Lisa Beaven Lecture

11 October 2018


Lorenzo Lotto , Venus and Cupid, 1520s

Lorenzo Lotto, Venus and Cupid, 1520s.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986.138. Purchase,  Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Marietta Tree, 1986. 

Living Flesh: splendour, sex and sickness on the surface of the skin

A public lecture by Lisa Beaven, Lecturer in Art History, La Trobe University and 2018 UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

Presented by the UWA Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Perth Medieval and Renaissance Group, the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, and the Institute of Advanced Studies.

This lecture explores the relationship between artistic images of nudity in early modern Europe and societal attitudes to nakedness in real life. Despite the importance of the nude for the history of Western art, little attention has been paid to  the effect of such images on contemporaries’ perceptions of nakedness. With the advent of humanism during the Renaissance, images of naked gods and goddess multiplied. Instead of viewing these through the lens of classical antiquity this lecture will chart the effects such images had on social values, perceptions of beauty, courtship rituals and intimate sexual behaviour. The more skin was shown, the more it became the focus of theoretical attention, with the widespread belief that this pliant surface could reveal the secrets of temperament, health and destiny.

Lisa Beaven is Lecturer in Art History at La Trobe University. She has previously taught at the Universities of Melbourne and Auckland. She was the 2008 Trendall Fellow at the British School at Rome and from 2014-2018 was a post-doctoral research fellow in the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions at Melbourne University.

Dr Beaven’s research interests are focused on seventeenth-century Rome, with a particular interest in patronage and collecting. She is also interested in the issue of false relics, the relationship between the church and antiquarian circles in Rome, and emotional responses to paintings and sculpture in the early modern period. She has ongoing research projects on landscape painting and the ecology of the Roman Campagna, the market for relics in seventeenth-century Rome, and space and the senses in the baroque city. With Joan Barclay Lloyd, she has studied travel and the built environment of Rome, with Angela Hesson she studied love objects for the exhibition Love: the Art of Emotion (2017) and with Angela Ndalianis, she undertook the ARC Discovery project: ‘Experiencing space: sensory encounters from Baroque Rome to neo-Baroque Las Vegas’. In 2010, she published An Ardent Patron: Cardinal Camillo Massimo and his artistic and antiquarian circles in Rome, (Paul Holberton Press, 2010). Her collection, Baroque to neo-baroque: Emotion and the seduction of the senses (edited with Angela Ndalianis) was published by Medieval Institute Press in 2018.