The mendicant orders were founded as small reform brotherhoods in the early 1200s, but within decades had become the largest institutional patrons of art and architecture in Latin Christendom. Since the late 1800s, the mendicants – above all the Franciscans and Dominicans – have been considered pivotal for the rapid artistic and urban renewal underway in Italy from the 1200s onwards. My current research project, The Sons of St Augustine: Art and Memory in the Augustinian Churches of Central Italy, offers a major re-evaluation of the neglected third mendicant group, the Hermits of St Augustine, long dismissed by scholars as pale imitators of the Franciscans. This extensive research was formed by an unprecedented series of fieldtrips to two dozen archives and more than forty hermitages across Italy from Bari to Valle d’Aosta. Through the combined study of written sources, ranging from theological treatises to literary works and illuminated choir books, combined with a wide variety of artistic evidence, the primary goal is to reveal for the first time the existence of overarching intellectual themes which linked Augustinian church interiors across central Italy. My talk will present the aims and objectives of this undertaking, as well as indicate how my project leads to a major re-evaluation of the Augustinians’ cultural and spiritual legacy, revealing them to be innovative patrons who used art and religious materiality discerningly to promote a distinctive eremitical identity.
This seminar will be taking place in person. All COVID-19-related University protocols will be in place and adhered to. If you would like to view the Zoom livestream instead of attending in person, please contact Institute Secretary Cynthia Watson.