History of Art and Architecture

Brian Curran Lecture


Thursday, April 3, 2014 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Of Gods and Monsters: An Egyptian Bestiary in Early Modern Rome

Brian Curran, Professor of Art History at Penn State University

In this talk, I explore the curious afterlife of the many Egyptian animal statues—lions, sphinxes, baboons, crocodiles, Apis bulls, and others—who once inhabited the gardens, palaces, and public spaces of Medieval and Early Modern Rome. Focusing on the "careers" of these works as they moved from place to place, and to new settings over the course of many centuries, I describe their rise, in some cases, to international fame as emblematic, "celebrity" statues in the antiquarian and intellectual, as well popular, tourist culture of the period from around 1300–1800. In addition to their inherent interest as tales largely untold, it is also hoped that these "cultural biographies" may cast a light on the social life of things in general, and art objects in particular.

This lecture is supported by generous cosponsorship from the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, the European Union Center of Excellence/ European Studies Center, and the Honors College.