Past event

Venice in Blue: the use of carta azzurra in the Artist's Studio and in the printer's workshop, ca. 1500 to 1550 University of St Andrews, International Online Conference

Organisers: Alexa McCarthy, Laura Moretti, Paolo Sachet

At the turn of the sixteenth century, blue paper emerged as a chosen support for drawing and printing in Venice. Artists including Vittore Carpaccio (ca. 1460 to ca. 1526), Lorenzo Lotto (ca. 1480 to 1556), Titian (ca. 1488 to 1576), Sebastiano del Piombo (ca. 1485 to 1547), and Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/19 to 1594) utilised this support for drawings to explore the tonal effects of light and shade on colour.

At the same time, publishers like Aldus Manutius (ca. 1445 to 1515), Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500 to after 1559) and Gabriele Giolito (ca. 1508 to 1578) printed books on blue paper, capturing the interplay of the materials that form the page, text and image. The impact of these practices quickly became internationally influential.

This conference explores the use of blue paper (carta azzurra, carta turchina, carta cerulea) for the purposes of drawing and printing in Venice in the first half of the sixteenth century.

Recent scholarship has considered the role of this medium in artistic practice and has called for further attention to be paid to this material, beyond its mention in art historical literature as a support for images and text (Brückle, 1993; Bower, 2002; Brahms, 2015; Burns, 2020). Bringing together perspectives on drawing, printing and networks of exchange, the conference will shed new light on the significance of blue paper in Venice between ca. 1500 and 1550 and the material's cross-cultural impact.

The conference will take place over two days. The programme consists of presentations highlighting new research and objects preserved in international collections and a round table discussion. Presentations will be in an online format. An online exhibition will accompany the conference.

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