Rustics, Outsiders, Buffoons, and Courtesans: Low Painting and Italian Renaissance Culture


Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships


Art History


For residence at the Whitney Humanities Center


This project explores connections between genre painting and popular culture in Renaissance Italy, focusing in particular on the marginal figures of peasants, foreigners, street performers, and prostitutes. As a “low” mode of vernacular expression with subjects drawn from everyday life and popular culture, genre painting functioned as a mode of social commentary and counter-figuration to Renaissance idealism. I interpret its themes in light of contemporary social and cultural practices, locating painting within a broader current of vernacular realism well-documented in music, theater, and literary history. While scholars have studied low genres of poetry, song, and performance, this project is the first to offer an in-depth examination of an analogous non-canonical genre of painting.