Demons, Minerals, and Media-Specificity: The Subterranean as a Productive Force in Early Modern Naples


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


Art History


This project focuses on early seventeenth-century depictions of demons in connection to the use of copper and stone as support media, concentrating on the scientific networks of Italian, Flemish, and Dutch painters who lived in Naples, whether permanently or temporarily. Considering this Neapolitan context as a center of knowledge, the study explores the early modern understanding of copper and stone in the natural sciences, including demonology, mineralogy, metallurgy, mining, and quarrying, to demonstrate that, in creating demonic representations, the artists consciously explored and employed their scientific understanding of these materials, their medium-specificity, and, in the case of painting on stone, the aesthetic structure of its natural pattern.