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September 20, 2018

Presentation: 'Delightful Landscapes, Immaculate Still Lifes and Miracle-Working Saints: Healing Images in the Late Renaissance'

12:15 p.m. 1:00 p.m. End Time
12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. | Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State Executive Board Room

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, residents of New York City flooded museums seeking consolation and meaningfulness. This reaction pointed to an unspoken perception that contemplating art could soothe and revitalize. Since then, a significant cultural awareness of the healing effects of viewing art has taken place. Major initiatives by hospitals and medical institutions have seen the introduction of art into patient treatment, as, for example, at Cleveland Clinic or at Roswell Park, where facilities are adorned with contemporary art of varied media. Similarly, medical schools are collaborating with museums to broaden young physicians’ thinking about the human condition, teaching them to consider human emotions such as grief and mourning and the process of recovery after loss, through the study of art and literature. These important initiatives are exciting. They are also frequently touted as “new.” But the idea that the viewing of art heals body and mind belongs to a long-standing, and until quite recently, largely forgotten idea originating in antiquity. This tradition was revived and transformed in important ways in the Renaissance period.

Indeed, as Frances Gage demonstrates in her book, Painting as Medicine in Early Modern Rome, the idea of the healing promise of art helped spur the assembly of major art collections in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries. These, in turn, served as models for the foundation of public museums in the nineteenth century.

In this talk, Gage will consider the ways in which men and women in the late Renaissance believed art objects to promise healing to their beholders and integrated art into their daily lives for preservative effects.

Gage is an associate professor of art history at Buffalo State, SUNY. She is a historian of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian art and criticism, collecting, intellectual culture, and medicine. She is the author of Painting as Medicine in Early Modern Rome: Giulio Mancini and the Efficacy of Art, published by Penn State University Press in 2016. Her articles have appeared in Nuncius, Renaissance Studies, Renaissance Quarterly, Intellectual History Review, and the Burlington Magazine. She is a contributor to numerous volumes including Conserving Health in Early Modern Culture, Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions, The Display of Art in the Roman Palace, 1550-1750, Gifts in Return: Essays in Honour of Charles Dempsey, Sacred Possessions: Collecting Italian Religious Art, 1500-1900 and The Accademia Seminars: The Accademia di San Luca in Rome, 1590-1635.

In 2016, she co-curated with Cristina Neilson the exhibition A Picture of Health: Art and the Mechanisms of Healing, held at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Her work has been supported by the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Renaissance Society of America, the Center for Reformation and Renaissance Studies at Victoria College of the University of Toronto, the Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library, the American Philosophical Society and the Newberry Library. She is currently writing a book on art and provocation in early modern Italy.

This event is free to Buffalo State faculty, students, and staff.

For further information please contact Kathy Gaye Shiroki at (716) 878-3540 or

Open to: everyone