Session Title

The Fourteenth-Century Painted Ceiling of the Sala Magna in Palazzo Chiaromonte-Steri in Palermo I: Narrating Power, Showing Chivalry: For a Visual Cultural History of Late Medieval Sicily

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Italian Art Society

Organizer Name

Licia Buttà

Organizer Affiliation

Univ. Rovira i Virgili–Tarragona

Presider Name

Maud Pérez-Simon

Presider Affiliation

Univ. de Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle

Paper Title 1

The Dames of the Chiaromonte Family between Image and Reality

Presenter 1 Name

Patrizia Sardina (Congress Travel Award Winner)

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Univ. degli Studi di Palermo

Paper Title 2

"Speculum Principum": Biblical Exempla and Composite Iconography in the Painted Ceiling of the Sala Magna at the Chiaromonte Palace in Palermo

Presenter 2 Name

Licia Buttà

Paper Title 3

When Tristan Sails South: Trecento Sicilian Workshops and the Creation of Ekphrastic Narrative Experience

Presenter 3 Name

Kristen Streahle

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz

Start Date

10-5-2019 10:00 AM

Session Location

Sangren 1710

Description

The restoration of the 14th-century wooden ceiling of the Sala Magna in Palazzo Chiaromonte—known as Steri—began in September 2017. The outstanding interweaving of decorative and narrative images, that includes courtly Arthurian romance, Carolingian and classical tales, and Biblical allegories, is being brought back to life. The ceiling was crafted between 1377 and 1380, as attested by the inscription that runs along two sides of the ceiling between beams and lacunars, in which the name of the patron is also mentioned: the powerful and noble ruler of Palermo—Manfredi Chiaromonte (d. November 1391). The surface area of the wooden ceiling measures 23 x 8 meters. The iconography is displayed uninterrupted on the three sides of the 24 beams and on the 100 coffered lacunars. After the fall of the Chiaromonte family, the palace was first occupied by King Martin I, the Humane (29 July 1356 – 31 May 1410), then by the Viceroys of Aragon, and the House of Bourbon. Between 1601 and 1782 it became the Palace of the Inquisition and later the halls of the palace were used as the Court of Appeal. Today the building is home to the rectorate of the University of Palermo. The three linked sessions seek to be a fruitful occasion to shed new light on the ceiling of the Sala Magna in Palazzo Chiaromonte-Steri as well as other medieval painted ceilings in the Mediterranean

The chivalric world represented on the beams of the main hall ceiling on the first floor of the palace was conceived in order to enhance the figure of the powerful patron Manfredi. The iconographic types of courtly love, along with the narrative development of emblematic stories belonging to the literary repertoire shared with the main medieval European courts, show the figure of Chiaromonte interwoven with images of noble virtues, distinctive of self-representation mechanisms of the noble elites. The paintings on the ceiling stand as faint shadows of a literary tradition that helped bring about the relationship between adventure and war narration, and that of courtly love. The images are therefore aimed at the construction of a rhetorical discourse around the prince and his virtues, and are an invaluable resource for the history of art as well as for the cultural history of Sicily at the end of the Middle Ages.

Licia Buttà

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May 10th, 10:00 AM

The Fourteenth-Century Painted Ceiling of the Sala Magna in Palazzo Chiaromonte-Steri in Palermo I: Narrating Power, Showing Chivalry: For a Visual Cultural History of Late Medieval Sicily

Sangren 1710

The restoration of the 14th-century wooden ceiling of the Sala Magna in Palazzo Chiaromonte—known as Steri—began in September 2017. The outstanding interweaving of decorative and narrative images, that includes courtly Arthurian romance, Carolingian and classical tales, and Biblical allegories, is being brought back to life. The ceiling was crafted between 1377 and 1380, as attested by the inscription that runs along two sides of the ceiling between beams and lacunars, in which the name of the patron is also mentioned: the powerful and noble ruler of Palermo—Manfredi Chiaromonte (d. November 1391). The surface area of the wooden ceiling measures 23 x 8 meters. The iconography is displayed uninterrupted on the three sides of the 24 beams and on the 100 coffered lacunars. After the fall of the Chiaromonte family, the palace was first occupied by King Martin I, the Humane (29 July 1356 – 31 May 1410), then by the Viceroys of Aragon, and the House of Bourbon. Between 1601 and 1782 it became the Palace of the Inquisition and later the halls of the palace were used as the Court of Appeal. Today the building is home to the rectorate of the University of Palermo. The three linked sessions seek to be a fruitful occasion to shed new light on the ceiling of the Sala Magna in Palazzo Chiaromonte-Steri as well as other medieval painted ceilings in the Mediterranean

The chivalric world represented on the beams of the main hall ceiling on the first floor of the palace was conceived in order to enhance the figure of the powerful patron Manfredi. The iconographic types of courtly love, along with the narrative development of emblematic stories belonging to the literary repertoire shared with the main medieval European courts, show the figure of Chiaromonte interwoven with images of noble virtues, distinctive of self-representation mechanisms of the noble elites. The paintings on the ceiling stand as faint shadows of a literary tradition that helped bring about the relationship between adventure and war narration, and that of courtly love. The images are therefore aimed at the construction of a rhetorical discourse around the prince and his virtues, and are an invaluable resource for the history of art as well as for the cultural history of Sicily at the end of the Middle Ages.

Licia Buttà