CfP: Ten Years After – The Impact of the Sacco di Roma on Art and Architecture 1527–1537. Philadelphia, 2-4 April 2020

Call for Papers: Ten Years After – The Impact of the Sacco di Roma on Art and Architecture 1527–1537. Philadelphia, 2-4 April 2020

Session at the Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting

The “Sacco di Roma”, the plundering of the city of Rome by the troops of the German Emperor Charles V in May 1527, was regarded by many contemporary witnesses as a terrible disaster. The Florentine Francesco Guicciardini called the Sack of Rome “la più mesta, la più spaventevole, e la più vituperosa tragedia” in his “Storia d’Italia” (written 1537–1540, published 1561), and Sebastiano del Piombo stated in 1531: “Ancora non mi par essere quel Bastiano che io era inanti el sacco”. Palaces were burned down and their inhabitants held to ransom, blackmailed or killed. The lansquenets pillaged churches and monasteries, robbed their treasures and relics and destroyed many archives and libraries. Pope Clement VII and his entourage had to spend seven months in Castel Sant’Angelo. During the Sacco and the following plague the population of Rome was cut almost in half. Many artists fled the city, but some were directly involved, such as Benvenuto Cellini, who led the papal artillery, while Maturino, Polidoro da Caravaggio’s co-worker, as well as the engraver Marco Dente died during the Sacco or in its immediate aftermath.
Notwithstanding, less than three years later, on February 24, 1530, Charles V was on his 30th birthday crowned by Pope Clement VII in Bologna. After the victorious battle in Tunis in the summer of 1535, Clement’s successor Paul III even granted the emperor and his army in 1536 a solemn entry into the city using the antique Via Triumphalis. Substantial urban transformations were carried out on this occasion. These political events fell into a period of new prosperity and growth – Rome was thriving again. Ten years later, it seems that hardly any traces of the catastrophic event could be seen in the city. Destroyed or badly damaged buildings such as the Palazzo Massimi alle Colonne had been rebuilt, and other projects were underway, such as the Palace of Paul III on the Capitoline Arx or the reopening of the building site of Saint Peter’s. As early as 1536, the lawyer Johann Fichard from Frankfurt in his travelogue “Italia” praised the Roman palaces in detail for their splendor and beauty.
This session focuses on the decade between 1527 and 1537. The goal is to evaluate and discuss the actual impact of the Sacco di Roma on art and architecture in Rome. It has been a commonplace that nothing remained in Rome as it was after 1527, especially in the field of the arts. But was this really the case? Or did artistic activity merely come to a halt for a short period, to be taken up again all the more intensely? Was there any continuity? Are there any other circumstances leading to a significant change in the artistic approach in the eternal city between the pre- and post-sack era?
The session chair invites papers addressing architecture, painting, sculpture, the applied arts as well as the graphic arts, but also topographical subjects, individual artists, workshops and their organization, specific commissions, contemporary perception and debates, discussing the impact of the Sacco, or lack thereof, in the ten years following the event.
As required by RSA, proposals should include a paper title (15-word maximum), an abstract (150-word maximum), keywords, and a very brief curriculum vitae.
All presenters must become members of the Renaissance Society of America, be committed to attending the conference in Philadelphia, and make their own travel and accommodation arrangements.
More information is available here.
Deadline: 13 August 2019
Please send your proposals to Johannes Röll (

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