Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Painting and Persecution: Anti-Jewish and Anti-Protestant Visual Rhetoric in Northern Italy, 1475-1550

Maxwell, Andrea Kibler (2022) Painting and Persecution: Anti-Jewish and Anti-Protestant Visual Rhetoric in Northern Italy, 1475-1550. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

This is the latest version of this item.

Download (2MB) | Preview


From 1475 to 1550, North Italian artists and their patrons responded to tumultuous events such as the death of Simon of Trent, the Italian Wars, and the Protestant Reformation. This dissertation examines a series of case studies across this time span and demonstrates a continuity between anti-Jewish imagery before 1500 and the art that emerged during the Protestant Reformation. In the following chapters, I reunite artworks with their intense local histories and Northern Italy’s geographic liminality to reveal how artists made choices pertinent to their own lived realities. These choices extend beyond a consideration of urban art styles and center-periphery theories of influence. Instead, I demonstrate how artists used visual rhetoric to stake a claim in regional identities and beliefs by using these theologies to foreground a notion of “this is us, not them.”
The first case study shows how fifteenth-century communities throughout Valcamonica aligned images of Simon of Trent with regional preaching to stoke hatred and fear of Jews and Jew-like men and women. The second and third case studies follow the trajectory of Girolamo Romanino in Cremona and Valcamonica. In Cremona, the artist responded to local violence by replacing the generalized Jewish threat to Christianity with one from his immediate sixteenth-century contemporary experience—Landsknechte invading Northern Italy—to align anti-Jewish visual rhetoric with new alleged enemies of the Catholic Church. His subsequent work in Valcamonica became more theologically advanced as his fresco cycles in Pisogne and Breno subtly addressed both traditional Jewish enemies and the new Protestant threat while contributing to local identity formation. The fourth case study presents Lorenzo Lotto as a counterapproach to Romanino. Whereas Romanino developed exegetical visual rhetoric that condemned Jews and reformers, Lotto created art that emphasized Catholic catechisms while remaining vague regarding Jews or contemporary heretics. Instead, he used experimentation and ambiguity to create art that walked the line between defending the Catholic Church and questioning it. Taken together, this research reveals the various ways artists and patrons dealt with local trauma and produces a coherent story of North Italian art that affords agency to a region deeply entrenched in theological discourse.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Maxwell, Andrea KiblerAndrea.Maxwell@pitt.eduamm430
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairNygren, Christopher J.CNYGREN@pitt.eduCNYGREN
Committee MemberFozi, ShirinSFOZI@pitt.eduSFOZI
Committee MemberJosten, JenniferJEJ40@pitt.eduJEJ40
Committee MemberShear, Adamashear@pitt.eduashear
Date: 6 June 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 21 February 2022
Approval Date: 6 June 2022
Submission Date: 17 March 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 310
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Italian Renaissance, Girolamo Romanino, Lorenzo Lotto, Simon of Trent, Early Modern, Protestant Reformation, Italian Wars, Anti-Jewish, Antisemitism, North Italy, Valcamonica, Art History, painting, fresco, churches, Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Protestant, religious studies, Visual Rhetoric, Graphic Exegesis, propaganda, blood libel, Christ
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 15:54
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2022 15:54

Available Versions of this Item

  • Painting and Persecution: Anti-Jewish and Anti-Protestant Visual Rhetoric in Northern Italy, 1475-1550. (deposited 06 Jun 2022 15:54) [Currently Displayed]


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item