John Henderson: The Art of Healing in the Hospitals of Renaissance Italy
on the occasion of the Summer School "Art of Healing. Hospitals in Italy in the Early Modern Era"
The hospitals of medieval and renaissance Italy were the concrete embodiment of physical and spiritual healing. These complementary functions were reflected in the construction of some of the largest and most impressive buildings in Italian cities, which also became important centres for the patronage of leading contemporary painters, sculptors and manuscript illuminators. Fine studies have been done of Italian hospitals' medical role and the style and content of individual works of art in these institutions. However, as I shall underline in this lecture, few historians have attempted to examine the way in which hospitals’ devotional objects and more broadly their material culture reflected their dual mission in curing the body and the soul.
John Henderson is Professor of Italian Renaissance History at Birkbeck College, University of London and a Fellow of Wolfson College, University of Cambridge. He has published widely on the social, medical and religious history of renaissance and early modern Italy. His main books include:
Piety and Charity in Late Medieval Florence, Oxford, 1994 (revised ed. Chicago, 1997; transl. Pietà e carità nella Firenze del Basso Medioevo, Florence, 1998); The Great Pox. The French Disease in Renaissance Europe, with J. Arrizabalaga and R. French, New Haven and London, 1997; ed. with T.V. Verdon, Christianity and the Renaissance, Syracuse, 1990; The Renaissance Hospital. Healing the Body and Healing the Soul (New Haven and London, 2006) (transl. Das Spital im Florenz der Renaissance – Heilung für den Leib und für die Seele, Stuttgart, 2013). Forthcoming Italian translation: L'ospedale Rinascimentale. La guarigione del corpo e dell'anima (Odoya Edizioni, Bologna, 2015-2016).