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Doubling Matters: the place of the image at the Sacro Monte of Varallo (c. 1590-1630)

Benzan, CD; (2015) Doubling Matters: the place of the image at the Sacro Monte of Varallo (c. 1590-1630). Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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This thesis examines changes to the Sacro Monte of Varallo following its initial transformation from embodied to representational space. During the sixteenth century the pilgrimage site was gradually transformed from a spatial replica of the Holy Land into a temporally organized narrative itinerary of Christ’s life composed of mimetic sculptural mise-en-scenes. As the image became more dramatically mobilized and more anxiously controlled, the Sacro Monte radically modernized pilgrimage by seeking out new methods of moving towards presence through absence. The first chapter considers the problematic presentation of Christ in the Ecce Homo (1608-1618). The uncertain status of illusionistic sculpture was negotiated through theatrical staging and the insertion of a viewing screen, which made space for the beholder to translate the three-dimensional representation into a new kind of interior image. Chapter Two considers the Veronica Veil in the Way to Calvary (c. 1597-1617) and argues that this particular representation of Christ’s miraculous image interrupts the narrative flow of the chapel, producing a pause that opens up an alternate time that can be experienced by the viewer alone. Chapter Three shifts away from sculpture to consider the spatial replica of the Scala Santa in Pilate’s Palace (1608-1625). The double of the architectural relic inserts a space of bodily re-enactment that could imaginatively move the visitor from Varallo to Rome, Jerusalem and beyond. The fourth and final chapter turns to the representation of Mount Tabor in the Transfiguration (c. 1572-1660) in order to complicate the division between nature and artifice in discussions of early modern images. The difficulty of turning earth into image at the Sacro Monte of Varallo suggests that the incommensurability of the earth with representation could open up fertile ground for new notions of self and world.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Doubling Matters: the place of the image at the Sacro Monte of Varallo (c. 1590-1630)
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Keywords: Sacro Monte of Varallo, Pilgrimage, Early Modern Italy, Simulacra, Copies, Catholic Reformation, Sculpture, Image Theory
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470068
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