Wofford’s Department of Art and Art History welcomes Dr. Bill Levin, Centre College Professor Emeritus, who will deliver a lecture on the artistic legacy of the Misericordia of Florence.
Confraternities are an aspect of life in late-medieval and Renaissance Italy—and Europe generally—that is often overlooked by all but advanced scholars in the field of early-modern studies. These were communal organizations of like-minded laypersons, often guided by religious principles, that coalesced for diverse reasons and purposes—devotional, practical, or both. When convening for group-oriented events or appearing together in public, such as for processions celebrating religious and civic occasions, members would dress similarly and display identifying insignia. A number of confraternities took as their mission, or one of their missions, the performance of good works directed not only toward colleagues but on behalf of needy persons in their surrounding communities.
An important, typical example of this sort of association was, and still is, the Company of Saint Mary of Mercy in Florence, known more concisely as the Misericordia. Like other confraternities, members of this one employed painters and sculptors to decorate their headquarters in a manner that broadcast their mission to residents of and visitors to the city. Dr. Levin’s talk will survey the Florentine Misericordia confraternity’s history and artistic patrimony as an introduction to this frequently-neglected feature of early-modern Italian and European society.