BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    Visualising the Great Pox in Early Modern Italy: patients, symptoms and treatment

    Henderson, John (2020) Visualising the Great Pox in Early Modern Italy: patients, symptoms and treatment. In: Stolberg, M. (ed.) Bildliche Darstellungen gesunder und kranker Körper in der Frühen Neuzeit (1450-1750). Munich, Germany: Historisches Kolleg, Munich. (In Press)

    [img] Text
    32585.pdf - Author's Accepted Manuscript
    Restricted to Repository staff only

    Download (254kB) | Request a copy


    The experiences of patients who suffered from the Great Pox in early modern Europe have become the focus in recent years of a series of studies in counties both north and south of the Alps, from Santiago to Venice, to Nuremberg and Frankfurt to London. These studies have been principally based on archival and literary sources, but few attempts have been made to examine the visual representation of the earlier phases of this epidemic in early modern Italy, in contrast to the plethora of studies of plague imagery. This may be because plague iconography is part of a much longer tradition linked to catastrophic events, such as the Black Death, seen by some historians as causative agents for changes in the style and content of art. Indeed an epidemic of plague was an inherently more dramatic event than the Pox, killing large numbers of people in a short time, with all the implied complications of the burial of thousands, while the Pox was a chronic disease and its victims suffered a long-drawn-out death. The outward signs of the plague, with the large buboes under the armpits or on the thigh, were also more instantly recognisable than the generalised spread of pustules over the body. All this helps to explain why historians have tended to ignore the iconography of the Great Pox, at least in early modern Italy. The present article is part of a wider study of the representation of the Pox in Italy, based on an analysis of visual evidence in relation to a wide range of contemporary written sources.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Great Pox, art, literature, Renaissance Italy
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: John Henderson
    Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2020 10:00
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:01


    Activity Overview
    6 month trend
    6 month trend

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item