Focused on the magic of the Italian Renaissance, Assistant Professor of Art and Architecture Liliana Leopardi’s research seeks to draw connections between magic and the materiality, rarity, beauty and particularities of a specific gem, and examines the role that carved images on precious gems played in the construction of masculinity in the 16th century.
Leopardi recently presented her research at a number of conferences, including “Charming Intentions: Occultism, Magic and the History of Art” at Cambridge University where her talk focused on “Renaissance Magic Precious and Semi-Precious Stones: the Fetish as a path to Psychological Integrity.” At The College Art Association conference in New York City, Leopardi presented on “Seeing Magic, Feeling Magic: A Sixteenth-Century Embodied Response to Engraved Images on Precious Gems.” Further work on this subject, “Camillo Leonardi and the Thaumaturgical Powers of Engraved Precious Gems” was presented at the Renaissance Society of America and the 11th International Symposium on the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period at The University of Arizona.
A recent guest lecturer at the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego, Calif., Leopardi explored the evolution of the male portrait in armor from the late 15th century to the late 16th century and its significance in shaping a political and military identity for the ruling class of the Renaissance. She was also recently interviewed by 429Magazine on LBGT art through history and travel.
“I see art history as a way to look into the history of humanity. Visual production, be it a sculpture, painting, or decorative arts, tells us something about the context in which it was produced,” says Leopardi. “It is almost like having a literal window into the past. As a viewer, one has a sense of what people thought, believed in, and even what they found beautiful.”
Joining the HWS faculty in 2012, Leopardi helps students explore the connection between magic and material and visual culture. She is also the adviser to the HWS Art History Society. Leopardi previously taught at Chapman University, and recently completed a translation of Camillo Leonardi’s “Speculum Lapidum.” She received a B.A. from the University of Southern California, and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
Leopardi’s 429Magazine interview can be found online.