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Art History Speaker Series: Dr. Thomas Balfe

November 13, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

Monday, November 13, 2023

12:00-1:15 p.m. MT


The Boise State Department of Art, Design and Visual Studies and the Visiting Artist and Scholar Program are pleased to present Dr. Thomas Balfe from The Warburg Institute, University of London, as part of their 2023-2024 Art History Speaker Series: “Extinction.”

Balfe will present on “Signs of life? Regarding Animal violence in Early Modern Still Life Painting

Still life paintings featuring animals killed in the course of the hunt had emerged as a popular form of European art by the middle decades of the seventeenth century. Unlike hunting scenes that show the pursuit of fast-moving birds and mammals, still life paintings isolate and immobilize the animal body, inviting the viewer to notice the violence suffered by the quarry during and just after the final stages of the chase – bite marks, blood stains, cuts and wounds, ruffled fur, and more.

These details indicate the deadness of the animal even as they call to mind its final, intensely lived moments of existence; they also suggest its status as a creature which, while not possessing a name, was nevertheless a particularized, vulnerable living being. This presentation will focus on the signs of death, and life, in early modern still life painters’ depictions of dead animals, asking how these would have been understood in a period when human exceptionalism was being renegotiated and ideas about the capacities, ensoulment and moral status of animals were emerging as topics of lively debate.

To participate, please utilize the Zoom link below:

This event is free and open to the public.