Appel à communications : Climate, Color, and Early Modern Art, RSA, date limite le 7 août 2022

We invite submissions for a panel that will investigate the myriad ways in which visual and material culture of the early modern world was impacted, both in theory and in practice, by changing conceptions of climate and color and increasingly sophisticated speculation about the relationship between the two. Through the framework of climate/color, we hope to provide a platform for scholars interested in color, facture, and materiality to begin to think about climate, ecology, and the environment, and vice versa.

Color and climate played important and intersecting roles in the visual and material culture of early modernity: they were crucial features of diverse animal and plant worlds, resources and qualities central to artistic production around the globe, important components of a variety of religious and healing practices, and topics of wide-ranging technological experimentation. They were central to early modern trade, bioprospecting, and racialization—often in ways that intersected. And for all of these reasons, color and climate were the object of philosophical, ethical, or naturalist speculation and study during the period. The reasons for these cultural developments were numerous and, crucially, varied from place to place: a dramatic and observable change in the global climate in the late sixteenth century (the so-called ‘Little Ice Age’); the effects of European imperialist and colonialist ventures in the Americas, Africa, and Asia; increasingly rapid, man-made physical changes to landscapes around the world; the gradual waning of Aristotelian natural philosophy and the concomitant rise of ‘the new’ and ‘colonial science’;  the encounter with and appropriation of Indigenous knowledges; the emergence in various places of proto-environmental and proto-ecological ways of thinking that recognized the deep imbrication of the human and the landscape; etc.

We are interested in papers that shed light upon early modern works of art, architecture, material culture, aesthetics, art theory, or art criticism whose practical use or theorization of color is conditioned by these climactic and environmental concerns. Possible topics might include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Period thinking about color’s permanence or mutability.
  • Deterioration and its treatments, including understandings (or imaginings) of care, protection, impermeability, etc.
  • Theories and practices of surface finish, such as iridescence and matteness, glazing, lacquer, etc.
  • The materials, techniques, and finish of works made for faraway markets or patrons
  • The extraction, production, or trade in pigments and the environmental knowledge involved in these processes
  • The aesthetics of snow and ice, heat and humidity
  • Theories of pigmentation, bodily fluids and/or complexion, and the representation of racial difference
  • Climate and color practices as subaltern technologies
  • Fugitive and fading pigments, inks, and papers.
  • Color practices involved in human-animal interactions and their importance to art making (the usage or fascination with animal hides, feathers, furs, etc.)
  • The mechanics of color production in compendia or repositories of naturalist knowledge
  • Earthworks, undergrounds, and labor practices

Please submit proposals to María Lumbreras ( and James Pilgrim ( by August 7, 2022. These should include your name, affiliation, and e-mail address; paper title and abstract (maximum 150 words); a 2-page CV.



Fiammetta Campagnoli

Fiammetta Campagnoli est doctorante en histoire de l'art moderne à l'Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Ses recherches se concentrent sur la perception et sur la réception de la spatialité de l’image mariale au XVe et au XVIe siècle.

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