Dr. Fernando Loffredo
State University of New York (june − july 2021)
postdoc project : Wind and Fortune in the Representation of the France Antarctique
Fernando Loffredo is Assistant Professor of Early Modern Mediterranean and Colonial Latin American Visual Culture in the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. His primary research interests are mobility, trans-Mediterranean artistic relations, sculpture and the urban space, and the dialogues between art and poetry in the early modern world, with a particular focus on the global Spanish Empire. He obtained his PhD in Art History at the University of Naples in 2010 and over the past years has taught at University of Colorado Boulder, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Lima, NYU, and Johns Hopkins University. He was Harvard’s Villa I Tatti/Museo del Prado Inaugural Fellow 2020/2021 and the Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellows 2015/2017 at CASVA (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC), as well as the recipient of fellowships at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome.
Wind and Fortune in the Representation of the France Antarctique
His project focuses on two large mid-sixteenth-century wooden reliefs in the Musée départemental des antiquités de Rouen that depict nude indigenous people and the trade of dyewood—the famous brazilwood, or “pau brasil” in Portuguese, or “ibirapitanga” in Tupí-Guaraní—in the context of the French attempt to colonizing Brazil. Meant to be part of a frieze adorning the façade of the so-called Hôtel de l’île du Brésil, in the Saint Maclou neighborhood, the Rouen wooden enseignes are a tangible - although allegorical -representation of early modern French transatlantic ambitions. My aim is to provide a new visual and iconographical analysis of these reliefs by establishing a thriving dialogue with texts that were being produced in France at the same time and in the same cultural context. In fact, it has not been noted that the reliefs’ iconography is dominated by a crucial element: a windy landscape. Winds understood as “invisible bodies” (corpora caeca) by Lucretius seem to have been central in Michel de Montaigne’s Des cannibales writing process, begun after having met Tupí indigenous individuals in Rouen, as Screech and Lezra have demonstrated. Winds are the eternal companions of Fortune, which can be indeed found represented in one of the panels as a mother breastfeeding her child, according to a model drawn by Leonardo, among others. According to my interpretation, the Rouen panels emerge here not as inaccurate depictions of indigenous people, but as cultivate visual allegories of a new beginning in a new land, just like André Thevet quotes Virgil in the page in which the area of Rio de Janeiro is baptized France Antarctique.