University of St Andrews, International Online Conference: 2-3 September, 2021

Organisers: Alexa McCarthy, Laura Moretti, Paolo Sachet

At the turn of the sixteenth century, blue paper emerged as a chosen support for drawing and printing in Venice. Artists like Vittore Carpaccio (ca. 1460-ca. 1526), Lorenzo Lotto (ca. 1480-1556), Titian (ca. 1488-1576), Sebastiano del Piombo (ca. 1485-1547), and Jacopo Tintoretto (1518/19-1594) utilised this support for drawings to explore the tonal effects of light and shade on colour. At the same time, publishers like Aldus Manutius (ca. 1445-1515) and Francesco Marcolini (ca. 1500-after 1559) printed books on blue paper, capturing the interplay of the materials that form the page, text, and image. The impact of these practices quickly became internationally influential.

This conference will explore the use of blue paper (carta azzurra; carta turchina; carta cerulea) for the purposes of drawing and printing in Venice in the first half of the sixteenth century. Recent scholarship has shed light on the role of this medium in artistic practice and has called for further attention to be paid to this material, beyond its mention in art historical literature as a support for images and text (Brückle 1993; Bower 2002; Brahms 2015; Burns 2020). Bringing together perspectives on drawing, printing, and networks of exchange, this conference will shed new light on the significance of blue paper in Venice between ca. 1500-50 and the material’s cross-cultural impact.

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