Stefania GereviniChercheuse invitée

15 septembre au 15 octobre 2021 

Stefania Gerevini is Assistant Professor in the History of Art atBocconi University, Milan. Her main expertise lies in the fields of medieval and Byzantine art. Stefania’s research and recent publications focus on the conceptualizations, social meanings, and artistic applications of transparency and light in the medieval west, with focus on the aesthetics and meanings of rock crystal.She also has a long-standing interest in the nexus between aesthetics and politics, with emphasis on the role of the visual at times of uncertainty and conflict in late medieval societies. Her current monograph project explores these issues through the interpretative lens of crisis, and in relation to the visual arts of Venice in the fourteenth century. 


  • “Art as Politics in the Baptistery and Chapel of Sant’Isidoro in San Marco, Venice”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 74 (2020), forthcoming. 
  • "The Bern Diptych: Venetian rock crystal between craft, trade and aesthetics", in Seeking Transparency. Rock Crystals Across the Medieval Mediterranean, edited by Cynthia Hahn and AvinoamShalem, Gebr. Mann Verlag (2020), pp. 183-195.
  • "Rock crystal in the medieval west: an essay on techniques and workshops", in Seeking Transparency. Rock Crystals Across the Medieval Mediterranean, edited by Cynthia Hahn and AvinoamShalem, Gebr. Mann Verlag (2020), pp. 89-100.
  • “Inscribing history, (over)writing politics: word and image in the chapel of St Isidore at San Marco, Venice”, in Sacred Scripture / Sacred Space. The Interlacing of Real Places and Conceptual Spaces in Medieval Art and Architecture, edited by Tobias Frese, Wilfried E. Keil, Kristina Krüger, De Gruyter (2019), pp. 323–349.
  • “Invisible, in full view: the Byzantine reliquaries of Santa Maria della Scala, Siena”, in Visibilité et présence de l’image dansl’espace ecclésial. Byzance et Moyen Age occidental, edited bySulamith Brodbeck and Anne-Orange Poilpré, Editions de la Sorbonne (2019), pp. 195–229.
  • “Written in stone: civic memory and monumental writing in the cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa”, in Viewing Texts: The visual powers of inscriptions in the Mediterranean and Iranian Worlds, ed. Antony Eastmond, Cambridge University Press (2015), pp. 205–229.
  • Sicut crystallus quando set objecta soli: rock crystal crosses, transparency and the Franciscan order in the later middle ages”, Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, Vol. 56/3 (2014), pp. 255–283. 
  • Christus Crystallus: rock crystal, theology and materiality in the medieval west”, in the Matter of Faith. An interdisciplinary study of relics and reliquaries, eds James Robinson and Lloyd De Beer with Hannah Harnden, British Museum Press (2014), pp. 92–99.
  • “The Grotto of the Virgin: artistic reuse and cultural identity in medieval Venice”, Gesta, University of Chicago Press, Vol. 53/2 (2014), pp. 197–220.

Research Project - Abstract

What meanings did the properties of transparency and translucency bear in the secular cultures ofmedieval Europe? To what extent did the religious and secular semantics of transparency overlap, or diverge, in the medieval consciousness? What part did the concept of claritas play within medieval political, social and ethical discourse, and what role did transparent, translucent and opaque objects play in giving material form to those ideas?

My project addresses these questions through study of a group of rock crystal salt cellars, made between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. Reduced to the rank of the ‘kitchen gadget’ in modern times, salt cellars were key political and social markers in the middle ages. This project situates salt cellars within their functional, social, and symbolic contexts – banquets, rituals of exorcism, baptism, coronation ceremonies, diplomatic and royal gift-giving – and explores the ways in which these objects were viewed and experienced by their beholders. By doing so, I aim to illuminate the ways in which transparent artworks both provoked and mediated exchanges between the aesthetic realm, natural and religious knowledge, and social and political practices across early global Europe.