Bologna’s Iconography. The Representation of the City in the Paintings of Pinacoteca Nazionale

    • Bologna October 2016
    • Presentation speakers
      • Denise Tamborrino, Polo Museale dell'Emilia-Romagna, Italy


    Between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, in Bologna, there were already present different architectures, which have become significant for its urban landscape, and that have influenced its development over the centuries. In the historical chronicles, however, the representation of Bologna always related to adjectives such as “scholarly” and “fat”, which could be hardly represented; in the literary sources, it is not present the identification of an architectural element that can symbolize the city as a whole. In general, the appearance of the city exerts a significant influence on the images the painters re-propose it during different historical periods: the real urban configuration is not binding for its representation. The artist did not start from the visual impression of the real urban structure, but from an idea, a concept. So, the representation of the city begun as a conceptual representation of a balance between economic, political and architectural meanings, subtended to its operational functions. Perceived city and real city are two artistically distinct concepts that do not always identify themselves in a unique representation, due to the architectural presence. Analyzing the paintings inside the Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, this paper wants to focus on how and why the representation of the city of Bologna differs from the real urban landscape between the fourteenth and the seventeenth century, despite the presence of the great architectures that have profoundly marked the face of the city as well as still perceived.