2012 Student Research Conference:
25th Annual Student Research Conference

Taking a Closer Look at Disability: Dwarf Depiction in Renaissance Art
Jessica A. Emmett
Dr. Julia DeLancey, Faculty Mentor

Around 1553, Cosimo I de Medici commissioned Agnolo Bronzino to paint a portrait of court dwarf, Braccio di Bartolo, better known as Dwarf Morgante. It was very common in the European courts at that time for dwarves to act as court jesters, often being portrayed in positions that were seen as fools and as objects to be given as gifts. It is apparent that those in the Renaissance saw that there was a physical difference between a dwarf and a normative person, however, dwarves do not necessarily fall into the established Renaissance definition of disability. This paper will bring to the surface how disabilities were viewed in the Renaissance and explore its impact on society. Although the Portrait of Dwarf Morgante is rare in its positive depiction of dwarfism, there is still much debate and interpretation as to how those with disabilities were viewed during the Renaissance.

Keywords: Renaissance, Dwarf Morgante, Bronzino, dwarfism, Medici, Disability

Topic(s):Disability and the Arts

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 303-1
Location: OP 2210
Time: 1:00

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