Artibus et Historiae no. 81 (XLI)2020, ISSN 0391-9064
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CATHERINE PUGLISI - ‘Certe palliole da processione’: Guido Reni, Silk, Civic Piety and Ceremony (pp. 253–279)
At the height of the devastating plague of 1630, the Senate of Bologna commissioned Guido Reni’s monumental Pallione del Voto to serve as a votive processional standard. According to his biographer Carlo Cesare Malvasia, Reni’s use of a silk support constituted a novelty, except for ‘certe palliole da processione’. Recent studies of early processional banners permit us to consider the Pallione within the tradition of a once widespread and prominent artistic expression of communal piety and ceremony. Factors of size, weight, expense, expediency and durability bore on the choice of support, whether panel, linen, canvas or silk, and changing needs dictated the function and even the survival of standards, subject to extreme wear and tear. The extant visual evidence for contemporary banners in Rome, Bologna and Milan demonstrates their continued vitality in the Seicento, revealing that silk became the preferred support, evoking splendor and pageantry. An exploration of Reni’s further experiments with silk in a few works of the 1630s concludes the article, attesting to the increasing fashion for precious supports.