A Printed Icon in Early Modern italy: Forlì’s Madonna of the Fire
In 1428, a devastating fire destroyed a schoolhouse in the Northern Italian city of Forlì, leaving only a woodcut of the Madonna and Child that had been tacked to the classroom wall. The people of Forlì carried that print – now known as the Madonna of the Fire – into their cathedral, where two centuries later a new chapel was built to enshrine it. In this book, Lisa Pon considers a cascade of moments in the Madonna of the Fire's cultural biography: when ink was impressed onto paper at a now-unknown date; when that sheet was recognized by Forlì's people as miraculous; when it was enshrined in various tabernacles and chapels in the cathedral; when it or one of its copies was – and still is – carried in procession. In doing so, Pon offers an experiment in art historical inquiry that spans more than three centuries of making, remaking, and renewal.