Back to Scholarship

The Body Re-Imagined: The Bizzarie di Varie Figure and Performative Cycles of Prints in Seventeenth-Century Florence

The Bizzarie di Varie Figure is a little known, enigmatic album of etchings that display countless performative bodies, transformed and reimagined to resist definitions and escape categorisations. Human, mechanical, even abstract forms and forces intersect, startling the viewer and opening infinite possibilities of interpretation. These images manipulate their own medium to produce new, unprecedented notions of movement and animation on the printed page, challenging, in this process, traditional concepts of imagination and representation. The first section of this article aims to provide a framework through which the Bizzarie album can be understood not only as a site of experimentation on the production of figures and forms, but also as one where performativity and animation encounter notions of knowledge of nature and production of meaning. The subsequent section focuses on an individual image from the album, an etching depicting the biblical figures of Adam and Eve in the form of trees. In this print, the article argues, the interconnection of nature and humanity complicates early modern ideas on human reproduction, and echoes the potential for infinite generation and creativity in image making.

Relevant research areas: Western Europe, Baroque, Etching