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Air, Wind, Sun, Spirit

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The Cosmology of Guido Reni’s Aurora

image of Nuncius

Guido Reni’s early critics described him as a painter of “celestial ideas,” and his artistic process has been characterized as one rooted in the fantasia and the Idea. From the seventeenth-century on, Reni’s figures were praised for the “airs of the heads,” a notion with astrological and medical connotations, while the papal physician and art critic Giulio Mancini described Reni’s manner as “spirited,” a term suggestive of the airy movement Reni so powerfully represented in his Aurora. The concept of “spirit” or “spirits” also retained important connotations in early modern medicine and natural philosophy. A reconsideration of Reni’s Aurora in the context of medical and natural philosophical investigations of generation, artistic creation and the nature of and relationship between celestial and terrestrial regions demonstrates the connections between early modern artistic reception, medicine and natural philosophy.

Affiliations: 1: State University of New York, Buffalo State, SUNY


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