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‘Photobombing’ in the Italian Renaissance

Sistine Chapel Ceiling

“What’s He Doing in There? Photobombing in the Italian Renaissance” a talk by Azar Rejaie, in the Art History Lecture Series sponsored by the Department of Art at Lamar University, will be held April 18. The free public lecture begins at 6 p.m. in the Dishman Art Museum Auditorium, preceded by a reception at 5:30 p.m.

Rejaie, associate professor of art history and chair of the Department of Arts and Communication at the University of Houston-Downtown, is a specialist in Italian Renaissance art. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pittsburgh and taught there as well as at Southeastern Louisiana University before joining the faculty at UHD in 2006.

The lecture will explore her interests in Italian Renaissance artists inserting a self-portrait in a narrative made for a patron, resulting in paintings and sculptures that allow today’s viewers to glimpse the faces of artists such as Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Michelangelo and Titian among the figures witnessing or even participating in religious and mythological narratives.

While the increasing status of some artists during the period explains why an artist might want to include himself in a work of art made for a patron, less understood is why a patron would allow, or even perhaps encourage, the artist do so during an era in which most artists were viewed as simple craftsmen.

Rejaie will discuss the practice of embedded self-portraits during the Italian Renaissance from the commissioner’s point of view to bring to light the partnerships that allowed both artists and their patrons to benefit from the appearance of an artist in a commissioned work of art.