The sculptures of the Sacro Bosco of Bomarzo (c.1550–80) are all made from one type of stone: peperino, a rough and earthy grey-brown rock. It is an unusual substance for sixteenth-century sculpture, yet the physical makeup of the Sacro Bosco is rarely discussed in detail. This essay brings the material of these statues into focus through an art-historical consideration that deliberately embraces the author’s physical encounter with the objects. The immersive experience of Bomarzo is thus investigated through the indivisibility of scholarly and sensory engagement. Exploring contemporary contexts that would have informed how the matter of these sculptures was understood by a sixteenth-century visitor – from natural history to geology and topography – it will be argued that the Sacro Bosco’s rock would have invited the historical beholder to engage imaginatively with the generation of stone and the region’s local history.
Keywords: materiality, material, sculpture, geology, topography, natural history, Bomarzo, stone
Full text: OAJ_issue7_Allington-Wood_03 (PDF 20 MB)
Thalia Allington-Wood is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of History of Art at University College London. Her research is supported by the AHRC, along with awards from UCL, the London Arts and Humanities Partnership, and the Society of Architectural Historians. Previously she has been a fellow at UCLA and Dumbarton Oaks. She has experience in museum education, research and publishing at the Design Museum, the V&A, Tate Etc. and RA Magazine, and currently teaches at UCL and Sotheby’s Institute of Art.