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From the British School at Rome:
We are delighted to launch this series of #BSROnlineLectures for all our friends and followers and in the hope of making new ones. Thanks go to all of those who have agreed to contribute to this first series and to colleagues at the BSR who have pulled the series together with such skill and speed. Although we cannot gather here in Rome, we take consolation in coming together online. – Stephen Milner, Director
For different communities, at different times and for different reasons, Rome has always formed an important locus; this discussion will focus on one particular such early modern group. As the sixteenth-century progressed into the seventeenth, many individual Spanish and Portuguese had made their way to Rome, not only because of its geo-political significance, but also because for a large minority of them it offered a freedom of action that was unobtainable in their own countries. These were the Conversos, Iberians of Jewish descent, who were being gradually and effectively excluded from playing a role in church and state in Spain and Portugal, two countries that were briefly united from 1580. Drawing on our research in Rome, undertaken as historian and art historian respectively, we shall discuss the kind of lives these men (and occasionally women) were able to make for themselves in Rome, what roles they played there, and their importance, out of scale to their number, as patrons of the visual arts both at home and abroad, ranging from El Greco to Velazquez.
Piers Baker-Bates is currently a Visiting Research Associate at The Open University, United Kingdom, having previously been a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the same institution. He is also chair of ARTES, the Iberian & Latin American Visual Culture Group. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in March 2006 and has since held fellowships at a number of institutions, including the British School at Rome and the Dutch Institute in Florence and was an Ailsa Mellon Bruce Visiting Senior Fellow at CASVA in Autumn 2019. This was for his new project: ‘In the Spanish Fashion: Italian Material Culture and Spanish Devotional Practice in the Sixteenth Century’. His book on Sebastiano del Piombo, Sebastiano del Piombo and the World of Spanish Rome was published in September 2016, while articles on Sebastiano have appeared in both edited collections and in journals. He has also co-authored two edited volumes, The Spanish Presence in Sixteenth-Century Italy: Images of Iberia, with Dr Miles Pattenden, which was published by Ashgate, supported by the CEEH, in January 2015 and “Un nuovo modo di colorire in pietra”: Paintings on Stone and Material Innovation, with Dr Elena Calvillo, which was published by Brill in March 2018. More recently he has contributed an essay and entries to the catalogue of the National Gallery, London, exhibition, Sebastiano del Piombo and Michelangelo, which ran from March to June 2017 and the Uffizi, Florence, exhibition, Spagna e Italia in Dialogo nell’Europa dell Cinquecento, which ran from February to May 2018.
James W. Nelson Novoa is Associate Professor in the department of Modern Languages and Literatures and Medieval and Renaissance studies at the University of Ottawa (Canada). He received his doctorate in Spanish philology from the University of Valencia in Spain in 2003 under the direction of Professor Julio Alonso Asenjo, with a European thesis co-directed by Professor Michele Luzzati of the University of Pisa. He was a postdoctoral fellow of the Foundation for Science and Technology of Portugal (2006–10) and (2011–14). Between 2014 and 2015 he was a researcher in the research project funded by the European Research Council and led by Professor Yosef Kaplan at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: a transitional diaspora: cultural and religious changes in the Sephardic western communities during the period Modern, Faculty of Humanities, Hebrew University. He is the author of the book Being the Nação in the Eternal City: Portuguese New Christian Lives in Sixteenth Century Rome, Peterborough: Baywolf Press, 2014, of more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and 25 book chapters. Among his areas of academic interest are Italo-Iberian cultural relations in the modern period and the New Christian diaspora in Italy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.