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Title: "Acts and signs pleasing to children" : musical angels and young viewers in the fifteenth-century Florentine home
Author: Sessini, Serenella
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 3010
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2019
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The Renaissance home was the very first space in which the fundamentals of moral education were imparted to new-borns and children, before they began formal schooling. This thesis investigates the hypothesis that images of musical angels would have been intended to act as models for these young members of the household to imitate, with the purpose of "shaping the mind" towards virtuous behaviour. To date, the role of musical angels has only been addressed as part of broader studies dedicated to angels as a whole, or else has focused on the identification of their instruments and music notation. Using an inter-disciplinary approach, this thesis provides fresh insight into the role of musical angels, and their pedagogic effect on young viewers within the Renaissance home, giving special attention to Florentine sources and case studies. The focus on children and efforts to shape their character involves a consideration of Renaissance education and the overlap between discourses on education and ethics, and in particular contemporary humanist notions advocating the use of positive exempla, intended for imitation, in order to impart moral values. This work then highlights a number of similarities between the child-like figures of angels, their musical practice, and contemporary children and their experiences. In order to further explore this theory, this thesis then provides new interpretations of the musical angels within a number of specific artworks that were intended for domestic settings, focusing in particular on Florentine tondi, which provide a particularly rich opportunity for the re-evaluation of these figures. This thesis argues that musical angels, almost always youthful in appearance, were intended to engage young viewers in the home; and that their musical activities were not simply generic, but intended to build specific links with the broader role of musical training in elite education, including moral and religious instruction.
Supervisor: Shephard, Tim ; Shaw, James Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available