The making of a hybrid body: Corpus Christi in Lisbon, 1582

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In Renaissance Lisbon, the procession of Corpus Christi was not only the most important event on the liturgical calendar but also one of the largest collectively produced works of art. This article argues that, in order to understand this complex, multi‐layered artwork, it is necessary to move beyond such categorical opposites as ‘local vs. other’, ‘artist vs. viewer’ and even ‘people vs. things’, and instead approach these processions as a certain kind of hybrid. Focussing on a publication that recounts the Corpus Christi procession of September 1582, held to coincide with King Philip II of Spain’s residency in Lisbon, the first part of the article examines the diverse artistic origins of elements of the procession, which included highly decorated streets, music, dances, and countless figures of saints and demons, demonstrating that Renaissance Lisbon was a hybrid space. The second part of the article asks how this hybridity can be studied when art historical concepts and methods developed for canonical European art do not easily apply. It instead proposes an anthropologically inspired framework that defines Lisbon’s Corpus Christi as a networked hybrid of things, humans, and ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)572-592
JournalRenaissance Studies
Issue number4
Early online date14 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2020


  • Corpus Christi
  • Lisbon
  • Hybridity
  • Iberian world
  • Spectacle


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