The Matter of Ephemeral Art: Craft, Spectacle, and Power in Early Modern Europe Academic Article uri icon


  • Through a close reading and reconstruction of technical recipes for ephemeral artworks in a manuscript compiled in Toulouse ca. 1580 (BnF MS Fr. 640), we question whether ephemeral art should be treated as a distinct category of art. The illusion and artifice underpinning ephemeral spectacles shared the aims and, frequently, the materials and techniques of art more generally. Our analysis of the manuscript also calls attention to other aspects of art making that reframe consideration of the ephemeral, such as intermediary processes, durability, the theatrical and transformative potential of materials, and the imitation and preservation of lifelikeness.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, P. H., Uchacz, T. H., Pitman, S., Taape, T., & Debuiche, C.

citation count

  • 2

complete list of authors

  • Smith, Pamela H||Uchacz, Tianna Helena||Pitman, Sophie||Taape, Tillmann||Debuiche, Colin

publication date

  • January 2020