Practices of Entanglement. Mediating Art, Knowledge, and Trade between Florence and Flanders in the Early Modern Era (c. 1550 – 1680)

Madeline Delbé

Vier Darstellungen von Reisenden, Titelblatt zu J.C. ten Hoorn: Reis-boek door de Vereenigde Nederlandsche Provincien, Amsterdam: Jan Claesz ten Hoorn, 1689 (Detail) © Rijksmuseum

The PhD project focuses on the mobility of Flemish and Italian artists in the late 16th and the 17th century, scrutinising the cultural and artistic dynamics between mainly Florence and Antwerp during this period. By identifying and connecting sites of artistic interrelations and mediation between artists, patrons, artistic centres, and mediators such as merchants or diplomats, my dissertation project analyses the artistic production and transfer between Florence and Flanders as well as the trading and cultural network linked to art. In doing so, it aims to investigate which kinds of transfer were conducted between these two metropolises in the early modern period and whether this can be defined as a distinctive phenomenon, transferable to parallel artistic dynamics in Europe at the time.

Florence and Antwerp share a history: Both once were the most flourishing art centres in their geographical area. However, in the course of the 16th century, they became subject to an economic and social decline which inevitably affected the production of art, the trade with it, and the mobility of the cities’ artists. Unlike the majority of previous studies on the cities in question, it is precisely the foreshadows of this decline that mark the beginning of my analysis; the second half of the 16th century. Moreover, my thesis considers the dependence of close-by sites – like the court of Brussels as the governmental centre in the Southern Netherlands or Livorno as the harbour to Florence – that complete the functionalities of the two metropolises as not mere cities but major art and trading centres. Combining different methods into an innovative approach for the analysis of cultural-artistic mobility and the mobility of the artist, my thesis seeks to contribute a valuable study in the research field of short distance transcultural interactions in Early Modern Europe.


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