We are soliciting abstracts for RSA Chicago 2024 on the theme of “Worlding the Early Modern Netherlands: Global Routes of Mobility and Cultural Intersection”. Organisers: Dr Adam Sammut, University of York and Dr Braden Scott, Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History.
Please send paper titles, abstracts, contact details and short CVs to firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 August 2024.
Summary: The Low Countries were a crucible of both European art history and early modern globalisation. As a former Spanish territory, Belgium stood at the crux of a world empire that stretched from Cusco to Manila. In turn, the newly-independent Dutch Republic established a trading empire running from Brazil to Nagasaki. This panel will explore visual production in the early modern Netherlands from a transcultural perspective, encompassing such things as paintings, architecture, tomb sculpture, Mexican feather work, Chinese export porcelain, textiles and jewellery. It will reimagine the region as a site of cosmopolitan exchange and colonial entanglement, revealing Belgium and the Netherlands to be culturally porous in spite of the modern border.
As Wendy Chun asks, ‘How and why has “It’s a network” become a valid answer—the end, rather than the beginning, of an explanation?’ This panel will cast global routes of mobility through the Low Countries as catalysts of cultural intersection in early modern art. For example, Rubens and Rembrandt copied Persian and Indian miniatures, the latter on Japanese paper. A plethora of “exotic” commodities feature in still lives. Meanwhile, enslaved Africans were trafficked through Antwerp and Amsterdam before posing as studio models. If global networks are understood from both sides, artworks produced within them can give voice to marginalised peoples and challenge Eurocentric narratives that paintings commonly enforce. By decentring Western Europe, this panel will demonstrate how global artistic engagement in the Low Countries helped define what it meant to be European in the so-called Age of Discovery.