Typical Venice? Venetian Commodities, 13th-16th centuries (3-6 March 2016)

095L12230_6GNHR_1[1]Call for Papers

Deutsches Studienzentrum in Venice, Palazzo Barbarigo della Terrazza,
March 3 – 06, 2016
Deadline: Oct 31, 2015

Organizer: Dr. Philippe Cordez (ENB-Nachwuchsforschergruppe “Premodern
Objects”, Department Kunstwissenschaften, LMU Munich) and PD Dr.
Romedio Schmitz-Esser (Deutsches Studienzentrum in Venice)

What are “Venetian” commodities? More than any other medieval or early
modern city, Venice lived off of the trade of portable goods. In
addition to trading foreign imports, the city also engaged in intense
local production, manufacturing high quality glass, crystal, cloth,
metal, enamel, leather, and ceramic objects, characterized by their
exceedingly rich forms and complex production processes. Today, these
objects are scattered in collections throughout the world, but little
remains in Venice itself. In individual instances, it is often
difficult to tell whether the objects in question were actually made in
Venice or if they originated in Byzantine, Islamic, or other European

This conference focuses on the question of how Venice designed and
exported its own identity through all kinds of its goods, long before
ideas about the city were propagated by, shaped through and crystalized
in images (the countless, largely standardized vedute). We especially
invite papers that address the following questions:
What was the relationship between raw commodities like wood, stone,
wool or foodstuffs, which varied in their degrees of value, and
specifically artistic products? Where do luxury goods that were
processed in Venice, such as medicines, spices, or pigments, fit into
the picture? What was the relationship between portable objects that
could be acquired and the city’s other, inalienable riches, such as
architecture and church treasures?
How could Venetian merchants, craftsmen, or artists generate a specific
set of expectations with respect to their wares and what kinds of
organizational and aesthetic strategies were used to meet these
expectations? What role did the Senate play, for instance, by imposing
import bans? What did travelers expect from Venice and what did they
find? Where and how were commodities from Venice received elsewhere?
What was perceived to be and labeled as “Venetian,” from medieval
“Orientalism” in the city to the “façon de Venise” in the whole of
Europe? Finally, can Venetian “commodity” concepts be reconstructed and
to what extent can similarities and differences be identified between
Venice and the commodity cultures of other cities in the Mediterranean
and in Europe?

Expected contributions could address “Venetian” commodity categories
and object groups individually or in relation to each other or in
relation to larger, overarching issues. Papers written from the
perspectives of the history of art, economy, law, literature or other
historical sciences are welcome.
Travel and accommodation costs will be defrayed. Speakers will be
invited to participate in an anthology on the same subject following
the conference. The working languages are mainly English and Italian,
but papers in German and French will also be considered.

Please send an abstract (one page) and a short CV to

The deadline for abstract submissions is 31.10.2015.


Published by James Alexander Cameron

I am an art historian working primarily on medieval parish church architecture. I completed my doctorate on sedilia in medieval England in 2015 at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

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