Appel à communication : « Travelling Objects » (Rome, 19-20 Mai 2017)

louvre-vue-naples-avec-vesuveTravelling Objects. Ambassadors of the cultural transfer between Italy and the Habsburg monarchy

The international conference travelling objects will focus on the material aspects of cultural transfers: the exchange of paintings, designs/drawings, sculptures or books. Our specific interest is in the movement of these inherently ambassadorial objects between Italy and the Habsburg Monarchy during the 17th and 18th centuries, and their reception and role in the transmission of information and ideas between the North and the South. Special attention will be given to the agents of the exchange, who promoted, organized or mediated the exchange.

– Collecting without borders The extensive art collections of the nobility in the Habsburg lands – for instance Liechtenstein, Czernin or Savoyen – as well as the imperial picture gallery were products of a massive importation of artworks from Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries. Diplomatic missions and the Grand Tour gave collectors direct access to the Italian art market. At the same time, ambassadors and envoys from Italy took advantage of their sojourns at the Imperial court to acquire and mediate works of art for their home courts.

– The Art of Gift-Giving The exchange of representative gifts was a fundamental aspect of Early Modern diplomacy. The act of gift-giving was a form of symbolic communication which articulated political interests, claims or demonstrations of fidelity. Furthermore, certain gifts – notably portraits, medals or paintings – served as signs of friendship as well as devices for the self-promotion of artists. Transnational gift-giving is also a testament of cultural exchange: regional luxury goods not only conveyed prestige and fashion trends but also transmitted technical know-how.

The conference travelling objects is organized by Silvia Tammaro and Gernot Mayer (University of Vienna) and aims to link established scholars with young researchers. Scheduled to take place in Rome, 19-20 May 2017, this event is a cooperation between the Austrian Historical Institute in Rome (ÖHI) and the University of Vienna. The conference languages are: Italian, German and English. Please send your proposal (1-2 pages) and a short CV to and by 15 January 2017. A partial reimbursement of travel costs will be offered.

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