Ph.D. Candidate, Art History Department
University of Chicago
Friday, May 27, 4- 6 pm
Asia Materialized: Perceptions of China in Renaissance Florence
Asia Materialized: Perceptions of China in Renaissance Florence,” examines how three of the most highly valued Chinese imports—porcelain, refined silk textiles, and spices—shaped Italian Renaissance artistic and technological creation under the early Medici Dukes (c. 1537–87). Because direct, personal connections between China and Italy were extremely limited during this period, these imports acted as ‘ambassadors,’ the tangible evidence Florentines had of a place they otherwise only knew from travel narratives such as Marco Polo’s.
My VMPEA presentation will offer a brief overview of the larger project, and a more focused discussion of my most recent work on the silk chapter. It has become axiomatic that silk was among the most important Chinese imports in Europe, across the ages; however, this assumption is rarely interrogated or elaborated beyond the most general statement, or allusion to the “silk road.” Today’s discussion will press the question by analyzing silk from the perspective of its production, representation, and finally its actual use in sixteenth century Florence.