Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Forgotten World: Florentine Patricians as Patrons, Collectors, Cultural Brokers under Medici Rule (1530-1743)

A Forgotten World: Florentine Patricians as Patrons, Collectors, Cultural Brokers under Medici Rule (1530-1743)
March 3-5, 2011
University of Groningen, The Netherlands

This first international conference on the cultural habitus of Florentine patricians during the principate of the Medici originates from a research project at the University of Groningen, started in 2007 by prof.dr. H.Th. van Veen.
The flourishing cultural life of the Florentine patricians during the principate of the Medici has either been forgotten or ignored for a long time. There has been little interest in patricians as commissioners of palaces, villas and chapels, as participants in academies and confraternities, and in patrician engagement in art, literature, theatre and music. In the twentieth century historians have systematically portrayed the patricians as sycophant courtiers, only interested in gaining noble titles and estates. The fact that reality was much more complex and dynamic, has become clear only in the last two decades. Through groundbreaking research in the field of socio-economic history, prosopography and political science, the image we have of the Florentine patrician is now changing, These studies show that patricians, as a group, were still holding on to most of the economic and institutional power they had obtained in the fifteenth century. The studies also show that patrician diplomatic missions played an important role in the arranging of marriages and foreign politics of the Medici. Remarkably, this historical revisionism is taken up by very few art historians, even though we now know that the contribution of patricians to the cultural dynamics of early modern Florence was highly significant.
The ambition of this conference is to discuss the cultural contribution of patricians to Florentine society and to approach it from an interdisciplinary perspective. The main question we will address is: how can we designate the dynamics, already observed in economical and political studies, in the cultural field? Other relevant questions are: how can we compare the cultural activities and ways of self-representation of the patricians, to those of the Medici? Did patricians facilitate or emulate the grand dukes? Or were they even seeking to rebel against them? Were the cultural objectives of the patricians homogeneous in character, or did they differ from one family to another? By stimulating the debate on an international level, we hope to shed more light on the nature and intentions of patrician art patronage and their collecting activities in this period.
We welcome proposals for papers addressing various aspects of Florentine patrician patronage. Applications from a variety of disciplines (Art History, Cultural History, History of Literature, Theatre and Music) and approaches are encouraged. Selected papers will also be considered for publication.
Please send proposals (paper title and a 200-300 word abstract) to Henk van Veen ( by December 1, 2010. Please include a brief CV and a paragraph describing your area of study, institutional affiliation and full contact information (address, phone number, and email).