This talk discusses the reception and consumption of Chinese porcelain in Renaissance Iberia following the establishment of the Cape Route in 1497–9. It will show that by the mid-sixteenth century Chinese porcelain was already an inexpensive luxury to the upper and middle-upper segments of the urban population, who used these wares on a daily basis.
Please register by 9 Jan 2022
This conclusion is largely based on Portuguese archival sources and data taken from archaeological excavations conducted in Portugal and former Portuguese Morocco. However, higher availability and affordability did not imply homogeneous consumption behaviour regarding Chinese porcelain. In fact, five major complementary consumption patterns can be differentiated in sixteenth-century Iberia: 1) porcelains as prized collectables due to their expensive silver mounts;2) porcelains as diplomatic gifts and pious offerings; 3) early chine de commande; 4) glass and porcelain chambers containing hundreds of porcelains; and5) porcelains as lavish tableware used on a daily basis.
This talk offers an innovative view of a topic that has been chiefly analysed from an Anglo-Dutch historiographic perspective, too heavily dependent on the VOC’s archives and on an Anglo–Dutch bias against the Iberian Catholic empires. It also contributes to enriching the debate about globalisation and consumption of overseas cultural goods in Europe during the early modern era, emphasizing the asynchrony and diversity of local responses. Finally, it offers new data on the formation of the first porcelain cabinets in Europe, which began to be developed during the second half of the sixteenth century by female members of Iberian royalty and high aristocracy.
Luís U. Afonso is Professor of Art History at the Faculdade de Letras (School of Arts) of the University of Lisbon. He holds a BA (1995), an MA (1999), a PhD (2006) and an Agregação (2017) in art history. His research is mainly focused on Portuguese art (c.1350-c.1550), hybridization processes in Portuguese overseas art (c.1450-c.1600), and art markets. His publications include the volume Sephardic Book Art of the 15th century (Brepols, 2019) and several research papers published in history and art history journals (e.g., African Arts, ArchivoEspañol de Arte, Artibus et Historiae, Burlington Magazine, International Journal of Arts Management, Journal of World History, Mande Studies, Mediterranean Studies, Mitteilungen der Carl JustiVereinigung, Perspective, The Medieval History Journal, Viator and Wartburg-Jahrbuch).
To attend please register on the IHR website (do note that you must register by Sunday); go to https://www.history.ac.uk/seminars/collecting-display; click on the “book now” red button for the appropriate seminar.
You will be sent a link to the zoom session on the day of the seminar. If you do not receive it by midday, check your spam, email collectingdisplay@gmailcom or text +447881630121and we will send you the link directly.
Please note that exceptionally the seminar will not be posted on the IHR site until 4 January.
Convenors: Susan Bracken, Andrea M. Gáldy, Adriana Turpin