Mobile Things: On the Origins and the Meanings of Levantine Objects in Early Modern Venice

Mobile Things: On the Origins and the Meanings of Levantine Objects in Early Modern Venice Detail of lidded bowl, 1500–50 (plate ).An elaborate brass wine‐cup in the collection of Victoria and Albert Museum, London (plate ) exemplifies the analytic complexities this essay will explore: incised and inlaid with silver in the Levantine manner known as damascening and marked with the coat of arms of the Priuli family of Venice, the cup is a cultural composite that challenges modern art‐historical and museological classifications, specifically those based on a geography of origins. The V&A's own cataloguing points to the problem at hand. Although the cup resides in the European galleries, the museum's on‐line description lists place of origin as ‘Syria (possibly, made); Damascus, Syria (probably, decorated); Egypt (possibly, made)’, while also speculating that the cup was likely fabricated in the Middle East, the foot in Venice, and the whole sent to Syria for decoration in a single workshop. Such geographic contortions are not unique to the Priuli wine‐cup. Many objects associated with the affluent mercantile culture of early modern Venice are fusions – whether literal or conceptual – that inhibit a clear identification of origins, and this is particularly true of damascened brassware. For as the Venetian market for Levantine pieces flourished in the later fifteenth and sixteenth http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Art History Wiley

Mobile Things: On the Origins and the Meanings of Levantine Objects in Early Modern Venice