My Quote of Today

I like that quote as it challenges ‘popular’ perception of the ‘our European’ heritage as an exclusively Judeo-Christian affair (quite popular again as you might have noticed in discussions surrounding Muslims/Islam in Europe):

Cultural identity in early modern Europe, we are arguing, was formed out of direct encounters between artefacts exchanged amongst international communities at distinct geographical locations. In the ensuing process of image-sharpening, representations recognizable by both partners in the cultural transaction tended to dominate. Ultimately, the ‘meaning’ or (in cultural historical terms) ‘reading’ tended towards the common interpretative ground between the two. Over time, further compromises and consolidation may take place, somewhat loosening the hold of the original strong sense of iconic meaning.

(Lisa Jardine & Jerry Botton 2000: Global Interests: Renaissance Art between East and West. London: Reaktion Books. 133)

The authors of the book this is taken from particularly look at the exchange of (art) objects and ideas between Christian (Catholic as well as Protestant) Europe and the Ottoman Empire. But, of course, Africans and African artefacts – think of the famous Afro-Portuguese Ivories for a start or the envoys of Christian African states at the Vatican which have been depicted in contemporary art[1] … - equally must have played a role!

[1] For a start you might want to have a look at Kate Lowe’s discussion published in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. Vol. 17 (2007). 101-28. [If you or your institutions subscribe to the journal the link should take you straight to the paper]


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