Conflict, Commerce, and an Aesthetic of Appropriation in the Italian Maritime Cities, 1000-1150


In Conflict, Commerce, and an Aesthetic of Appropriation in the Italian Maritime Cities, 1000-1150, Karen Rose Mathews analyzes the relationship between war, trade, and the use of spolia (appropriated objects from past and foreign cultures) as architectural decoration in the public monuments of the Italian maritime republics in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. This comparative study addressing five urban centers argues that the multivalence of spolia and their openness to new interpretations made them the ideal visual form to define a distinct Mediterranean identity for the inhabitants of these cities, celebrating the wealth and prestige that resulted from the paired endeavors of war and commerce while referencing the cultures across the sea that inspired the greatest hostility, fear, or admiration.

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Biographical Note

Karen Rose Mathews, Ph.D. (1995), University of Chicago, is an Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami. She has published extensively on the use of spolia in the visual culture of the Mediterranean, concentrating on the artistic production of medieval Italy.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments List of Illustrations Introduction: Visualizing Commerce and Conflict in the Maritime Cities of Medieval Italy   Conflict and Commerce in the Medieval Mediterranean   Visualizing the Relationship between Trade and Conflict Through an Aesthetic of Appropriation 1 Local Traditions and Norman Innovations in the Artistic Culture of Southern Italy   Introduction   Local Traders and Norman Warriors in Southern Italy   Forging an Amalfitan International Style: The Art Patronage of the Local Elite   Norman Architectural Patronage and the Spolia Aesthetic 2 Emulation of and Appropriation from Byzantium in Venetian Visual Culture   Introduction   Conflict, Trade, and the Venetian Presence in the Eastern Mediterranean   Appropriated Relics from Byzantium   Relics, Spoils, and Spolia in Venetian Art and Architecture 3 The Interplay of Islamic and Ancient Roman Spolia on Pisan Churches   Introduction   Commerce and Conflict in Eleventh and Twelfth-century Pisa   The Signification of Ancient and Contemporary Muslim Spoils onPisan Churches 4 Rivalry with Pisa and Spolia as Plunder of War in Medieval Genoa   Introduction   Crusade Campaigns and Commercial Compensation    Spolia as Plunder in the Art and Architecture of Genoa   The Aesthetic of Appropriation and Competition with Pisa Conclusion: Shifting Significations of the Spolia Aesthetic Select Bibliography   Primary Sources   Secondary Sources


All interested in the intersection of material and visual culture across the medieval Mediterranean and the cross-cultural interaction that facilitated the movement of people and the exchange of goods and ideas.