In 1790, on the recommendation of Willem Anne Lestevenon, Teyler’s Foundation purchased a collection of some 1,700 drawings in Rome, the majority of which were by great Italian masters such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Parmigianino and Guercino. Also included in the purchase were Dutch and French drawings, by Goltzius and Claude Lorrain among others. The acquisition of the Italian works has often surprised later researchers. For a long time the prevailing assumption was that Dutch collectors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were primarily interested in their own cultural and artistic heritage. It was assumed that the Italian drawings lay dormant after their acquisition until they were discovered by art historians around 1900. In this contribution the author will examine the validity of that interpretation with the help of hitherto neglected source material, and take an important step in research into the motivation, function, and context of art theory regarding that acquisition. The role of Lestevenon, the hitherto neglected key figure in this transaction, will be emphasized.
In the Museo de la Real Colegiata de San Isidoro in León, Spain, an intriguing portable altar is on display. Its multicolored stone and long inscription detailing the material objects enshrined within invite an analysis of the artwork in terms of materiality and mobility. This article addresses the multiple questions raised by the altar, shifting away from a straightforward interpretation of patronage by Sancha of León-Castilla (ca. 1095–1159), whose name is inscribed on its face. Conceptualizing the altar as a multilayered object that can be placed within Sancha’s network of connections facilitates our understanding of this exotic artifact between León and the Levant.
In this methodological essay, I present the fruits of research carried out by an interdisciplinary group of scholars 2016–2018, which centered on the Treasury of San Isidoro de León, while also introducing the more wide-ranging comparative work going forward 2019–2022 under the auspices of a reconfigured team. By republishing our studies in open access, we aim to reach a larger community of scholars; our longer-term goal is to move further out into the consciousness of modern society, locating for an interested general public the Leonese collection within its broader historical framework and holding it up for comparison with other significant sites. Cross-cultural luxury objects oblige a shift in the direction of our historical gaze, bringing into clear focus the many collaborations across faiths and the repeated examples of protagonism by women during the central Middle Ages.