The Problem with Tracking Origins in the Baltic Sea
About This Event
This paper looks at the mobility of multimedia winged retables across the Baltic Sea, a highly interconnected region through mercantile trade before expansive early modern encounters. Although these carved and polychromed devotional objects traveled long distances to different viewing communities, their precise origins nonetheless remain the yardstick to measure their art historical significance. Foundational scholarship in the twentieth-century attributed these retables to workshops from Lübeck, Germany, and as a result, the entire field has been hierarchically sorted around the primacy of Lübeck origins. This paper challenges the method of tracking origins by style to question the relevance of origins as an indicator of meaning. As I focus on fifteenth-and early sixteenth-century altarpieces, I also offer larger historiographic and methodological concerns as the field adapts to fit mobile objects into the deeply-entrenched classifications of who, made what, when, and where.
"The Problem with Tracking Origins in the Baltic Sea" will be presented by Professor Laura Tillery of Hamilton College