1. ARTISTIC EXCHANGE BETWEEN THE ISLAMIC WORLD AND ITALY IN THE 15TH CENTURY
Architecture is one of the most visible forms of artistic exchange. Venice offers some of the best examples in Europe of Middle Eastern architecture:
- the streets of the city show similarity between the architectural structures of Damascus and those of Venice.
- The Church of San Marco is the reliquary where the Apostle Mark rests and was modelled on the Church dedicated to Mark in Byzantium: exotic skyline and its famous domes modelled on Egyptian architecture.
- Limits to exchange
- The vision of the ‘East’ remained a complex mix of stereotypical images of Oriental costumes and buildings: exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris on Venice and the East.
- Costume books continued to present a rather flat image of the Orient.
- The 1438-39 Council
In 1438-39 during the Council of the Catholic and Orthodox churches that took place in Ferrara and Florence with John Paleologus, the Byzantine emperor, present. See Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton’s Global Interests: Renaissance Art between East and West.
For the meeting the first renaissance medal was produced by the famous artist Pisanello for the Duke of Ferrara: example of humanism but the Emperor is dressed in a Tartar-style pointed hat and Muslim garments. Hybrid objects. 2. THE BELLINI ENCOUNTER AND MAMLUCK MODE
- Mehmed II’s cultural plan
In 1453 Mehmed II conquered Constantinople. In the following year he made of Costantinople, renamed Istanbul, one of the most important cities in the world.
Mehmed was also a patron of the arts. The Arab and Persian culture were predominant in the Ottoman Empire, but interest for classical antiquity. Mehmed pictured himself as the new ‘Alexander the Great’.
- Gentile Bellini came from a family of artists. During his stay in Istanbul in 1480, Bellini executed the famous portrait of Mehmed II now at the National Gallery. The painting influenced new ways of producing portraiture in the Ottoman Empire and inspired the famous Sinan’s portrait of Mehmed.
- Bellini produced medals and other portrait of Mehmed II, and several portraits of courtiers for the Topkapi palace, that are now lost. He also produced a series of exquisite drawings of people seen at court or in the streets of Istanbul.
- Bellini’s Legacy
The mission was a success. However the legacy of this mission did not last. Most of the paintings by Bellini were sold by Emperor Bayazet II. Several Italian artists were invited at the Ottoman court in the 1520s and 1530s, including the famous literary figure Aretino.
- The Mamluk style
From the 1490s to the 1520s, in Venice development of the so-called Mamluk mode
With great importance played by Syrian and Egyptian costumes and settings in Venetian paintings of the period: a true 'Orientalism'. 3. PAINTINGS AND ART BETWEEN EUROPE AND ASIA
The effort to convert not just in China but also in India and other parts of Asia had to be accompanied by representations of the key symbol of Christianity. Often European clergymen had to rely on the skills of local craftsmen and artists.
- Hybridism and Adaptation
Importance of creating forms that were acceptable to converts and potential converts but might lead to assimilation without bearing their original meaning.
- European Artists in China
In China we see the presence of European artists from the sixteenth century:
- Giovanni Niccolo’ travelled first to Japan and later to China in the early 17th century decorating churches in Beijing and Macao.
- Giovanni Gherardini expands the European vocabulary and the French architect Charles de Belleville (1657-1730) introduced paintings of trompe l'oeil frescos.
- In 1711-23 the Neapolitan Matteo Ripa was active at the court of Kangxi. He was the first to make copper engravings in China.
- Giuseppe Castiglione
The main artist of the Sino-European style was Giuseppe Castiglione. He arrived in China in 1715, served for 49 years under three emperors. He transkated Andrea Pozzo's Perspective Pictorum et Architectorum (1698).
Castiglione is an example of forms of ‘Occientalism’ that matches the search for oriental forms in Europe. Castiglione became the official portraitist for Emperor Qianlong.
- Chinese scroll paintings already brought to Europe by the Franciscans during the Pax Mongolica period (e. 1250-1350). In the 18th century they could be found in country houses in Europe and America.
- water-based paintings on paper were a central part of the trade from Canton where they were shipped in boxes that could contain 400 of them.
- Chinese Wallpaper
It was used in Europe as alternative to much more expensive covering of walls. Chinese exports of wallpaper is documented since the 1690s. Wallpapers allow cheap decoration in what was a popular style of chinoiserie in 18th-century Europe.
- Chinese artists
A small number of literati converted to Christianity and visited or resided in Europe as in the case of Shen Fu Tsung who catalogued the Chinese texts at the Bodleian library. 4. ART AND EMBASSIES
Central to the relationships between the Kingdoms of Europe and the Empires and Kingdoms of Asia. Embassies were carefully managed events and were used to ingratiate oneself to the ruler.
- The Siamese embassy
One of the most famous embassies was that sent by Louis XIV to the ruler of the wealthy kingdom of Siam, Phra Narai in 1685.
- Embassies to China
The Chinese court and the Emperor were particularly fond of one European artistic product: automata: complex clocks that served not just to measure time but also as ‘divertissements’. The Palace in Bejing still preserves the largest collection (c. 50 pieces) in the world.
- The MacCartney embassy
Embassy of 1792 to the Chinese court (see Maxine Berg’s article) contained a variety of objects that the Europeans carried as symbols of their superiority. (?) 5. CONCLUSION
The role of art in creating connections; but also art as distinctive.