This panel considers the role played by art and material culture in early modern diplomatic relations. It examines the ways material goods shaped political exchanges, and how such exchanges influenced the global production and circulation of art and material culture between Asia and Europe.
Whilst much has been written about the circulation of artistic objects and luxuries in the early modern world, little attention has so far been paid to the specificities involved in the exchange of diplomatic gifts. The questions that this panel expects to address through a series of innovative papers focusing on Europe and Asia are thus manifold: what made an object worthy of being gifted in the early modern period, how was the value of diplomatic gifts established in complex cross-cultural settings, who were the people in charge of making, chosing, carrying and receiving gifts, and how do we even know that any specific object served a diplomatic purpose at all? The papers selected explore these and other challenging questions through a number of case studies chosen from European and Asia contexts, generally - though not always - involving encounters between representatives of the two continents. We expect colourful presentations and lively discussions that will help us define the fundamentals of a freshly emerging subfield of historical and art historical enquiry.