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Current Research. Lektüreseminar am ZI mit Aaron M. Hyman: The Matter of Merchant Paper



von 14:00 bis 16:00


Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Katharina-von-Bora-Str. 10, München, Vortragssaal 242, II. OG

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Around 1608, Peter Paul Rubens produced an oil sketch of the face of a Black man, a head study that the Flemish artist would ultimately mobilize in a large painting of the Adoration of the Magi. To make the initial sketch, he reached for a sheet of merchant paper scrawled with a list of transactions—sums exchanged for goods received and shipped. It would be easy to wave this away as a case of simple, frugal reuse: the artist reached for what was at hand, readily and cheaply available. This paper (a chapter of a book in progress) argues, instead, that the sheet mattered quite a bit more and shaped not only Rubens’s aesthetic choices but also the thematic resonances that accreted around a figure that would play a large role in the artist’s career and pictorial imaginary.


Aaron M. Hyman is assistant professor in the Department of the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University and currently a fellow in residence at the Universität Bern as part of the ERC-funded “Global Horizons in Pre-modern Art.” He is author of Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America (Getty Research Institute, 2021), which was awarded Best Book in Colonial Latin American Studies published between 2019-22 by the Latin American Studies Association, honorable mention for the Renaissance Society of America’s Phyllis Goodhart Gordon Book Prize, and honorable mention for Association for Latin American Art-Arvey Foundation Book Award. This talk emerges from a new book project, Formalities: The Visual Potential of Script in Art of the Early Modern Spanish World, which has been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Newberry Library in Chicago, and the Thoma Foundation.

[Caption: Peter Paul Rubens, Study for Balthazar, about 1609-1611]

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