Elsje van Kessel

Investigador Visitante

University of St Andrews

Stolen Ships and Globalisation: Asian Material Culture in Europe c. 1600
This project examines the successes and drawbacks of early modern globalisation by analysing the movements of art objects on board two Portuguese cargo ships from Asia. Reconstructing the trajectories of objects on board after the English and the Dutch stole these vessels, and studying the debates these thefts and the involved artworks evoked upon dispersal in Europe, the project will help us understand how globalisation was driven by the circulation of material things, and how this complex process was conceived around 1600. 

Dr Elsje van Kessel is a Lecturer in Art History at the University of St Andrews. She completed her Ph.D. at Leiden University in 2011. She is the author of The Lives of Paintings: Presence, Agency and Likeness in Venetian Art of the Sixteenth-Century (De Gruyter, 2017). She has received numerous fellowships, grants and awards: among others, an annual stipend at the Centre Allemand d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris, grants from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Museum, and, most recently, a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Elsje’s research is broadly concerned with the viewing, use and display of early modern art. In her monograph The Lives of Paintings, she examines how and why people in Titian’s Venice treated certain paintings and other works of art as living beings. Ongoing research focuses on the art of display in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Venice, Paris, and Lisbon. Her Leverhulme Trust funded project looks at the circulation of Asian material culture between Portugal, England and Holland c. 1600. Further research and teaching interests include portraiture, early modern art theory, early museums, the visual arts in literature, and theories of presence and the agency of things.

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