Memory and Distance: Learning from a Gilded Silver Vase (Antwerp, c. 1530)

Diogenes 51 (1):99-112 (2004)
This article concerns a silver beaker (now at the Residenzmuseum, Munich) decorated with scenes which seem to be related to the Spanish conquest of Mexico. On the basis of stylistic, iconographic and archival evidence the silversmith is here tentatively identified with an Italian-born artist, Stefano Capello, who is thought to have added a decoration to a pre-existing beaker on the eve of the treaty of Cambrai (3 August 1529). Margaret of Austria, aunt of the emperor Charles V, might have given the beaker as a gift to Louise of Savoy, mother of Francis I, king of France. The article argues, relying upon Warburg’s notion of Pathosformeln (formulas of emotion), that in the early 16th century the New World was perceived and made familiar through an Old World idiom, based on visual formulas taken from classical antiquity and mediated by the Italian Renaissance
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