Visual Arts and Communication of Power

Activities in 2016


Joško Belamarić gave a public lecture on Dubrovnik villas

On November 10th, 2016 Joško Belamarić gave a public lecture entitled Renaissance Villas in Gruž, Dubrovnik – History, Condition and Perspectives, during the “Institute of Art History Open Days” held at the Institute’s subsidiary in Split, the Cvito Fisković Centre. In his lecture, Belamarić presented the achievements of Croatian art historical discipline in interpreting the most important Dubrovnik Renaissance villas. The author explored possible prototypes and characteristic architectural types of ground plans of Dubrovnik villas, as well as their relationship to the ideas of restoring the country residence model of the Antiquity. He emphasized the tendency of Dubrovnik patricians to establish their villas as cornerstones of social order, as a place where their children were to be formed, because as Nikola Vidov Gučetić said (Dello stato delle republiche secondo la mente di Aristole con essempi moderni, 1591): “he who wishes to govern the City must first learn to govern his home”

Milan Pelc at the conference about Nikola Zrinski (Zrínyi) of Szigetvár

On the Occasion of the 450th Anniversary if the Szigetvár Battle (1566) a conference entitled The Impact of the Battle of Szigetvár and the Myth of Nikola Šubić Zrinski on the Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Literature) was organised in the Croatian Institute of History in Zagreb (2–4 November 2016). The organizers were Studia Croatica of the University of Zagreb, Croatian Institute of History and  Croatian Musicological Society. In the Visual Arts section of the conference Milan Pelc held a lecture entitled Immortali laude dignus Nicolaus illustris comes Serinensis. Nikola Zrinski od Szigetvár in Books with Biographies and Portraits of Famous People. Nikola Zrinski was represented as immortal hero in two publications of such type in the late 16th century: HEINRICH PANTALEON, Der dritte und letste Theil Warhafften Helden, Basel, Erben N. Brylingers 1570.; ANDRÉ THEVET, Les vrais pourtraits et vies des hommes illustres grecz, latins et payens, recueilliz de leur tableaux, Paris, 1584. In these books, very popular among the intellctual elite of the period, the heroic act of Nikola Zrinski  was transformed to an eternal  exemplum virtutis  according to the models of ancient mythopoetic tradition imitated by writers of Renaissance and Humanism.


Milan Pelc at Zadar Conference and School

From October 25 to 28, the University of Zadar, Department of Information Sciences, hosted the international Conference and School on Authority, Provenance, Authenticity, Evidence. Milan Pelc participated in the Conference with a lecture entitled Prints and Drawings Between Originality, Authenticity and Authority: Examples from the Valvasor Collection of the Zagreb Archdiocese.The lecture was focussed on the problems of processing drawings and prints from a historical collection such as Valvasor's, especially regarding the questions of authority and originality. Some characteristic types of relationship between drawings and prints in terms of their originality and authenticity were discussed, particularly in relation to engravings of city views in Valvasor's topographical works.

Milan Pelc and Petra Batelja at the conference „XV. Dani Cvita Fiskovića“ in Zadar

On September 30th, 2016 project leader Milan Pelc, PhD and team member, doctoral student Petra Batelja participated at the conference „XV. Dani Cvita Fiskovića“ (15th Days of Cvito Fisković) held from the September 28th to October 1st, 2016 in Zadar. The conference entitled "Visual Arts, Architecture and Historical Identities" was organized by the Department of Art History, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb and Zadar.

In his presentation "Ius supremi patronatus regis: Holy Hungarian Kings in Liturgical Books of Zagreb Bishops Around 1500.", M. Pelc presented a segment of the iconography of the Hungarian rulers Stephan, Ladislaus and Emeric in Zagreb Diocese from the medieval and early modern period. Iconography of the Hungarian kings, part of the visual identity of Zagreb bishops, partially related with the "apostolic right" and the "ius supremi patronatus regis" is visually represented in the liturgical books (missals and breviaries) of Zagreb Bishops Juraj of Topusko, Luka de Szeged and Simon Erdödy. Possible interpretation of the ruler's images accentuate religious-political identity of Zagreb Diocese as part of the Hungarian royal jurisdiction in early modern period.

In her lecture entitled "Collective Religious Identity on the Examples of Virgin Mary of Mercy from Trški Vrh and Vinagora" dated from the 18th and 19th century, P. Batelja gave an interpretation of the wall paintings in these two pilgrimage churches pointing out the elements of its public, collective and religious identity. Examples of Virgin Mary of Mercy’s iconography in the northern Croatia from the 18th century usually contain elements that can be interpreted as tendencies of self-promotion, power and personal interests of the commissioners (such as royal insignia, coat of arms, portrait of the commissioner, etc.). The examples from Zagorje without the iconography of the patronacy reflect different conception of collective religious identity of local community.


Mirjana Repanić-Braun at the international symposium at Marija Bistrica

Mirjana Repanić-Braun participated in the work International Symposium Passion Heritage kajkavian regions, held between June 17th and 19th, 2016 in Marija Bistrica.

In her presentation entitled Passion themes in the Art Heritage of Croatian Zagorje she presented the results of field and archival research of Baroque painting in that region, from the paintings on the altar of St. Wolfgang in Vukovoj, altars dedicated to the suffering and crucified Christ and the Sorrowful Mother of God in Lepoglava to the wall paintings in the chapel of St. Cross in the Parish Church of St. Martin in Donja Voća. In her paper, these examples of Croatian artistic heritage were considered in the context of written and visual sources for specific themes of the Passion.

Mirjana Repanić-Braun held a lecture in Rijeka

On June 9, 2016 at the University of Rijeka Mirjana Repanić-Braun held a public lecture Porta al Mare - the gate of the city of Rijeka, in the context of the rule of the Habsburgs

The lecture brought out certain circumstances of creating the portrait busts of Leopold I and Charles VI, the emperors of the Habsburg dynasty, .in the trapezoidal crown of the Sea Gates under the City Tower in Rijeka, which so far have not been taken into consideration. Several articles have been written on the Rijeka’s Sea Gate, its phases of construction and renovation, especially by Radmila Matejčić (1922.–1990.), who found out that Antonio Michelazzi (1707.–1772.) participated in the reconstruction of the Sea Gate in 1753. Describing the Sea Gate, Matejčić has observed that the emperors’ busts were created by the same unidentified sculptor, and that they could have been produced only on the occasion of Charles VI’s ascension to the throne – that is, shortly after 1711. Nevertheless, a closer look at the two busts reveals, however, that despite the traces of restorations which have to some extent altered their original appearance, these two sculptures show considerable differences in the sculptor’s understanding of form, in the details of their decorative elements, and in their typological features. It was argued with confidence that the bust of Leopold I is of an earlier date, made most probably after 1659 when the Emperor approved the city’s Coat of Arms, and it was suggested, with even greater certainty, that the bust of Charles VI was made in 1728, on the occasion of his official visit to Rijeka during his tour around the hereditary lands to receive homage.

Mirjana Repanić-Braun participated in the work of the international conference on sacralization of landscape in Zagreb

On June 2nd and 3rd, 2016 At the conference Sacralization of Landscape and Sacred Spaces organized by the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Zagreb , Mirjana Repanić-Braun gave a lecture on Sacralized The Spaces of Calvary Monuments.

From the medieval religious plays, through the Jesuit staging of Passion, until the present-day more or less expressive live presentations of the Way of the Cross, continuously and conveniently at Easter time Christ's journey to Calvary, one of the key events in the history of Christianity, has been evoked. However, while dramatic liturgical processions encourage emotional and spiritual catharsis leaving no permanent marks in the places of their happenings, the built, sculpturally equipped Calvaries or the entire building complexes erected from the end of the 15th century onwards, were meant to remain as the permanent signs of the sacralised space. Although the first Holy Mountain in Italy, Sacro Monte di Varallo (1491.) was established well before the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563), construction of Calvaries culminated during Counter-Reformation period and spread throughout the Catholic Europe enduring to the present day. With reference to the most significant examples of constructed Calvary hills in Austria, Germany and Slovenia, the discussed sacralisation of places on several examples of Croatian Calvaries made between 17th and 19th centuries.

International Workshop

As a project activity, the Zagreb Institute of Art History has hosted the international workshop «Between Venice, the Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburgs: The State and Religious Iconography and the Places of Its Dissemination during the Early Modern Period in the Historical Croatian Territories» on 2 and 3 June.

Programme (PDF)
Book of Abstracts (PDF)


Milan Pelc held a public lecture at the University of Maribor (Slovenia)

On May 12, 2016 project leader Milan Pelc  held at the University of Maribor  a lecture entitled  Johann Weichard Valvasor and Leopold I. The Emperor's Iconography and Its Reception on the Examples from the Valvasor Print Collection of Zagreb Archbishopric. The lecture  was organized by  the  France Stele Institute of Art History,  Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Ljubljana and the Department of Art History, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Maribor.

J. W.  Valvasor incorporated into his collection of prints a series of engraved portraits of Emperor Leopold I (ruled 1658‒1705), dating from the period between 1658 and 1685. The portraits reflect the reception of the Emperor's iconography with prevalent  meanings of information, representation and glorification. In this case the examples from the Valvasor Collection testify to the existence and interaction of main components of public communication in the early modern period: mass media (illustrated broadsheets, prints and illustrated brochures), the society of the spectacle, and the image-making strategy, which in the case of Emperor Leopold I contributes to his personality-cult. These examples serve as authentic testimony to visual communication in the service of showing the loyalty to the ruler. They exalt the ruler’s accomplishments for the Empire, especially emphasizing his achievements in the military and political sphere. Special significance is laid on the Emperor’s role in the war against the Ottomans, where he is represented as a great warrior and triumphant victor. On many images, Leopold I is presented as the "sun-emperor", as well as a source of happiness and prosperity for all of his subjects.


Ivana Prijatelj Pavičić participated at the conference about Andrea Schiavone in Venice

At the conference "Andrea Schiavone. Pittura, incisione, disegno nella Venezia del Cinquecento", organized by Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Ivana Prijatelj Pavičić, PhD, gave a lecture entitled "A Contribution to Understanding of Identity Constructs Regarding the Painter Schiavone in the Art Historiography and Art (Prints, Painting and Sculpture)" (Contributo alle costruzioni dell’identità del pittore Andrea Meldola/Meldolla/Andrija Medulić nella storiografia d’arte e nell’arte figurativa (cioè pittura, grafica e scultura).

The lecture was concentrated on the identity constructs of the painter Andrea Meldolla/Andrija Medulić Schiavone (c. 1515-1563) in Italian historiography from the time he lived in Venice until the 19th century. Prijatelj Pavičić presented the (pseudo) ethnic and other identity constructs regarding Schiavone, based on humanistic theories about the origin of the Venetians (Henetism), the Illyrians or Slavs, as represented in Florentine, Roman and Venetian historiography in the period from 16th to the 19th century.


Petra Batelja at International Colloquium in Paris

Doctoral student and project team member, Petra Batelja, M.A. participated at the International Colloquium “Virgins, Wives, Mothers. National Personifications in Early Modern Europe”, which was held from the 29th to 31st of March 2016 in Paris.

The colloquium was organized by the Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris (DHIP IHA). Petra Batelja gave a paper entitled „Beatissima Maria, Advocata Croatiae“ in which she presented the inscriptions PATRONA HUNGARIAE ET ILLYRICI from the image of Virgin Mary with Child at the Collegium Illyricum et Hungaricum in Bologna and PATRONA CROATIAE & HVNGARIAE from the altarpiece of Virgin Mary the Protectress at the Zagreb Cathedral. Considering the context in which they were made – especially their commissioners – the two artworks reflect specific political tendencies present among the Croatian elite at the end of the 17th century. The role of Virgin Mary as protectress can be interpreted as support for contemporary political aspirations for the equality of Croatian Kingdom with Kingdom of Hungary and its sovereignty in the early modern period.

Joško Belamarić held a lecture in Florence

In the Villa I Tatti - The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Joško Belamarić held on March 24 a lecture entitled The Interior of Split Cathedral (former mausoleum of Diocletian) during the Renaissance

After the middle of the 15th century, the rotunda of Split Cathedral, once the mausoleum of Diocletian, acquired the appearance of an ecclesiastical Globe Theatre. In the space in front of the high altar, through the transformation of the Romanesque choir stalls, a Gothic schola cantorum had been created in which the clerical and lay communities fought for places. In order to solve the problem of constriction, wooden structures were put up over several altars and above the cathedral’s southern door. On the first floor the sacristy, the cathedral treasury and the loggia in which the Venetian rector in the town sat were formed; on the second floor was an organ and a platform for singers, and over them stood a vast wood statue of the winged Venetian lion (today in the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris). Finally, still higher, around the whole of the church, on cornices of a double row of pillars, ran wooden galleries onto which the commons crowded.

Pursuant to the first reading of bishops’ visitations and some previously unpublished inventories of the cathedral, the author provides a surprising image of social and ideological spatial divisions within the building; he analyses the role of liturgical plays and music in giving shape to the interior; and includes an attempt to reconstruct the appearance of the church before radical purifying operations (started in the early 17th century) tending towards the revival of the authority of ancient architecture.

Milan Pelc and Daniel Premerl held lectures in Split

On 16 March, 2016 Milan Pelc held a lecture Personal Representation and “State” Symbolism in Liturgical Books of Zagreb Bishops around 1500, presenting to the Split audience the VACOP project and his research.

Zagreb bishops of the late 15th and early 16th centuries ensured that their diocese is provided with several representative liturgical books: breviaries, missals, and antiphonaries. Some of the books have been produced in the traditional form of codices with miniatures, while others have been printed and decorated with woodcut illustrations. In the analysis of the rich visual material of these books, the main focus was on the pictorial motifs used by particular bishops – patrons in their personal representation, as well as symbols in which religious iconography is intertwined with Hungarian royal symbolism. The interpretation of this iconography contributes to a better understanding of the historical identity of Zagreb Diocese in the Early Modern Period.

Daniel Premerl spoke on the topic of Ivan Tomko Mrnavić’s Coat of Arms. Apart from creating an influential literary oeuvre and performing confidential functions for the Holy See, Ivan Tomko Mrnavić (1580–1637) of Šibenik, the titular Bishop of Bosnia and Canon of Zagreb and Šibenik, systematically and successfully constructed and shaped his public identity. Thus he created his own coat of arms. At the lecture, Daniel Premerl presented and analysed the examples of Ivan Tomko Mrnavić’s coat of arms, which have been known so far. He interpreted its genesis, form, transformations and meaning.

February 2016

Milan Pelc held a public lecture with discussion on the intermingling of media at the turn of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period

On Thursday, 4 February 2016, at the conference hall of the University of Zagreb Rectorate, project leader Milan Pelc held a public lecture entitled Intermingling of Media and Triumph of Print Technologies at the Beginning of the Early Modern Period. Lecture with following discussion was organized by the Croatian Humboldt-Club.

In his lecture Milan Pelc analysed historical transition from the culture of handwritten books and handmade illustrations to the culture of printed books and mechanically multiplied images, which took place in the 15th century. By using examples from liturgical books with miniatures painted after engravings from the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th centuries, produced within the Diocese of Zagreb and commissioned by Zagreb bishops, Juraj of Topusko (Juraj of Steničnjak) and Luka de Szeged, Milan Pelc presented the change in the communication paradigm, which initially evolved through intermingling and later through progressive transition from manual to mechanical production of books and images. The contribution of patrons and commissioners of art in Northern Croatia to this change is significant, although rather internationally not acknowledged.