Visual Arts and Communication of Power

A research project by the Institute of Art History

Visual Arts and Communication of Power in the Early Modern Period (1450–1800): Historical Croatian Regions at the Crossroads of Central Europe and the Mediterranean

This research will primarily focus on the analysis and interpretation of the relation of power holders toward the visual arts in Croatian regions of the Early Modern Period, as well as the places and the media of their transmission. In the spirit of new art history, the research will seek to answer the following questions:

  1. Which media channels – including communication means and strategies – did certain centres of power use to create and promote favourable responses among different types of recipients in Croatia of the early modern period?
  2. What was the role of visual art in shaping public opinion and the social promotion and re(presentation) of power holders?

The power holders in Croatian regions who acted as art commissioners were primarily from the ranks of the aris­tocracy (both secular and ecclesiastical) – representatives of the state ideologies of the Venetian Republic, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Dubrovnik Republic. In addition to them, there were also local corporate patrons and art commissioners – confraternities – which mainly reflected the interests of local communities. Those art commissioning channels made possible cultural transfers in visual arts and architecture in the Croatian territory during the period from the early Renaissance to the late Baroque.

The research will facilitate the creation of a database containing relevant visual records of the aforementioned historical period, which will enable a comparative analysis of the phenomenon from the perspective of the sociology of culture, critical iconology and semiotics. Finally, this will result in the development of an appropriate model for the interpretation of a specific usage of visual arts as a mediator in the communication of power in Croatia of 1450–1800.

Project team

Project leader

Dr. sc. Milan Pelc
Research advisor, Head of the Institute of Art History, Zagreb


Dr. sc. Josip Belamarić
Research advisor at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb, Head of the Cvito Fisković Center in Split

Dr. sc. Višnja Bralić
Research advisor at the Croatian Conservation Institute in Zagreb

Dr. sc. Daniel Premerl
Research Associate at the Institute of Art History in Zagreb

Dr. sc. Ivana Prijatelj Pavičić, red. prof.
Tenured professor at the Department of Art History, Faculty of Philosophy in Split

Dr. sc. Mirjana Repanić Braun
Research advisor at the Institute of Art History, Zagreb

Petra Batelja
Doctoral student

Maja Žvorc
Doctoral student