The peregrinations of porcelain: The collections of Duchess Eleonora d’Aragona of Ferrara

Clark, Leah R. (2019). The peregrinations of porcelain: The collections of Duchess Eleonora d’Aragona of Ferrara. Journal of the History of Collections (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhy063

Abstract

The Medici of Florence have long been acknowledged as possessing the largest collection of Chinese porcelain in the fifteenth century, but this article reveals that in fact Eleonora d’Aragona, Duchess of Ferrara had the largest such collection in Italy at this time. In fifteenth-century Europe, porcelain came not directly from China but rather through trade and diplomacy with foreign courts, so that its peregrinations gave rise to entangled histories and reception. Taking porcelain as a case-study, it is argued here that examining collecting through the lens of trade and diplomacy provides new interpretations of – and demands new approaches to – the history of collecting.

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