When scholars of the early modern period started to focus on (princely) collections in the 1980s, they often concentrated on Italy as the epicentre of cultural development and progress. The courts of Florence, Rome, Urbino or Ferrara were regarded as hubs of collecting, while the rest of Europe either seemed not to care very much (England and Spain) or was too poor and uncivilised (large parts of Germany and Eastern Europe) to follow the Italian example. Even though recent studies have started to investigate collections built and displayed in the peripheries, much of the research conducted these days still underwrites a supposed Italian supremacy. Nonetheless, we know that even a place such as Florence picked up fashions in collecting, in palace building and in interior architecture from other courts north and south of the Alps as well as from the East and West. A main issue to be investigated is, therefore, that of hubs and peripheries and whether any such division has ever been as clear-cut as has long been assumed.
Another issue is the question of models and trendsetters. In particular, the multi-cultural Holy Roman Empire, bringing together traditions from Burgundy, Spain and from the Austrian Habsburg territories among others, offers a multitude of collections, examples of multinational collectibles, as well as some of the earliest theoretical writings on the subject. Nevertheless, when collections from the empire are discussed, as happens more often now, they are usually compared to other examples from the North of Europe or seen as second-rate followers of the fashions at Italian courts.
Rather than continuing a traditional view of Europe separated into cultural donors and receivers, we expect to renegotiate long-standing certainties. Therefore, we invite proposals of 150 words that focus on clusters or networks of exchange, favour a multinational, multiconfessional and multidisciplinary approach to the rise and development of early modern collections and seek to establish new ways of defining models and trendsetters, as well as centres and peripheries. If you wish to contribute to the discussion, please send your abstracts and CVs (in accordance with the guidelines set out at http://www.rsa.org/page/2017Chicago) to email@example.com on or before 28 May 2016.