Social Narratives For Noble Art Collecting (Spain, 1750-1850)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: Booth 57
Oral Presentation
Antonio URQUÍZAR HERRERA , Historia del Arte, Open University UNED, Madrid, Spain
The main purpose of this paper is to study the role that collections of art works and other artifacts played in the definition and exhibition of social discourses of legitimacy and differentiation of the estates. Since noble collections embodied social theory and social legitimacy, old noble houses transformed their artistic policies in the transition between Early Modern and Modern and Contemporary Europe, as a response to the competition environment due to the new nobility and other groups climbing the social ladder. Also these old noble houses had to answer the coincidence with the institutionalization of the new artistic system represented by academies and museums. All these elements promoted the rearrangement of old collections and the display of new social narratives for their public interpretation.

This aim is intended to be pursued through the analysis of the ideological narratives on collecting deployed by Spanish ancient nobility, 1750-1850, focusing on the houses of Osuna, Alba and Medinaceli, among other families. These old noble houses had been displaying social narratives through collected objects since 16th century. Portraits, religious and historical paintings, a few masterpieces with acknowledged aesthetic value, weapons and many other different items had been collected, organized and narrated through the ideas of lineage and differentiation of social groups and estates. The analyses of the reorganization of these collections and their new discourses at the end of the Ancient Régime could offer valuable information about the social profile of these objects and their use as means of social structuration.