Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture
‘Pinturas Infinitas para América.’ A Data-Driven History of the Market for Paintings in Seville (1500-1700)

Increasing attention has been paid over the past years to the study of European art markets from a combined humanistic and social science perspective. Despite the ongoing scholarly revaluation of Spanish art, such an integrated approach is lacking for markets for paintings in Spanish cities. This is particularly important for the case of Seville, as it fulfilled the necessary prerequisites to support a sophisticated art trade and held a key commercial role as port to the Indies. In this project, I study the development of art market structures in Seville from 1500 to 1700 through a novel approach to archival evidence. I am creating the first relational database of Sevillian art, a resource that will centralize the abundant, yet disperse information in various Sevillian archives by combining the digitization and text mining of published archival sources with original archival research. I am applying to the Mellon IDRF Fellowship to support nine months of archival investigation in Seville and Simancas, Spain as well as three months of collections research in Lima and Mexico City. This research will yield vital information on painting exports, complement deficiencies in the published corpus and provide necessary examples of Sevillian paintings made for the American viceroyalties. I will query the resulting data to respond to questions about the economic and cultural behavior of the players in a complex, multicultural environment such as Seville. The Sevillian art market represents an understudied facet of early modern material culture with cultural impact on both sides of the Atlantic. This project is as much an experiment in method as it is an exercise in history writing, developing an innovative approach to historical data gathering through natural language processing and relational database structures and delivering a quantifiable case study of an early modern industry spanning two centuries.