Connected Central European Worlds, 1500-1700

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Multisensory Perspectives on Central European Ceramics

Zuzanna Sarnecka, University of Warsaw

The inquiries into the agency of artworks, sensory experience and craftsmanship draw attention of art historians to previously little-studied artefacts, such as tin-glazed objects produced since the sixteenth century in various parts of Central Europe. The shift away from questions of attribution challenges the arbitrary choices made by international institutions to promote art of clearly identifiable individuals or artistic geniuses. The multisensory perspective levels the field and diverts the narrative from an idealized or supposedly universal aesthetic. It allows to redefine artistic output of specific communities and to highlight collaborative modes of production in Early Modern ceramic workshops. The proposed paper will discuss sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century ceramics produced in Moravia from the multisensory perspective. The focus on the quality of the glazes, ecology of production and non-canonical artefacts will underline the specificity of the historic local art scene, or the visual culture to which these objects belong. The aim is to challenge previous master narratives that remain nationalistic and hugely ideological.


Zuzanna Sarnecka is Lecturer at the Instytut Historii Sztuki at the University of Warsaw. Her first monograph is entitled, The Allure of Glazed Terracotta in Renaissance Italy and published with Brepols in 2022. Since 2014 she was a co-investigator in the project funded by the National Science Centre titled: The Agency of Things New Perspectives on European Art of the Fourteenth–Sixteenth Centuries. She is an active member of the ICOM and the Renaissance Society of America. In 2017 she was awarded the START Grant by the Foundation for Polish Science. She has recently been awarded a three-year research grant (2019-2021) by the National Science Centre, Poland (OPUS 15 scheme) to lead a project on the devotional terracotta sculpture in the Papal States 1450-1550.