Translation in Diplomacy and the Media within the Context of the Pre-Modern Peace Process: Europe 1450–1789

A joint project of the Mainz Institut für Europäische Geschichte, the Augsburg Institut für Europäische Kulturgeschichte and the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Why did the early modern dynastic governments of Europe usually fail to achieve long-term peace, despite their intensive efforts to that end? The joint project’s underlying postulate is: one reason why it did not prove possible to attain and ensure peace in Europe on a long-term basis in the period between 1450 and 1789 was the translation deficit, along with the failure to bridge the many cultural and communicative differences. The aim of the project is therefore to combine the perspectives of European history, international law, art scholarship and cultural studies to carry out an in-depth investigation of this phenomenon of intensive and expensive peace efforts undertaken while at the very same time the same parties were conducting likewise costly wars.

The Stuttgart Sub-Project

Project head: PD Dr. Hans-Martin Kaulbach
Research Fellow: Dr. Cornelia Manegold

Translation in Art: Images of Peace and Peace Treaties

The Stuttgart sub-project inquires into the active role played by the visual arts in early modern diplomacy, in journalism on the peace process, and in political representation. The chief questions here are: How was peace visualized in a manner transcending political and linguistic boundaries? What pictorial media were integral elements of diplomatic praxis?

The Swearing of the Oath of Ratification of the Hispano-Dutch Peace Treaty in the Town Hall of Münster on 15 May 1648

Jonas Suyderhoef (ca. 1613–before 1686) after Gerard ter Borch (1617–1681)
“The Swearing of the Oath of Ratification of the Hispano-Dutch Peace Treaty in the Town Hall of Münster on 15 May 1648”, 1648, engraving, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Graphische Sammlung, Inv.No. A 1996/6710 (KK)
 

Artists who – like Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1642) – combined their diplomatic skills with artistic work enjoyed reputations as important mediators of peace. At peace conferences, painters like Anselmus van Hulle (1661–after 1674), Gerard ter Borch (1617–1681) and Joachim von Sandrart (1606–1688) were commissioned with portraits of diplomats which found wide circulations as portrait engravings. Beginning with the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, illustrated broad-sheets appeared in great numbers, on the one hand pictorially documenting diplomacy while on the other hand translating peace into the art form of allegory. Printmaking proved to be an extremely important medium which steered the public perception of international peace settlements not only by reproducing acts of diplomacy, but also by staging such acts. In this function it was joined by allegories of peace in painting and sculpture, on coins and medals. Research into the history of the reception of these artistic testimonies has investigated the relationship between imagery and the various major peace congresses, usually in conjunction with anniversary exhibitions. However, a systematic study and presentation of the pictorial culture of peace in its entirety has yet to be undertaken.

The Stuttgart sub-project focuses on the reproduction of peace imagery in the media and its application to new contexts. In other words, the concern is with migrating images – a personification such as Pax, a symbolic gesture like the “Kiss of Peace” or the “Oath”, a motif of action like “Swords Into Plowshares”, or a symbol such as the olive branch or caduceus –, what transformations it underwent, and how its meaning changed in the process. In this context, similarities and differences in composition, in the choice of medium, and in the method of depiction will also be investigated. Within the framework of the BMBF (“Federal Ministry of Education and Research”) funding initiative “Übersetzungsfunktion der Geisteswissenschaften” (“Translation function of the humanities”), the project will endeavour to show how artists served as translators, and how artistic imagery widened the scope of the communication process.

An image archive founded by Hans-Martin Kaulbach and comprising the various museum collections will expand the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart’s holdings. The aim of the Stuttgart sub-project is to make peace-related imagery accessible for comparative analysis. Not only will these efforts lead to the presentation of the results of research in the form of a print publication; at the same time, valuable tools for further research will be placed at the disposal of scholars interested in diplomacy and peace-related images.

The Staatsgalerie Stuttgart will make a wide spectrum of peace imagery available on the researchable pages of its digital catalogue. Works from the abundant collection holdings will be accessible by way of “einfache Suche” (“simple search”) and the entry of the keyword “pax”. This processing of the Staatsgalerie’s holdings will establish the nucleus of a new digital corpus of peace-related imagery.

The results will be presented in an exhibition of selected works from the collection of the Staatsgalerie’s Department of Prints, Drawings & Photographs as a means of making the topic of peace and peace diplomacy visible to the broad public.


Contact

PD Dr. Hans-Martin Kaulbach
Tel.: +49 (0)711/470 40 303
m.kaulbach@staatsgalerie.de

Dr. Cornelia Manegold
Tel.: +49(0)711/470 40 309
E-Mail: c.manegold@staatsgalerie.de

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Postfach 10 43 42
D – 70038 Stuttgart

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