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A Taste for the Exotic: The Moretto Veneziano in the Early Modern Period

Sat, March 24, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Hilton Riverside, 1st Level - Grand Salon Breakout 13

Abstract

This paper examines a popular and intriguing motif in Venetian Jewelry: il Moretto, the head of a black man. Since the Middle Ages it is one of the most emblematic ornaments of the eastern Mediterranean goldsmith tradition and a well-known feature of Venetian Art. Although this ornament has been acknowledged in modern scholarship as central to Venetian artistic tradition, it has never been studied in any detail. Some of the objects that will be presented here have never been published. This talk examines il Moretto from a sociological perspective while tracing its multicultural characteristics. The Moretto Veneziano represents a taste for the exotic and has a role in the growth of orientalism as it developed in centers beyond Italy as Munich, London, and Amsterdam.

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