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My Research

The image of Sovereignty: The Self-Celebration of the Ruling Class in Seventeenth-Century Venice

Supervisor: Dr Lorenzo Pericolo

Summary of proposed research:

Scholars have dealt at great length with the different configurations of the idea of sovereignty (and its analogues, monarchy and empire) in early modern Europe. Essentially, they have been concerned with delineating a historical perspective in which images play only a subsidiary role by serving as comparative material for general issues. More specifically, scholars of Venetian history have overlooked the problematic question of how the Venetian ruling class from the second half of the sixteenth century onwards came to adopt an absolutist concept of sovereignty from the second half of the sixteenth century onwards, adjusting it to a traditional notion of republic and transforming it into political imagery. Conversely, on the side of art history, the production of images promoted by the Venetian Republic in the late Renaissance has been analyzed mainly through a formalistic and iconographic approach, without a careful evaluation of the political identity of the ruling class and the form of government endorsed by its members.

Relying on an interdisciplinary approach, this research aims to offer a novel and more accurate understanding of the ways in which the Venetian ruling class, by processing the early modern concept of sovereignty as developed by political theorists of politics and philosophers, turned it into an ideology that resulted in a self-celebratory imagery. By following the development of the politico-philosophical idea of sovereignty as interpreted by the Venetian ruling class in the late Renaissance and in the early seventeenth-century, I intend to assess and examine its impact on the production of images celebrating the Republic of Venice and its rulers.