The Merchants of Lucca: Art, Patronage and Luxury, 1300-1500
Dr Geoffrey Nuttall
Summer School – Online
Monday 14 – Friday 18 June 2021
For over 200 years, merchants from the small Tuscan city of Lucca dominated the production and sale of sumptuous silks and phenomenally expensive gold and silver brocades throughout western Europe. These clothed the palaces, churches and persons of its secular and ecclesiastical elites, and can still be admired in innumerable paintings and manuscript illuminations, perhaps most famously in the Wilton Diptych in London’s National Gallery. Exceptionally wealthy, well-informed and cosmopolitan patrons, they commissioned some of the most famous yet enigmatic masterpieces of the early Renaissance, including Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait, Jacopo della Quercia’s Tomb of Ilaria del Carretto, and The Boucicaut Master’s Trenta Missal.
This course focuses on these and other great works executed north and south of the Alps by the merchants of Lucca, in Paris, London, Bruges, Avignon, Venice and elsewhere. It explores the processes involved in the design, manufacture and purveying of the luxury silks, and the Lucchese’s influential role as agents of artistic and cultural exchange during the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance.