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Western and non-western cultural exchange

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(Dr Rosalind Polly Blakesley, Dr Donal Cooper, Prof Deborah Howard, Prof Jean Michel Massing; Dr Unver Rustem (2015-16))

(i) African Art and Europe
Professor Jean Michel Massing is completing the 16th- and 17th-century volumes of The Image of the Black in Western Art. Originally sponsored by the Mesnil Foundation and until recently employing up to three people at a private research centre in Paris, this project is now based at Harvard University. Massing was also guest curator of the exhibition, Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Washington and Brussels 2007), which investigates the interchange of ideas and imagery along Portuguese trade-routes. He was co-organiser of the conference on Slavery in Renaissance Art at the Warburg Institute in November 2007.

(ii) Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean
Following the publication of her book on Venice & the East in 2000, Professor Deborah Howard continues to explore aspects of the cultural exchange between Italy and the Middle East. She contributed to the catalogues of two exhibitions on this topic: Bellini and the East (Boston and London, 2005-6) and Venice and the Islamic World(Paris, New York and Venice, 2006-7). 

In 2006-9 Dr Christiane Esche-Ramshorn (Research Associate) and Professor Deborah Howard received funding jointly from the Cambridge University Isaac Newton Trust and the AHRC for a three-year project entitled Sharing St. Peter’s in the Renaissance. East and West at the Vatican. The project analyzed the artistic relationship between Renaissance Italy and two ‘marginal’ nations (Armenia and Ethiopia) in terms of artistic and cultural exchange in both directions, without taking an Eurocentric view.

(iii) Russian art and the West
The research interests of Dr Rosalind Polly Blakesley are currently focused on the investigation of cultural exchange between Western Europe and Russia. She was the co-editor of Russian art and the West (2007), and has been awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship from 2009-10 to write a new book which will examine the seminal period of Russian cultural history from the foundation of a Russian Academy of Arts in 1757 to the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. The project will consider in particular the extent to which Russia's painters evolved from untrained individuals in awe of their Western counterparts, to proud professionals claiming their place on the international stage. Some of Dr Blakesley's doctoral students are examining aspects of Russian-Western dialogue in the later period of 1880-1925. Together with Dr Blakesley's research, their work aims to illuminate the richness and complexity of Russia's cultural relationship with the West during and in the immediate aftermath of Imperial rule.