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Grant number like: FT-269909-20

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Monica Dominguez Torres
University of Delaware (Newark, DE 19716-0099)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2021 – 7/31/2021

Pearls for the Crown: European Courtly Art and the Atlantic Pearl Trade, 1498-1728

Research and writing for a book on the history and influence of the Atlantic pearl industry on 15th-18th-century European art.

At times called the “Pearl Age,” the early modern period saw a sharp increase in the number of pearls that were fished, traded, and consumed around the globe. The discovery of rich pearling beds in the Americas, in particular, prompted the emergence in Europe of exquisite artworks featuring pearls and pearl-fishing scenes. Yet, such pieces have often been regarded as innocuous luxury items of interest only to art connoisseurs. "Pearls for the Crown" focuses on five under-studied artworks hailing from the Atlantic pearl industry in order to unveil the messages they conveyed within their geo-political contexts. Specifically, it looks at the discourses they articulated about imperial expansion and human mastery over nature, notions of great importance in courtly circles linked to the Spanish Crown. Such notions, moreover, helped legitimize the indiscriminate exploitation of natural and human resources that eventually laid out the foundations for the Anthropocene.