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Goldberg Lecture: Jeffrey Collins April 13, 4:10pm

Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Lecture in Art History


Jeffrey Collins
Bard Graduate Center



Ship Shape: Incense Boats across the Early Modern Globe
Thursday, April 13th, 2017 4:10pm

203 Cohen Memorial Hall
Reception to Follow Lecture


Beginning in the late fifteenth century, the spread of European merchants and missionaries in pursuit of new territory was accompanied an unprecedented tide of Western material culture, including objects and implements associated with Catholic Christianity. Among the most striking was the silver incense boat or navicula, typically crafted of silver and closely modeled on the ocean-going ships that brought them and their first owners and users to locations across the globe. Encoding movement and exchange in their very form, and housing fragrant resins that were both a tool of evangelization an international commodity, naviculae embody the spread of commerce and Christianity and suggest important links between the two. This lecture investigates the development and worldwide dispersal of this distinctive ship-shaped form during the heyday of exploration and colonization, including its links to secular table vessels known as nefs. Just as important, more detailed study of specific examples from the Americas, Africa, and Asia suggests how seemingly ubiquitous and globalized objects may nonetheless have carried distinct and specific local meanings for the individuals and communities that made, used, or viewed them.