Japanese Flask with Portuguese Merchant John Tradescant the Younger with Roger Friend Dutch Merchant with Cockerel

Early Modern Merchants as Collectors

A conference held at the Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, UK

Friday and Saturday, 15 and 16 June 2012


In 1615, Vincenzo Scamozzi highlighted the importance in Venice of the merchant-collectors Bartolomeo dalla Nave and Daniel Nijs by including descriptions of their collections in his L’Idea della architettura universale.  Scholarship has also moved beyond the consideration of the artist and the patron as the principal protagonists in the history of collecting.  As a result, merchants are now being regarded by historians as influential collectors in their own right.

With the 1985 publication of The Origin of Museums, a collection of conference papers edited by Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor, the Ashmolean Museum became established as a leading institution for research in the history of collecting.  Recently re-opened with innovative galleries displaying objects exploring the theme ‘Crossing Cultures Crossing Time’, the new Ashmolean afforded an opportunity to re-visit the 1985 conference topic and not only to update but also to expand it into this fresh area of research and debate.  This interdisciplinary conference explored early modern merchants as collectors across a wide range of geographical regions and collecting categories, investigating whether there are any patterns connecting these merchant-collectors of the early modern period and what theoretical frameworks can be applied to them.

Forthcoming Publication

The conference papers are currently being edited for publication by the conference organiser, Dr. Christina M. Anderson, Honorary Research Fellow at the Ashmolean Museum. Please do check this website for further details of the publication as they emerge.


Abstracts of the papers to be included in the forthcoming publication are available here.


Any questions or comments should be directed to Dr. Anderson at christina.anderson@ashmus.ox.ac.uk.


Sponsored by:

Society for Renaissance Studies Logo

The Society for Renaissance Studies


Ashmolean Museum Logo


The Ashmolean Museum


Anderson Art Research


Anderson Art Research


MEHRC logo


Modern European History Research Centre