Based on wide-ranging sources, the project studies artistic training in pre-modern Central Europe. Up to the end of the Holy Roman Empire, the study area experienced various sizes with changing borders and different linguistic areas and jurisdictions. The project explores these aspects, referring to current research on culture-historical geography. Moreover, it will examine and, in some cases, revise the one-sided negative image of the guilds, using the example of research into historical networks and components of the dynamism of personal associations developed by neighbouring disciplines: Guild structure is viewed at times as an all-embracing, tightly knit network that permitted artists to exchange ideas and move freely and establish art markets.
The cross-border research approach thus complements for the first time the historical idea of the artist as a model in social history. Up to about 1800, the artist was part of the hierarchical European society; except for the court artist, he was an artisan bound to the guilds. Numerous attempts to institutionalise artistic training and transfer it to academies succeeded only when the guilds were dissolved under Napoleon. An edition of all German-language guild and artisan regulations in Central Europe will make a hitherto little noted source type of major relevance accessible to research. One aim is to assemble a critical corpus of historical sources structured according to cities, a second, to analyse the social historical contexts, among them, synergy effects of “artistic knowledge” and training practices, the artist’s social and territorial mobility and the gender-specific inclusions and exclusions in pre-modern workshop operations. In terms of globalisation, the project can overcome topographical, methodological and content-related borders in all directions and lay the foundation for a comprehensive analysis of all of European artistic training.
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