The essays cover a broad scope of issues relating to individual identity strategies and art collecting in the late modern era, encompassing the history of museums, exhibition policy, art market history, history of taste shaping and provenance research. They create a comparative pan-European perspective of the collecting phenomenon in its various facets. The detailed analysis of the individual cases shows how collecting mirrored the social problems of the late modern era. The book adresses issues such as the socio-cultural role of ethnic minorities, the question of women's emancipation, social exclusion versus inclusion, colonialism or the politicisation of museums. When analysed in the context of private collections, these issues gain clarity and simultaneously demonstrate the complexity of cultural processes, which are still not sufficiently recognised.
“Courtly Gifts and Cultural Diplomacy” explores the history of British-Russian state relations from the perspective of art and material culture. This richly illustrated book presents manifold practices of courtly gift-giving and vivid case studies of British-Russian artistic diplomacy over the centuries. It traces a visual and material history of cross-cultural dialogue that starts with an early English map of Russia made in the 16th century and ends with gifts of Fabergé art objects and domestic photographs exchanged between the British royal family and the family of Tsar Nicholas II in late Imperial Russia. Twelve expert authors from academia, the arts, and the museum sectors in Britain, Russia, and the United States present new narratives and critical interpretations based on material from previously unexplored archives. Their diverse approaches reveal the importance of artistic diplomacy and the agency of gifts of art and material culture in courtly and state relations.