Drawn to Law: Legal Drawings in Early Modern Italy in an Age of Empire

Linda Müller, M.A.

Positioned at the junction of transregional art history, legal history, and the history of empires, my dissertation project examines artistic and notarial drawings and pictographs found in legal and juridical documents in early modern Italy and the polycentric Spanish Empire, including Spain’s colonial settlements in the Americas. The project investigates the micropolitics of these visuals and their impact on decision-making processes and identity formation among civic, financial, political, ecclesiastical, and governmental bodies and communities. Refining art history’s relationship with the early modern notarial studio and archive, and spaces of jurisprudence, such as courts and tribunals, which are understood in my project as designated sites for the commissioning, creation, archiving, interpretation, and commentary on drawings and pictographs, the thesis sheds light on the impact that the use of visuals in the legal systems of Spain and colonial New Spain had on the intellectual ecologies and visual-legal cultures in Italy and vice versa.

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