Zoë Willis: Of Saints and Empire

The following paper will be delivered as part of Questioning Geographies and Temporalities: Postcolonizing Medieval Art on February 12th, at the College Art Association’s 98th Annual Conference in Chicago.


Of Saints and Empire: Venice, Hungary, and Dalmatian Zadar,

1350–1450

Zoë Willis, University of Warwick

The wealthy commune Zadar in modern Croatia was the subject of both Venetian and Hungarian imperial ambitions during the late medieval period. The city’s Adriatic location lies on a geographical and cultural intersection between East and West, Balkan and Latin, which shaped the city’s history and continues to inform how it is studied today. As a result its rich artistic heritage invites a methodological discussion on the feasibility of applying postcolonial frameworks to such premodern societies. This paper examines the fine examples of metalwork associated with Zadar’s patron saints, Chrysogonus and Simeon the Prophet. Although charged political symbols of their day, they still hold a continuing relevance as sites of nuanced intercultural dialogue and dispute that have implications for international research on Dalmatia today.