Visualizing Nationhood: the Schiavoni/Illyrian Confraternities and Colleges in Italy and the Artistic Exchange with South East Europe (15th – 18th c.)

Project Visualizing Nationhood: the Schiavoni/Illyrian Confraternities and Colleges in Italy and the Artistic Exchange with South East Europe (15th – 18th c.), funded by the Croatian Science Foundation (Hrvatska zaklada za znanost, HRZZ)

Project duration: 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2018

The first known organized groups of people originating from historic Croatian lands sharing a common language and Catholic faith are mentioned in Italy from the 15th century. They congregated in the “Schiavoni/Illyrian” confraternities in Rome, Venice, Recanati, Fano, Loreto and Udine, while institutionalized assistance for students of the same origin attending Italian universities during the Early Modern period was provided by the “national” colleges in Bologna, Loreto, Fermo and by a short-lived one in San Giovanni Rotondo, Gargano.

The architecture of buildings used by these institutions, as well as paintings and sculpture and other works of art commissioned by their members, played an important role in the construction of the cultural identity of these immigrant communities, unable to identify themselves with a particular centre or a political subject on the map of Early Modern Europe.

The aim of the project is to investigate the construction of intrinsic cultural identities that found their expression in the art and architecture of Schiavoni/Illyrian institutions from 15th to 18th centuries, through the exploration of historical narratives articulated in terms of visual arts. These art-historical phenomena are to be regarded in comparative perspective as well as in context of similar expressions found in “national” institutions of other foreign communities in Italy.

The research will concentrate on the artistic heritage of particular Schiavoni/Illyrian communities in different Italian artistic centres: confraternities in Rome, Venice, Ancona, Recanati, Loreto, Macerata, Camerano, Pesaro, Fano, Genoa, Udine, and colleges in Bologna, Loreto and Fermo.

In addition to in-depth art-historical analysis of the surviving and/or documented art and architecture of the said national institutions in Italy, special attention will be placed on the dynamics of artistic commissions, along with the issue of confraternity members or college alumni as possible mediators in Croatian patrons’ commissions from Italian artists. This research will provide a new insight on the circulation of taste and knowledge as well as on the impact of different Italian art markets on the art in the South-East Europe, particularly in the present-day Croatia, enriching the understanding of the role of artistic heritage in the construction of proto-national identity in the European context.

Principal investigator:

Jasenka Gudelj (University of Zagreb)


  • Giuseppe Capriotti (University of Macerata)
  • Francesca Coltrinari (University of Macerata)
  • Daniel Premerl (Institute for Art History, Zagreb)
  • Danko Šourek (University of Zagreb)
  • Tanja Trška (University of Zagreb)
  • Anita Ruso (PhD candidate EPHE/University of Zagreb)


  • Michele Angelaccio (University Tor Vergata, Rome)
  • Bernard Aikema (University of Verona)
  • Sabine Frommel (EPHE, Paris)
  • Susanne Kubersky-Piredda (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome)


ažurirano: 6 Lipanj, 2016