Memorials for Merchants: The Funerary Culture of Late Medieval Europe's New Elite. CAA Chicago, February 2014

full name / name of organization: 
Emily Kelley and Vanessa Crosby

During the late Middle Ages, the rise of urban centers and long-distance trade brought the emergence of wealthy mercantile elites who spent lavishly on funerary monuments. In contrast to royal and aristocratic tombs, these monuments have received comparatively little attention from scholars outside the Italian context. In order to reach a more thorough understanding of this increasingly influential strata of late medieval society, this session seeks papers exploring the role mercantile mentalities and practices played in shaping artistic patronage and reception of tombs. How did merchants construct memory and identity through the medium of the tomb? What role did fraternities and trade networks play in shaping iconographic choices? In what ways did their access to foreign art markets position merchants as conduits for new artistic forms and media? How were existing aristocratic and royal traditions of funerary art appropriated and adapted to meet the needs of the merchant class?

Please submit a 1-2 page (double-spaced) abstract with paper title by May 6, 2013. Abstracts should be emailed to Vanessa Crosby and Emily Kelley. Email: and

Abstracts should be accompanied by a CV (indicate summer contact information if applicable) and a letter indicating speaker's interest in and expertise in the topic. Please also include CAA membership status and member number if applicable.