Linda Müller – More Than Visual Threads of Decision Making: Pictorial Images and Courtroom Practices in Spanish Milan and Colonial Mexico City (ca. 1600)

In the early modern period, much like artistic practices, techniques, and material knowledge, legal and notarial practices, juridical knowledge, and the material techniques and visual literacies of legal practitioners were shaped by both local factors and, with the multiplication of contacts between cultures in the global arena, peaceful and otherwise, by global forces. When examining the polycentric Spanish Empire, art historians of colonial Latin America and Europe have begun delving into the material and visual manifestations of law and the role objects played in the respective legal spheres. However, these inquiries have often remained separate. In contrast, the field of global legal history has long focused on how indigenous and colonial systems of law clashed, were negotiated, and assimilated, particularly within cross-regional empires, and the repercussions for various regions involved. This prompts two imperatives for future investigations into the visual and material manifestations of law in a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary manner. First, establishing connections between global legal history and transregional art history; second, adopting a dual perspective that transcends the unidirectional exploration of European law’s impact on Latin American visual and legal cultures.

Focusing on the impact that the experiences of mobile legal actors and other mediators from New Spain’s colonial administration and bureaucracy had on the changing intellectual ecologies in early modern continental Europe, its legal practices, and visual cultures, Linda’s paper examines selected artistic and notarial drawings and pictographs present in legal and juridical documents from Spain’s Italian territories and its colonial settlements in the Americas. Acknowledging the commonalities and differences in historical conditions and contexts between these jurisdictions, she explores the micropolitics of these visuals and their roles in shaping legal decision-making processes in courtroom settings. When put into dialogue, what valuable insights do these visuals offer into the sensory realm of the plural legal worlds at the edges of the Empire? Which reciprocal dynamics can be observed, and what do they reveal about the status and contestation of pictorial images and writing within these legal spheres around 1600?

Linda is a PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. She specializes in the art, architecture, visual, and material cultures of early modern Europe and the Atlantic world, with a special focus on exchanges between Italy, the Spanish Empire, and the Americas. Sitting at the intersection of art history, legal history, and the history of empires, her work engages with visual legal cultures, the role of paintings and drawings within colonial and institutional mediascapes, and the visual worlds, material techniques, and visual literacies of notaries and legal practitioners. She is currently a doctoral fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, where she is affiliated with the research group “Italy in a Global Context.” Her research has previously been supported by the Newberry Library, Villa I Tatti, and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation’s History of Art Institutional Fellowship at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz. A former fellow of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation’s transatlantic ERP Scholarship Program, complementing her academic training, Linda has worked for various collections of European Renaissance and Baroque art, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée du Louvre, the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the Old Masters Picture Gallery in Dresden, and the Harvard Art Museums. She holds a B.A. in art history from Tuebingen and M.A.s in the same field from Utrecht and Harvard Universities.

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Academies Editorial Board (2024, 29. Februar). Linda Müller – More Than Visual Threads of Decision Making: Pictorial Images and Courtroom Practices in Spanish Milan and Colonial Mexico City (ca. 1600). TRANSREGIONAL ACADEMIES. Abgerufen am 15. Juni 2024, von

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