• The University of Western Australia (M433), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Arvi Wattel received his education from the Radboud University Nijmegen and is a lecturer in the History of Art at UWA (School of Design). Before moving to Perth, he was awarded grants from the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund and Dr Hendrik Muller's Vaderlandsch Fonds, was a visiting fellow at the Department of the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University, held fellowships at the Fondazione Ermitage in Ferrara, the Kunsthistorisches Institut (Max Planck Gesellschaft) in Florence, the Dutch Institute for Art History in Florence and the Royal Netherlandish Institute in Rome. Previously, he lectured at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the University of Maastricht and for Oberlin College in Arezzo.


Roles and responsibilities


My research focuses on questions of centre and periphery, marginalization and alterity in Renaissance Italy and a global perspective, particularly in Dutch seventeenth-century encounters with Australia and Asia.


Current projects

City and Court in Renaissance Ferrara

This project focuses on questions of (local) identity in the ‘periphery’ of the Northern Italian courts in the Renaissance, in particular in the city of Ferrara during the reign of Alfonso I d’Este (1505-1534). In the past, scholars have neglected the study of Ferrarese patrician patronage, either because it did not concern the commonly recognised centres such as Florence, Rome, and Venice, or the dominant culture of the courts. Artists who neither worked in these traditional centres nor for princely patrons suffered a similar fate. This project aims to show that Ferrarese artists and (patrician) patrons maintained a distinctly local identity in competition with models of cultural authority and vis-à-vis a dominant courtly culture. It mainly focuses on Antonio Costabili, the city’s chief magistrate, and Garofalo, the most prolific artist of the city, whose art was in high demand with the local elite. The crisis caused by the War of the League of Cambrai in combination with Costabili’s cultural politics resulted in a visual urban culture distinctly different from the court, shaped by Garofalo's highly innovative and repetitive style. 


Visualising Batavia Silverware: Imaging and Analysing VOC's Precious Metal Trade Objects for Mughal India

The WA Museum holds a unique collection of seventeenth-century Amsterdam silverware. These relatively unknown silver objects were recovered from the Dutch East Indiaman Batavia that was shipwrecked on the Houtman Albrolhos in June 1629. Batavia’s commander Francisco Pelsaert had previously spent seven years as a VOC official in India and advised the Company to manufacture silver and gold “into articles which are here in common use”. Thus, the Batavia’s shipment of luxurious silver ewers, waterbasins, dishes, bowls, and bedposts was part of a Dutch East India Company ’trial’, intended to stop the drain of precious metals from the United Netherlands to Mughal India. While the European export of cash and bullion to India and the intra-Asian spice trade have always received due attention in studies of the VOC, these underresearched silver objects at the WA Museum - rare survivals of Dutch-Australian maritime heritage – contribute (among others) to a fuller understanding of the VOC’s trade and cultural exchange with Asia in general and Mughal India in particular.

This interdisciplinary project, a close collaboration between the University of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum, the University of Amsterdam, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, with cooperation of the National Archives in The Hague, promises to advance the research of historical and technical aspects of the seventeenth-century VOC silver in the WA Museum. It aims to scan, visualise and analyse the trade silverware carried on board the Batavia.

Funded by: The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Australia and the University of Western Australia


Funding overview

2019 UWA Research Collaboration Award ‘Visualising Batavia Silverware: Imaging and Analysing VOC’s Precious Metal Trade Objects for Mughal India’, led by Arvi Wattel, in collaboration with Alistair Paterson (UWA), Alexandra Suvorova (UWA), Susanne Meurer (UWA), Jeremy Green (WA Museum), Corioli Souter (WA Museum), Robert Erdmann (University of Amsterdam), and Tamar Davidowitz (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), $11,500.

2019 UWA School of Design Research Committee Funding, 'The Material Museum', Susanne Meurer and Arvi Wattel, $2,450.

2019 Shared Cultural Heritage Programme, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs ‘Visualising Batavia Silverware: Imaging and Analysing VOC’s Precious Metal Trade Objects for Mughal India’, led by Arvi Wattel, in collaboration with Jeremy Green (WA Museum), Corioli Souter (WA Museum), Robert Erdmann (University of Amsterdam), Tamar Davidowitz (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam), and Lidwien Jansen (The National Archives of the Netherlands, The Hague), $24,574.

2018 European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) Actions Grant ‘ People in Motion. Entangled Histories of Displacement in the Mediterranean (1492-1923)’, led by Giovanni Tarantino (University of Florence), in collaboration with a group of international scholars from the humanities, and social sciences, with Arvi Wattel as one of three Australian researchers on the project, EUR520,000.

2017 Funding to Develop External Grant Application on the History of Emotions, ARC Centre for the History of Emotions ‘Entangled Histories of Emotions in the Mediterranean World’, led by Giovanni Tarantino (Universita degli Studi di Firenze), in collaboration with Arvi Wattel, Nadia Al-Bagdadi (Central European University), Lisa Beaven (The University of Melbourne), Randi Deguilhem (CNRS/MMSH/Aix-Marseille University), Lauren Jacobi (MIT), Susanne Meurer (UWA), $7,911.

2017 UWA - IAS Visiting Fellowship Grant For a visit of Lauren Jacobi (MIT) to UWA, $3,500.

2016 UWA Alumni Fund Grant ‘Animated Art: Enhanced Learning through Gamification’, Rene van Meeuwen, Susanne Meurer and Arvi Wattel, $25,000.


Teaching overview






Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Research expertise keywords

  • Art History
  • Dutch History
  • Dutch Batavia (Jakarta)
  • Rome
  • Italian Renaissance history and literature
  • Global art history
  • Batavia Shipwreck


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