The making of a heritage: A Croatian Vasari and his ‘Dictionary of South Slav artists’ as an essay in collective memory construction


  • Maximilian Hartmuth


This paper presents an analysis and interpretation of the ‘Dictionary of South Slav artists’, a compilation of artists biographies by the Illyrian and later Croat nationalist Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski. Released in 1858 after many years of research, it was modelled on earlier publication projects that had helped produce a modern literary genre flexible enough to be used to further agendas beyond a disinterested quest for knowledge. Kukuljević was a cultural-political activist intent on advancing the standing of Slavic communities in the Habsburg monarchys south and neighbouring territories. His ‘Dictionary’, as I shall argue, must be understood as an essay in national pedigree building. Disputing the ownership of objects, monuments and outstanding historical personalities, it promoted a sense of collective cultural self.