CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Call for Papers: Mechelen and Early 19th-Century Sculpture: between Tradition and Innovation (Mechelen, 10-11 March 2006)

In conjunction with a number of exhibitions to be held next spring in the Stedelijke Musea Mechelen on local 19th-century sculpture, the museums are co-organizing a conference on 10-11 March 2006. Proposals for papers can be accepted until 15 November 2005.


Stedelijke Musea Mechelen
Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheidkunde, Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen
The Low Countries Sculpture Society

Organizing committee

Dr Raphaël de Smedt )Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheidkunde, Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen)
Wim Hüsken (Stedelijke Musea Mechelen)
Dr Alain Jacobs (The Low Countries Sculpture Society)
Léon Lock (The Low Countries Sculpture Society)
Bart Stroobants (Stedelijke Musea Mechelen)

Information from the organizers

An international conference on the occasion of the exhibition Welgevormd: de Mechelse beeldhouwschool in de negentiende eeuw en haar Europese uitstraling, Mechelen, 18 February-23 April 2006.

Mechelen was a thriving centre for sculpture in the early 19th century, balancing itself between ancien régime traditions and innovations brought from abroad, especially from Italy and Paris. It played with many new themes and expressions in the neo-classical or romantic veins, while at the same time mending or recreating church furniture that had been destroyed during the French Revolution. This activity ensured the continuation of the tradition of Baroque sculpture.

The conference takes as its starting point the sculptural production at Mechelen in the first half of the 19th century, represented in the exhibitions in the Stedelijke Musea. It will explore the interactions between different schools at a time of nation formation and the search for national identities. Developments in Mechelen were part of the creation of the Belgian kingdom in 1830/31.

Papers are invited on any relevant topic. As a suggestion for possibilities, the following questions and issues may be considered:

  • The sculptor’s attempt to acquire patronage: new ways since the revolutionary period
  • The commissioning process: intentions and expectations
  • Survival or revival? Style and its implications
  • Old and new iconographies
  • Materials and techniques, their cost and their relative status
  • Political structures and the consumption of sculpture
  • The architectural context for sculptural production
  • Painting and sculpture: competition and cross-fertilisation
  • Academies and the teaching of sculpture
  • The export of sculpture vs. Emigration


Provisional program

(NB. Thursday 9 March, official opening of TEFAF, Maastricht)

Friday, 10 March 2006, 11:00-18:00
Papers interspersed by a visit to the exhibitions (the sculptures at Lamot; the drawings at the Schepenhuis)

Saturday, 11 March 2006, 9:00-17:00
Papers in the morning and early afternoon, followed by a visit of sculpture on squares and in a selection of churches in Mechelen.


The proceedings will be published by the Koninklijke Kring voor Oudheidkunde, Letteren en Kunst van Mechelen.

Paper proposals should arrive by 15 November 2005 at the Society’s secretariat (see below) in the format of an A4 page abstract and a brief CV, preferably by email. Proposals and papers will be accepted in Dutch, French and English.


The Low Countries Sculpture Society
P.O. Box 1304
B-1000 Brussels 1
E The Low Countries Sculpture Society