CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Call for Papers on 17th-Century Sculpture of the Low Countries for Congress in Brussels from 13 to 15 March 2009

The Low Countries Sculpture Society is holding a three-day conference following the opening of the TEFAF, for which it invites papers. The deadline for submitting proposals is 3 September 2008.


Announcement by the organizers

After international conferences at the Museum Schnütgen, Köln (2003), the Wallace Collection, London (2004), the Musée du château de Modave (2005), the city museums of Mechelen (2006) and at Mons (2008), The Low Countries Sculpture Society invites you to an

International conference in Brussels, 13-15 March 2009

(immediately after the opening of the TEFAF Fair at Maastricht and before the CODART congress)

The present conference wishes to discuss sculpture produced in the Low Countries and/or by sculptors from the Low Countries in the 17th century. It will constitute a follow-up from the conference on sculpture from the previous century held at Mons in March 2008. 16th-century sculptural production laid many of the foundations for the development of large-scale sculptural production in the 17th century (particularly with the models of Jacques Du Broeucq and Cornelis Floris), culminating in Antwerpen in the second half of the 17th century and allowing the development of a near-monopoly situation by one consortium of artists, the Quellinus-Verbrugghen-Scheemaeckers-Willemssens dynasty.

The history of Low Countries sculpture of the 17th century, like that of the 16th, has principally been written in the form of important artists’ monographs. This history was mostly written in-between the two World Wars. These writings created a system of paradigms (notably about “Italianism” and “Flemishness”), rooted in stylistic analysis that today we have great difficulty in understanding, let alone accepting. We could call this system the « discourse of influence ».

The present conference wishes to discuss the pertinence of this state of knowledge and create links that might lead to a less fragmented overall view than the one we have today. Our current view is not so much the fruit of a lack of archival material, as the consequence of the traditional methods of art history, that still condition much of our perception of 17th-century sculpture.

Since the seminal 1977 Brussels exhibition and the exhibitions in 2000 of the Charles Van Herck collection, a number of students of sculpture, however, has recently attempted to tackle this subject. These studies may form a starting point for an integrated reappraisal of sculptural production in the Low Countries in the 17th century.

Some of the following questions and issues may form starting points, but they are of course not limitative :

– Post-Tridentine sculpture: new and renewed iconographies and typologies
– Migration towards the main centres of training and production, such as Antwerpen
– The institutional context: guilds, academies and the training of sculptors
– New and renewed materials: marble, bronze, etc.
– Sculptors’ drawings
– Patterns in the development of taste
– Relations court artists – sculptors
– Kunstkammer, foreign patronage and collecting
– Emigration to foreign courts
– Exports vs. subsidiary workshops vs. emigration
– Relations painters and architects – sculptors
– Relations goldsmiths – sculptors
– Collaborations with other disciplines
– Architectural sculpture

– The principal artists concerned have biographies in the seminal Brussels 1977 exhibition catalogue, to which may be added those of the Northern Netherlands  (Hendrick de Keyser, Rombout Verhulst, Bartolomeus Eggers, Jan Blommendael, etc.) as well as those active in the region of Lille.

– Initiators and followers : the concept applied to the context studied here and its limitations
– The concept of schools: localism vs. Italianism
– French Revolutionary destructions, displacements and conservation
– European comparisons on methodological level (France, Spain, Germany,…)

Provisional programme

(Thursday 12 March 2009, noon-9 pm, official opening of the TEFAF Fair at Maastricht)

(Friday 13 March 2009, 11 am-7 pm, first public day of the TEFAF)

Friday 13 March 2009, 7 pm, Keynote Lecture
Saturday 14 March 2009, 9.30 am-6 pm, papers and discussions
Sunday 15 March 2009, 9.30 am-4.30 pm, papers and discussions

(Sunday 15 March 2009, 5 pm, optional travel to Maastricht for the CODART congress)

Publication of the proceedings

Volume 4 in the series “Low Countries Sculpture” published by Equilibris Publishing for The Low Countries Sculpture Society.

Conference languages

English will be preferred to make the conference fully international, but other major languages should be acceptable.

Call for papers

For 30 min-papers in the form of an abstract (of maximum 300 words in any major European language) and a brief CV (of a few lines), to be submitted to the Organising Committee via the Secretariat of the Society, preferably by email to or to
PO Box 1304
B-1000 Brussels 1


an initiative of
The Low Countries Sculpture Society