CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The Artistic Exchanges between the Low Countries and France, 1482-1814: Call for Papers

Until now, the study of the artistic exchanges between the European
countries during the modern period always focused on the relationships
with Italy, considered as the source and the origin of the Renaissance.
For several years now, because of the geographical proximity of these
two cultural traditions, the art historians of Lille 3 University have
been studying the links between France and the Low Countries – i.e. the
Seven Provinces, but also Flanders – in order to study other aspects of
Western art of that period. Following three former meetings , the topic
suggested for the next conference, planned for 2008, is:

“The Artistic Exchanges
Between the Low Countries and France, 1482-1814”

The very title of this conference calls for two explanations. The first
relates to the concept of “artistic exchanges”. It would have been more
convenient to speak, as is usual for such similar problems, of
“influences” on and between the artistic traditions and researches in
these two parts of modern Europe. We didn’t make that choice. In our
view, this concept of “influence” does not seem suitable to describe
the complexity of these relations. In a certain way, this conference aims
at reconstructing and exploring this very notion of “artistic exchange(s)”
by showing, through precise and varied examples, the range of the
various “meetings” between French, Flemish and Dutch artists from the
16th to the 19th century. The second explanation concerns the choice of
the chronological span: 1482-1814. The first limit corresponds to the
end of the Burgundian period for the Netherlands, which led to the
integration of Burgundy into the kingdom of France. The second
corresponds to the date of the Vienna Congress, during which the
kingdom of Belgium was merged to the Netherlands and entrusted to
Guillaume the First.
Thus, we will consider a very broad chronology – more than three
centuries – and try to take into account the historical realities of
these various countries, in order to evaluate the nature of their
artistic exchanges while not focusing on some aspects and issues which
have been treated previously. The art market, connoisseurship or the
survey of collections, which have all been often studied in the past,
with recent conferences, will not be evoked. Nevertheless, the
following themes will be privileged:

1. The books
By nature, the books are a privileged support for the exchange of
competences and artistic crafts, but also constitute a source of
knowledge between the major figures of social and intellectual life.
Their study covers two principal aspects. One could concentrate on the
texts themselves, as well as their material and concrete dimensions or
contents. It is also possible to analyze the libraries, be they actual
ones (such as inventories, etc.) or “virtual” ones (i.e. the
reconstruction of an artist’s readings). In order to study these
documents, various perspectives can be envisaged:

a. The study of texts would make it possible to estimate the French
authors’ knowledge of Dutch and Flemish theoretical or historical
writings – that is to say the French reception of Philip Angels, Samuel
van Hoogstraten, Gerard de Lairesse, Arnold Houbraken, and the likes so
as to define which topics are selected, what the major theoretical
orientations appear to be or which positive and negative criteria may
be involved in the reception of foreign traditions.
A reciprocal analysis concerning the French writings (Roger de Piles,
André Félibien, Dezallier d’Argenville, Descamps, etc.) which
circulated in the Netherlands and Flanders would bring complementary elements.
The translations or the adaptations of other books – by Roger de Piles,
Charles-Alphonse Dufresnoy in the Netherlands and Carel van Mander,
Gerard de Lairesse or Arnold Houbraken in France – and the books of
models would also compose a relevant approach.

b. The study of private libraries would enable us to evaluate the
reception of foreign works – French art books read in the Netherlands
and Dutch books available in France. An analysis and a reconstitution
of the different modes of reading and the book culture of new key-figures,
such as collectors, amateurs, theoreticians and artists, would be
paramount to an accurate study of what Dutch, Flemish or French readers
would have found arguable or praiseworthy in the artistic cultures of
their neighbours, the owners’ personalities thus constituting a major
aspect of the research.

c. Lastly, press and newspapers remain a very important source in order
to consider the circulation of information and the feedback given to
some artistic events. The recent electronic edition of a periodical
like the Gazette d’Amsterdam should greatly facilitate researches. Many
French newspapers (Journal encyclopédique, Mercure de France) have also
been published as fac-similés, which render possible the carrying out
of valuable  evaluations.

2. The artists
a. Travels constitute an essential part of the artistic training, and
such travels did not always lead to Italy. The presence of French
artists in the Netherlands and of Northern artists in France has been
attested since the 14th century. And it sometimes resulted in the final
installation of some of them in their adoptive country. Numerous
questions spring to mind, among which: Who were these French artists in
the Netherlands and these Dutch or Flemish artists in France? Did they
transcribe their travelling experience through drawing and/or writing?
Who were the artists who settled in their countries of adoption
(Bernard Picart in the Netherlands, or Karel van Falens in France, for
example)? What type of motivations urged them to do so (i.e. religious,
economic, artistic ones)? Would they try to impose their own traditions on
the new host country or would they rather assimilate the local practices?

b. In order to judge the circulation of artists in the North of Europe,
the issue of relationships and networks – via the study of artists and
scholars’ letters, documents and files, etc. – also proves crucial and
must be viewed in connection with artistic exchanges of that time.

c. The particular case of “mediators”, i.e. foreign artists having
worked in the two studied geographical areas, finally proves an
extremely rewarding study (e.g. Giorgio Ghisi), insofar as it would
allow a distinction between the proper specificities of each visual and
artistic tradition, and the different strategies used by these artists
in order to integrate it into their own art.

3. The art works
a. The taste for Dutch and Flemish art in seventeenth- and
eighteenth-century France has been highlighted since the publishing of
Horst Gerson’s Ausbreitung und Nachwirkung der hollandischen Malerei
des 17. Jahrhunderts (Haarlem, 1942). But many interrogations do remain
concerning the repercussions of this vogue among French artists (visual
culture, personal production, etc), on artistic theory and criticism,
then in full bloom, and on the activities and the conferences of the
Académie royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in Paris. It remains to be
seen which foremost Dutch and Flemish models were used and studied by
French painters and how they got transmitted, what the key-events were
and whether they had any impact on the Académie royale and its
teachings or within the framework of the artistic production of the Court
and, last but not least, what critical reactions were aired.
A symmetrical study could be developed and for example, more intensive
research of the French models in the ancient Netherlands’ architecture
and decorative arts would be useful. Such research could address the
following questions : were the Dutch and Flemish artists receptive to
the French influence and why? Who were the most appreciated French

4. The prints
As light supports, of a multiple nature and moderate cost, prints
circulated most easily from one country to another. For this reason,
engraving played a crucial part in the cultural and artistic exchanges,
and as a source of knowledge or a way of diffusing the models for the
visual and decorative arts. These various functions can be analysed in
many ways and particularly through the transfers of important workshops
from Paris to Amsterdam (Bernard Picart) or from the Flanders to France
(Gerard Edelynck).

5. The institutions
The development of institutions such as the academies, the art schools,
the salons or the exhibition places in each country could also be
explored in terms of exchanges and reciprocal trade, because they
sometimes encouraged the movement of the young artists in search of a
training, and the “travelling” of art works. In Paris, the influent
Académie royale de Peinture et de Sculpture and the Académie royale
d’Architecture were successively created in 1648 and in 1671 and
regular Salons were held at the Louvre from 1737 onwards. We may wonder to
which extent the creation and development of these institutions determined
the artistic life of the Flemish and Dutch artists, on which model these
academies and their teachings were based and if they attract artists
from abroad. Finally, where and how were the art exhibitions produced
and presented, and were foreign artists invited?

6. The “border zones”
A last problem will regard what one could call the “intermediary zones”
or “border-zones”, that is to say the geographical areas located
between, or close to, the countries which will be studied in the course
of our conference. Four such “reaches” quite naturally spring to mind:
namely Liège, the Alsace region, the Lorraine one and the North of


These research possibilities around the artistic exchanges between
France and the Low Countries are, as one can easily see, quite
numerous, and one hopes they will provide a profitable and essential
confrontation involving Belgian, Dutch and French scholars, but also, in a
general way, all those interested in these themes and issues.

Date and location
The conference will be held at the University of Lille 3 in May 2008
(probably 28-29-30 May 2008).
Languages: French or English.
The acts of the conference will be published.

Paper submit
If you wish to propose a contribution corresponding to one of the
evoked themes, please forward an e-mail to
Gaëtane Maes (e-mail :
and Jan Blanc (e-mail :
before  April 30th 2007

· the name of your institution;
· the title of your contribution;
· a precise summary (400 words);
· a short curriculum vitae, including a selection of your previous

All the proposals will be examined and selected by the members of the
scientific committee.

Scientific committee
Marion Boudon-Machuel (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art, Paris)
Peter Fuhring (Radboud Universiteit, Nijmegen)
Christophe Loir (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique –
Université Libre de Bruxelles)
Christian Michel (Université de Lausanne)
Patrick Michel (Université de Lille 3)
Myriam Serck-Dewaide (Institut royal du Patrimoine artistique –
Koninklijk Instituut voor het Kunstpatrimonium, Bruxelles)
Maria van Berge-Gerbaud (Fondation Custodia, Paris)
Kathlijne Van der Stighelen (Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven)

Organizing committee
Martine Aubry (Université de Lille 3 – IRHiS)
Jan Blanc (Université de Lausanne)
Josèphe Broutin (Université de Lille 3 – IRHiS)
Maria Teresa Caracciolo (CNRS – IRHiS)
Gaëtane Maes (Université de Lille 3 – IRHiS)
Alain Tapié (Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille)
Jean-Christophe Van Thienen (Université de Lille 3)

For more information, please contact the organizers of the conference:
Gaëtane MAES, maître de conférences in the University of Lille 3
Université de Lille 3
Laboratoire IRHiS – UMR CNRS 8529
BP 60149
F-59653 Villeneuve d’Ascq cedex
Jan BLANC, maître-assistant in the University of Lausanne
Länggassstrasse 23
CH-3012 Bern