The 10th Annual Ards Conference, which promotes and celebrates new research in the field of medieval and Renaissance sculpture, will focus on the interaction and interplay between the Low Countries and Italy in medieval and Renaissance sculpture.
In 2026 M Leuven will organize an exhibition on the cultural exchange between the Low Countries and Italy in the field of sculpture. The Low Countries have always been a place where painting flourished. That this region, especially in the sixteenth century, also had a significant school of sculptors is often forgotten. Influenced by humanist ideas and the political, economic, and religious upheavals of the time, Netherlandish sculptors abandoned the Gothic style: a new sculpture influenced by the Italian artists was born. With their oeuvres, technical mastery and creativity, the scultori fiamminghi left their mark all across Europe, from the Scandinavian countries to the Spanish court, creating their own Italianate style.
The project aims to highlight the importance of the artistic links between Italy and the Low Countries during the Renaissance, and more specifically in the field of Netherlandish sculpture in Italy. Based on a selection of emblematic works – including wooden, alabaster, marble, and bronze sculptures, as well as drawings and engravings, often produced in Italy itself, the exhibition aims to provide, for the first time, the most comprehensive overview possible of the history of sixteenth-century sculpture from the Low Countries and its connection with the Italian Renaissance.
In the wake of this exhibition the 10th Ards Annual Conference will focus on the artistic exchanges in medieval and Renaissance sculpture between these two regions. The conference will take place in Rome, at the Academia Belgica and the Royal Netherlands Institute Rome (KNIR), between Tuesday 7 November en Thursday 9 November 2023.
The conference programme consists of lectures, in combination with a choice of excursions.