CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

17th-century sculpture of the Low Countries from Hendrick de Keyser to Jean Del Cour

Research Conference: 13 March - 15 March 2009

Information from the organizers

A pdf copy of this program including the registration form can be downloaded here

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 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.

Issues to be addressed (non-limitative list):
– 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.
– 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
– Collaborations with other disciplines
– Architectural sculpture
– 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,…)

The 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.

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 conference offers a critical review of this discourse, which is sorely needed in a field dominated by literature written over sixty years ago and which did not grasp the importance of the field of sculpture. Appropriately, this field has recently been termed the greatest unknown product of Low Countries art history, a tradition that had a deep and powerful impact throughout Europe.

The presence of many internationally reputed scholars, combined with a series of scholars from the new generation, promises to bring together an array of studies in this hitherto unjustly neglected area. The number and quality of the proposals received in response to the call for papers clearly indicates that the time is ripe to reassess 17th-century sculpture of the Low Countries and to address this subject on a par with that of Italy. High-level discussions are anticipated due to the topicality and relevance of current research on major 17th-century artists of the Low Countries, in any media.

Organising Committee

– Prof Dr Dominique Allart, UniversitĂ© de Liège
– Prof Dr Arnout Balis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
– Geneviève Bresc-Bautier, MusĂ©e du Louvre, Paris
– Dr Helena Bussers, formerly Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels
– Prof Dr Manuel Couvreur, UniversitĂ© Libre de Bruxelles
– Professor Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Princeton University
– Prof Dr ir arch Krista De Jonge, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
– Eymert-Jan Goossens, Stichting Koninklijk Paleis, Amsterdam
– Dr ValĂ©rie Herremans, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen
– Dr Alain Jacobs, Royal Library, Brussels
– Dr LĂ©on Lock, formerly University of London
– Michel Maupoix, Association Rencontre avec le Patrimoine religieux, – OrlĂ©ans
– Prof Dr Jeffrey Muller, Brown University, Providence, RI (USA)
– Prof Dr Konrad Ottenheym, Universiteit Utrecht
– Wim Roels, The Low Countries Sculpture Society
– Dr Frits Scholten, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
– Myriam Serck, Institut royal du Patrimoine artistique, Brussels
– Pier Terwen, independent conservator and historian of sculpture, Leiden
– Dr Francis Tourneur, Pierres et Marbres de Wallonie asbl


Wednesday 11 March 2009

Pre-conference excursion to marble quarries and museums at Namur and Rance (start and finish at Namur station). Visits to include the only two marble quarries of Belgium still in operation, by special permission of the owner, Merbes-Sprimont SA: the famous black marble at Mazy/Golzinne and grey/red marble at Vodelée. The Musée de Groesbeeck de Croix and the Musée du Marbre, Rance will conclude the day, led by geologist Dr Francis Tourneur.

[Thursday 12 March, 12.00-21.00: official opening of the TEFAF Fair at Maastricht]
[Friday 11.00-19.00: first public day of the TEFAF]

Friday 13 March 2009
[15.07-16.35: train (every hour) Maastricht-Brussels Central]
[15.30-16.45: Maastricht TEFAF-Brussels by car]

Royal Academy, Brussels rue Ducale/Hertogstraat 1
Welcome reception
Opening speeches (Rubens Hall)
Chair: Prof Dr Krista De Jonge, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Keynote Lecture

Prof Dr Jeffrey Muller, Brown University, Providence, RI (USA)
Counter Reformation in sculpture: new frameworks for Catholic worship in 17th-century Flanders
[20.00: Royal Academy closes]
[Free evening]

Saturday 14 March 2009
Royal Museums of Fine-Arts, Brussels
[between 9.00 and 10.00, entry only via Museum Street 9, the service entrance]


Session One

Dr Kristoffer Neville, University of California Riverside, Los Angeles
The invisibility of Netherlandish sculpture
[10.00 Museum opens to the public]

Dr Guido Hinterkeuser, Berlin
17th century Netherlandish sculpture and sculptors in Brandenburg-Prussia. Reflections on a paradigm and its limitations

Dr LĂ©on Lock, formerly University of London
Bronze sculpture in the Low Countries in the late 17th century: Quellinus, Del Cour, Grupello. Art historical dustbin or historic reality?

Luis Luna Martin, former director of the Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid
Joseph Aerts, José De Arce, sculpteur à Sevilla


Lunch in the cafeteria [level -1, take the main staircase adjacent to the Forum]

Session Two
Patronage and potential of sculpture for glorification

Dr Frits Scholten, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Keynote Lecture: Sculpture and republicanism in the Northern Netherlands

Jean-Philippe Huys, Université Libre de Bruxelles
Le prince Ă©lecteur Max Emmanuel de Bavière et l’art de la sculpture dans les Pays-Bas mĂ©ridionaux, de 1692 Ă  1715

Dr Nancy Kay, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA (USA)
The Virgin of the Antwerp fish market: Sanctifying the city through public works



Session Three
Sculptors’ practices

Dr Valérie Herremans, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerpen
Contestation & aspiration. Calvinist iconoclasm and guild regulations: determining factors of Antwerp sculpture at the dawn of the baroque era

Dr Aleksandra Lipińska, University of Wrocław, Poland
Decline, break or continuation? Southern Netherlandish alabaster sculpture in the 17th century

Dr Alain Jacobs, Royal Library, Brussels
Les Verbrugghen et le dessin de sculpteur
[17.00 Museum closes to the public]


Close of first day
[18.00 Museum closes for all]
[between 17.00 and 18.00, exit only via Museum Street 9, the service entrance]
Optional Conference Dinner

Sunday 15 March 2009
Visit of the Tour et Tassis chapel dedicated to St Ursula, Notre-Dame du Sablon / OLV ten Zavel, Brussels

[Church open 9.00-18.00, mass at 17.00]
NB Exceptional access before the forthcoming conservation project !
Due to the limited size of the chapel, groups of maximum 20 participants.
Registration: first come first served.
9.00-9.10: Group One, in French
9.15-9.25: Group Two, in English
9.30-9.40: Group Three, in French
9.45-9.55: Group Four, in Dutch

Royal Museums of Fine-Arts, Brussels
[Museum opens at 10.00: please enter via the main entrance on Rue de la RĂ©gence/ Regentschapsstraat; conference in the same Auditorium adjacent to the Forum]


Session Four
Relations with the other arts

Géraldine Patigny, Université Libre de Bruxelles/Institut royal du Patrimoine artistique
Le sculpteur, le peintre et l’architecte. Le cas de Bruxelles au XVIIe siècle

Jan Van Damme, Monumentenzorg Gent
The role of cabinet makers in the production of sculpture

Wim Nys, Zilvermuseum Sterckshof, Antwerpen-Deurne
Sculptors modelling Antwerp silver


Lunch in the cafeteria [level -1, take the main staircase adjacent to the Forum]

Session Five
Sculpture and its architectural context

Dr Francis Tourneur, Pierres et Marbres de Wallonie asbl
Les marbres jaspés de Wallonie : les débuts de leur utilisation avant les grandes commandes pour Versailles

Fabrice Giot, Université Catholique de Louvain
Pistes et réflexions pour une meilleure connaissance du stuc dans les Pays-Bas méridionaux au tournant des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles

Geneviève Bresc-Bautier, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Adam Lottman et le retable de Notre-Dame de Calais



Prof Dr Arnout Balis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Final discussion

Closing remarks
[17.00: Museum closes for all]
[7-minute walk to Brussels Central station]
[16.40-17.50: Brussels-Maastricht by car]
[17.01-18.46: Brussels Central station-Maastricht by train]
[17.00-19.00: CODART welcome reception at the Maastricht town hall]
[Monday 16 March 2009-Tuesday 17 March 2009: CODART conference]

Publication of the proceedings

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

An initiative of The Low Countries Sculpture Society