CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

City limits: urban identity, specialisation and autonomy in 17th-century Dutch art

Symposium: 24 April - 25 April 2009

From the university website, 10 March 2009

International conference:

Seventeenth-century Dutch art has long been recognised as a distinctly urban form of visual expression. Rapidly expanding cities and towns were the main location for artists, patrons, and the market, while much of the subject matter of Dutch art reflects the experiences and aspirations of middle-class urban elites. It has become commonplace to classify Dutch art according to local schools, groups of artists working in close geographical proximity with a perceived common style and shared iconographic interests.
This symposium has three main areas of focus. Firstly, the question of urban self-representation will be addressed. How did individual cities and towns construct a distinct identity through images? What were the processes and motivations involved in attaching certain modes of representation and subject matter to particular urban centres? Secondly, the conference intends to examine the rationale behind local tastes and trends. Why did certain (sub)genres emerge and flourish in a given artistic centre at a specific time, and others did not? The third theme will be the validity of approaching seventeenth-century art through the prism of “local schools”. Are such divisions justifiable given the short distances between the major centres of production in the Dutch Republic? While itinerant artists are known to have adjusted their style and working methods to local tastes, did others not deliberately follow trends from out of town in order to distinguish themselves from their local colleagues?

For more information, registration and the conference schedule, please visit the University College Dublin website


Newman House, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 (Friday, 24 April)

National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin 2 (Saturday, 25 April)


Dr. Adriaan Waiboer (National Gallery of Ireland), tel. + 353 (0) 1 6325599 or email

Dr. John Loughman (UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy), tel. + 353 (0) 1 7168565 or email

News about this symposium