CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Formulating a response: methods of research on Italian and Northern European art, 1400-1600

conference: 20 April - 23 April 2006

N.B. On 9 April the organizers requested CODART to announce that the program is fully subscribed and that no new registrations can be accepted.


Joost Keizer, Todd Richardson

Information from the organizers

The aim of this conference is to examine recent methodologies in the study of art of the Northern Countries and that of Italy in the early modern period (15th–16th centuries). Rather than focusing on the artistic exchange between Italy and the North, concentration will be on methodological differences in the historical approach to northern and southern Renaissance art. In so doing, we hope to (re-) integrate what has become a marked division in art-historical method.

Spread over two days and divided into four categories, the symposium will begin with two keynote speakers, one focused in Italian modes of representation (Klaus Krüger, Freie Universität, Berlin) and the other in Netherlandish (Reindert Falkenburg, Leiden University). Four sessions make up the core of the conference, which are divided by subject matter:

1. Visual art theory

The session will concentrate on the visual construction of art theory. Whereas Italy boasted a reasonable corpus of art-theoretical writings in the early modern period, this literature occurs only sporadically in the North. The discrepancy has led to the reductive belief that Italian art is based in a theoretical agenda while the art of the Northern countries was produced without any reflection on the theory and practice of painting. The papers under consideration will confront this notion by concentrating on the evidence offered by the objects themselves.

2. Representation of nature / nature of representation

The session will be devoted to the meaning of landscape and genre in the early modern period. In the course of time, study of this genre has concentrated on such diverse themes as the representation and formation of ‘reality,’ the representation of time, the religious meaning of landscapes, and the geographically bound factors which led to the emergence of the landscape and genre-piece. However, although it is usually considered as a typical Northern phenomenon, landscape painting enjoyed a notable popularity in Italy as well.

3. Patron and portraiture

The representation of the patron (alone, in the company of family, represented in an altarpiece or chapel decoration, or in a devotional diptych) has since recently been the subject of studies in the identity-formation of the elite in early modern Europe. Touching on such issues as the religious self, the idealization of the sitter, the social identity of the patron and the way these portraits mediate the patron’s relation to the wider world, the study of early modern portraiture has also come to clearly illustrate the different approaches of Northern and Italian art.

4. Collection and display as the formation of public and private identity

Recent developments in a variety of historical disciplines, including art history, literary studies, history of religion and others, have begun to re-evaluate the concept of self and identity in the early-modern period (1350-1650). Rather than thinking of self to be a discrete, static entity, we now understand it to be formed and re-formed in a continual, dynamic process. Similarly, religious, social and personal identities were constituted through devotional practices, communal rituals and performances (e.g. liturgies, Joyous Entries, weddings, etc.). The built environment, the physical habitat – including church, studiolo, city, theater, Kunst and Wunderkammern, and market – was thus the locus for a set of social and cultural practices by which the construction of inner self and the performance of outer identity were inseparably and relationally bound to one another.

Our prediction is that by juxtaposing research on similar topics, but different geographical regions, insightful similarities and comparisons of methodology will emerge.

Speakers include: Jeroen Stumpel (Utrecht University), Hugo van der Velden (Harvard University), Stephen Campbell (Johns Hopkins University), Mark Meadow (University of California, Santa Barbara), Henk van Veen (Groningen University)


Day 1 (Thursday, 20 April)

Evening (17:00-21:30)

17:00–17:15 Welcome (Dean, Faculty of Letters)
17:15–18:00: Keynote speaker 1: Reindert Falkenburg (Leiden University)
18:00–18:45: Keynote speaker 2: Klaus Krüger (Freie Universität Berlin)
18:45–19:15: Discussion: Jeroen Stumpel, Moderator (Utrecht University)

Day 2 (Friday, 21 April)

Morning (09:00-12:30)

Session One: Visual art theory

Moderator: Edward Grasman (Leiden University)

09:00–09:15 Introductions: Grasman
09:15–09:45 Michael Kwakkelstein
09:45–10:15 Todd Richardson (Leiden University)
10:15–10:45 Discussion

10.45–11:00 Tea / coffee break

11:00–11:30 Jeroen Stumpel (Utrecht University)
11:30–12:00 Bram de Klerck (Radbout University, Nijmegen)
12:00–12:30 Discussion

Afternoon (14:00–17:30)

Session Two: “Representation of nature / nature of representation”

Moderator: Bernard Aikema (University of Verona)

14:00–14:15 Introductions: Aikema
14:15–14:45 Dennis Geronimus (New York University)
14:45–15:15 Tanja Michalsky (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main)
15:15–15:45 Discussion

15:45–16:00 Coffee break

16:00–16:30 Bertram Kaschek (Technische Universität, Dresden)
16:30–17:00 Denis Ribouillaut (University of Paris I Sorbonne)
17:00–17:30 Discussion

Day 3 (Saturday, 22 April)

Morning (9:00-12:00)

Session Three: “Collection and display as the formation of public and private identity”

Moderator: Arjan de Koomen (Amsterdam University)

09:00–09:15 Introductions: Koomen
09:15–09:45 Stephen Campbell (Johns Hopkins University)
09:45–10:15 Mark Meadow (University of California, Santa Barbara)
10:15–10:45 Discussion

10:45–11:00 Tea / coffee break

11:00–11:30 Joost Keizer (Leiden University)
11:30–12:00 Emily Peters (University of California, Santa Barbara)
12:00–12:30 Discussion

Afternoon (14:00–17:30)

Session Four: “The patron and portraiture”

Moderator: Bert Meijer (Dutch University Institute, Florence (IT) and Utrecht University)

13:45–14:00 Introductions: Meijer
14:00–14:30 Hugo van der Velden (Harvard University)
14:30–15:00 Bram Kempers (University of Amsterdam)
15:00–15:30 Discussion

15:30–16:00 Coffee / tea break

16:00–16:30 Henk van Veen (Groningen University)
16:30–17:00 Jessica Buskirk (University of California, Berkeley)
17:00–17:30 Discussion
Concluding remarks: Hugo van der Velden

For updated information, see