Looking backwards, moving forwards: imitation and canon-making in Italy and the Netherlands, 15th and 16th centuries

Symposium: 23 November 2007

From the website of the Onderzoekschool Kunstgeschiedenis, Utrecht

In the past a variety of terminologies has been used to describe the relation of one work of art to another: imitation, plagiarism, copy, variation, paraphrase, reception, quotation, inversion, allusion, homage, irony, parody or theft. This list can be infinitely enlarged. A lot of these characterizations are vague and often not without prejudice or estimation. More recently, the term interpictoriality (in German Interpikturalität or Interbildlichkeit) has been proposed as an overall term that should capture all the above-mentioned relationships without a moral judgement. Interpictorial research is thereby not so much interested in cataloguing references per se, but is interested in the reasons that lay behind them. It is assumed that imitation was part of an artistic strategy, and that, as a result of that, references to other works of art beard meaning. In this respect, interpictoriality differentiates from the older research on sources and influence. Aside the questions wherefrom and what, interpictoriality asks for the why and how.

The Renaissance period is often regarded as an Art Era, wherein artists became increasingly self-conscious. They started to reflect on their position as an artist. Artists fashioned themselves, consciously shaped their styles, and reflected on art as art. As a part of this, artists referred deliberately to other artists and other works of art. Our conference will be devoted to these references in relation to the artistic canon and the shaping of it. In the sixteenth-century, both in Northern and Southern Europe, the artistic canon was generally discussed, sometimes even heavily debated, but not yet established. One question we would like to address is how various kinds of interpictorial references are related to the canonization of certain images and artists. Did artists refer to or quote from art works of (presumed) canonical artists to increase their own status? What was the effect of these references on the original works or on the masters referred to? Did their quotations contribute to the canonization of the quoted? And if this is the case, did it change the perception of the canonical artist?

In short: the conference will be devoted to the (re)writing of art’s history and the process of canonization as a result of conscious imitation.


9.45 am
Registration and coffee

10.15 am
Introduction, by Reindert Falkenburg (Leiden University),

10.30 am
‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’: Repetition and the Aesthetics of the Same but Different
by Maria Loh (University College London)

11.15 am
Valeska Von Rosen (Ruhr-Universität Bochum),

12.00 am

12.15 pm

1.30 pm
‘Quis nouus hic Hieronymus Orbi Boschius?’ Pieter Bruegel as the new Jheronimus Bosch
Matthijs Ilsink (Radboud University Nijmegen)

2.00 pm
Contextualising copies: Investigating copies and reproductions after Early-Netherlandish masters in the light of the reception of their art in the second half of the 16th century
Joris van Grieken (Catholic University Leuven),

2.30 pm
Volker Manuth (Radboud University Nijmegen)

3.00 pm

3.15 pm
Tea and Coffee

3.45 pm
On the Origins of ‘Art’ Michelangelo’s Battle of Cascina
Joost Keizer (Leiden University)

4.15 pm
Transferring the model: Raphael’s designs and the Ferrarese response, 1540-1543
Arvi Wattel (Radboud University Nijmegen / Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore)

4.45 pm
Concluding Remarks and roundtable discussion
Bernard Aikema (Università di Verona)

5.15 pm




Matthijs Ilsink
Arvi Wattel