CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

The (Counter-)Reformation countered: considering the nude and the norm in the Low Countries in the seventeenth century

Symposium: 6 December - 7 December 2007

KU Leuven, December 6-7, 2007. Organized by Karolien De Clippel and Katlijne Van der Stighelen.

Erasmusgebouw, Justus Lipsiuszaal
Blijde-Inkomststraat 21
B-3000 Leuven

From the beginning of the sixteenth century and especially throughout the seventeenth century the nude grew into one of the most appealing subjects in Netherlandish painting. This success can be largely explained by the prestige the Renaissance attached to those images in the belief that the depiction of female nude was the loftiest ambition a painter could pursue. Rubens, a seminal figure in this entire story, also adhered to this view and (compelled by other reasons as well) introduced nude figures into countless compositions. However, their popularity notwithstanding, representations of the nude were subject of severe criticism and a source of shame. Written sources suggest that explicitly nude images were under scrutinized and met with resistance from spokesmen of the official moral, and from at least part of the broader population.

The aim of this two-day international symposium consists in clarifying this ambiguity. In the course of the last two decades, research from various perspectives (cultural history, art history, philology, theology etc.) has contributed significantly to our knowledge of the nude in early modern times. This conference will offer a platform to confront and debate these insights and seeks to shed light on the dissemination and meaning of the nude in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Netherlands, and to propose potential new avenues of research.

December 6, 2007

Eric Jan Sluijter (University of Amsterdam), The Nude, the Artist and the Model: The Case of Rembrandt.

Erna Kok (University of Amsterdam), ‘Vrouwe-naeckten nae’t leven …’: fantasie of atelierpraktijk?

Victoria Sancho Lobis (Columbia), Painted Drawing Books and the Dissemination of Ideal Male Anatomy in Northern Europe.

Hubert Meeus (University of Antwerp), ‘Twee bronnen van yvoor’. Naakt op het Nederlandse toneel van de 17de eeuw.

Johan Verberckmoes (KU Leuven), Ugly yet Funny. The Nude in 17th-Century Jestbooks.

Ralph Dekoninck (KU Leuven), The Art Stripped Bare by the Theologians, Even. Image of Nudity/Nudity of Image in the Religious Literature of the 17th Century.

Veerle De Laet (University of Antwerp), ‘een naeckt kindt, een naeckt vrauwken ende andere figueren’. An Analysis of Nude Representations in the Brussels Domestic Setting.

December 7, 2007

Aileen Ribeiro (Courtauld Institute), Sacred and Profane. Naked and Painted Faces in the Early Modern Period.

Paul Taylor (Warburg Institute), Colouring Nakedness in Dutch Art and Theory.

Ann-Sophie Lehmann (University of Utrecht), Nude Tradition vs. Naked Innovation. Jan van Eyck’s Adam and Eve Panels as Ancestors of the ‘Northern Nude’.

Koenraad Jonckheere (NOW and University of Amsterdam), Vieze voeten en vuile vingernagels. Lichamelijkheid, heiligheid en vulgariteit in Antwerpen ten tijde van de Beeldenstorm.

Fiona Healy (Mainz), Attitudes to Male Nudity in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Netherlandish Art.

Marieke De Winkel (Nijmegen), Showing Skin. Notions of Impropriety in Dress in the Golden Age.

Marie-Paule Geraerts (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), Het Venusfeest van Peter Paul Rubens.

Karolien De Clippel (FWO-Vlaanderen and KU Leuven), Altering, Hiding and Maintaining. Rubensian Nude and Censorial Stance.