Call for Papers: The Contribution of Artistic Genres to the Construction of the Dutch Golden Age (6-7 June 2019)

The project ‘A Golden Age? Rethinking 17th-century Dutch art’ intends to rethink the notion of the ‘Golden Age’, by analyzing the manner in which it was defined, thought and described in the seventeenth century itself, by the Dutch as well as by foreigners who observed the country. The project invites scholars to send in abstracts in preparation of its second international conference which is scheduled to take place the Netherlands on 6 and 7 June 2019.

Call for Papers for the Second International Conference of the FNS-sponsored Project: ‘Un Siècle d’Or? Repenser la peinture hollandaise du XVIIe siècle’

The Contribution of Artistic Genres to the Construction of the Dutch Golden Age
The Netherlands (exact location to be announced) / 6 – 7 June 2019
Deadline for papers: 31 October 2018

Whereas artistic genres are seen as a quintessential part of artistic production of the Dutch Golden Age ever since Denis Diderot, their definition, place and specificities still require further examination. In his Schilder-Boeck Carel van Mander refers to iconographic categories (beest, keucken, brand, zee, etc.) rather than clearly defined genres, and other authors followed along these lines. Nevertheless, the concept of genre continues to be applied today as a descriptive and hierarchical framework. Moreover, it is often used as a means to set the artistic production in the Dutch Republic apart from that of the rest of Europe. The new country needed a new art, and as such the development of a great variety of artistic genres has become a prime example of the Dutchness of Dutch art.

The development of new subject matter as part of the dynamics of artistic production in the United Provinces deserves further attention. Besides art literature, it is necessary to take artistic and workshop practices, the careers of individual artists as well as technical and formalist aspects of the art works into account. In addition, the geographical autonomy and idiosyncrasy of artistic genres on different scales should be considered: within the Dutch Republic itself, on a larger scale in relation to the Southern Netherlands, the rest of Europe and the world, and on a small scale with regard to specific regions, provinces and cities, as well as neighborhoods and even the workshops of individual masters.  

Questions we want to address in this conference include, but are not limited to:

– Does the notion of “genre” and, a fortiori, of “artistic genre” exist in the seventeenth-century United Provinces, either in the visual arts or elsewhere? If so, what general definitions and theories are used in the fields of rhetoric, poetry and theatre, and what is the relation to the conceptualization of genres in the visual arts (e.g. tragedies and history painting; pastoral poetry and pastoral painting, comedies and merry companies)?

– Can we speak of the invention of a genre? And how can we interpret hybrid genres? Is it useful for our understanding of artistic production to think of a hierarchy of genres?

– What did the development of new artistic genres mean for the artist, with regard to artistic practice, art technique, workshop organization and career possibilities? Can it be argued that some genres originate in the production of one particular artist only (‘one artist genres’ like the sottobosco paintings by Otto Marseus van Schrieck, for example) and how did such ‘niche genres’ disseminate (or not)? [We are interested in papers on individual artists, as well as comparative approaches.]

 – To what degree can we speak of idiosyncrasy and geographic specificity in relation to artistic genres (within and outside the Dutch Republic, on a large and small scale)? Can (and should) local differences be connected to historical, political, economic, social and religious, as well as artistic (literature, theatre, etc.) contexts? For example, can the interest in a specific theme be connected to sentiments of patriotism or the search for cultural affirmation, or to the increased wealth of the Dutch?

– How were the various artistic genres received during the Golden Age? Did the invention and development of certain iconographical themes and aesthetics contribute to the construction of the image of a ‘Golden Age’?

– In what manner have the genres been discussed by previous generations of art historians? What are the pitfalls of thinking in terms of artistic genres for art historical research? How should we approach the diversity of themes and the larger categories? How are exceptions treated (and have they been treated), such as one-time ‘untypical’ subjects by a master?

Practical Guidelines

Presentations will be 30 minutes long, followed by a discussion of 15 minutes. Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered for all presenters. Proposals (max. 300 words) and a CV (incl. list of publications) may be submitted to the conference organizers before 31 October 2018. You are welcome to contact the organizers if you have any questions concerning the conference and this call. Please consult the project website for more information about the project https://www.dutch-golden-ages.com/cfp-2019.

Conference Organizers

Drs Susanne Bartels, Prof. Jan Blanc, Dr Léonie Marquaille, Dr Marije Osnabrugge, and Dr Léonard Pouy.