Revisiting Rediscovery: Early Netherlandish Art in the Long 19th Century
Deadline: June 1, 2017
Conference: Ghent, May 24 – 26, 2018
To submit a proposal for consideration, send a 250-word abstract, a 100-word bio, and a 1-2 page CV to by the above deadline. Papers must be based on ongoing research and unpublished. Participants must be HNA members at the time of the conference.
Francis Haskell famously argued that the “rediscovery” of early Netherlandish painting in the nineteenth century was central to the notions of history and culture that undergirded the rise of the modern nation-states of Belgium and the Netherlands. This view has been enriched by recent scholarship on the medieval and Renaissance revivalist movements that took hold in both countries from about 1840 through the early years of the twentieth century. Yet the complex relationship between artistic and literary practices of the period and the emergence of a distinctly northern European history of art remains largely unexamined, and its implications unacknowledged.
As Léon de Laborde, Camille Lemonnier, Émile Verhaeren, Hippolyte Fierens-Gevaert, and, slightly later, Johan Huizinga published pioneering investigations into the world of Van Eyck, Memling, and Rubens, a similar retrospective spirit animated the artistic imagination. Painters from Henri Leys to Fernand Khnopff and writers from Charles De Coster to Maurice Maeterlinck embraced northern precedents as a key source of inspiration for works that were at once contemporary and rooted in a rich regional heritage.
This panel aims to explore the interplay between the visual arts and the nascent field of art history in Belgium and the Netherlands. It seeks twenty-minute papers which address how artists, critics, historians, and others working in the Low Countries and abroad developed diverse perspectives on their past that continue to shape our understanding of the subject. Papers addressing specific instances of revivalism and historicism are welcome, as are broader studies of historiographical and literary trends, which offer insight into how one era may mediate and even define our vision of another.

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