‘Visions of the North’: Reinventing the Germanic ‘North’ in Nineteenth-Century Art and Visual Culture in Britain and the Low Countries
A one-day international conference to be held at Compton Verney Museum, Warwickshire, UK: Friday 17th June 2016
Call for Papers
The aim of this conference is to develop new scholarly insights into the neglected transmission of Netherlandish and German art and thought in nineteenth-century British art and visual culture. It builds on new scholarship generated by an earlier conference, ‘Primitive Renaissances’, at The National Gallery, London (2014), which explored interest in Northern medieval and early Renaissance art and visual culture in later nineteenth-century Europe – in art, writings, collections and in identities of cultural heritage – potently symbolized in the expression of the so-called Northern artist ‘primitive’. ‘Visions of the North’ will develop and complement this first initiative. But its focus is specific ways in which nineteenth-century British art and visual culture, in dialogue with the Low Countries, especially Belgium, engaged with early Netherlandish and German art in shaping modern reinventions and perceptions of their ‘Northern’ identities. The routes by which interest in early Germanic art was developed and disseminated in nineteenth-century Britain and the Low Countries, its linking with German Romantic thought, the responses of British and Belgian collectors, audiences and readers, and the value of its cultural reception are still little understood. ‘Visions of the North’ will seek to bring new insights to the significance and impact of Germanic art in shaping interests, innovations and appropriations central to important public and private collections in Britain and the Low Countries. It will explore changing definitions and meanings of early ‘Germanic’ art, its reception in writings, collections, visual and design practices, and it will ask how responses to Germanic art shaped ideas of Victorian modernity and redefined narratives of ‘national’ character, nation-hood and the cosmopolitan.
The fine collections of Northern Renaissance art at Compton Verney Museum, built up in the late twentieth century, will provide enhanced contexts for the conference themes as well as raise issues about the encounter of nineteenth-century British and continental European collectors, writers and artists with objects from the Germanic ‘North’. Many of these works were dismantled and displaced in post-Reformation Europe, so no longer formed part of complex, intricate multi-part structures. Many were highly emotive and subjective in nature, thus not of immediate appeal to Victorian audiences. The conference will develop fresh knowledge about collections of German and Netherlandish art (whether paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures or the decorative arts); about the reception and transformation of such art in British and in their mirroring Belgian/Low Countries contexts; and about the revival of interest in, and engagement with, the medieval and early Renaissance religious and cultural legacies of Northern Europe. In these ways, the conference seeks to stimulate deeper understanding of how and why cultural and aesthetic processes, practices and values associated with the art of the Germanic North become implicated in new visions and identities in British and neighbouring Low Countries contexts in the long nineteenth century.
We are pleased to invite proposals for papers addressing nineteenth-century Britain/the Low Countries, especially Belgium, that focus on (but are not limited to) the following indicative areas:
· Historiographies of Germanic art revivals, renaissances and reinventions;
· Identities/geographies/meanings of ‘Netherlandish’ and ‘Germanic’ art;
· Taste, beauty and Northern Renaissance art;
· The impact of Germanic art, philosophy and German Romanticism;
· Religion, history, and the Germanic North in narratives of modernity;
· Private/public collecting of early Germanic works;
· Netherlandish and Germanic prints and the print trade;
· Germanic art travel, cosmopolitanism and art writing in Britain and the Low Countries;
· The role of Germanic art in cultural tourism and art markets;
· Artists’ responses to Germanic art;
· Germanic art in ‘national’ collections/discourses;
· Reframing Catholic/Protestant identities of Germanic Renaissance visual cultures;
· Portraits and the early Germanic North: identities of ‘national’ character and mood;
· Pre-Raphaelites and early Germanic art;
· Northern interiors: displays, interiors, homes;
· Staging/photographing the visual cultures of the Germanic North;
· Northern fakes, forgeries: reinventing/performing ideas of visual and material inheritance and taste;
· Translating the North; writing the North
· Reinventing ideas of a Germanic North in industry, craft and design;
· Reimagining/Imaging/Re-writing the Northern Gothic city in art, design and literary reception
Abstracts of 250-300 words (maximum) titled ‘Visions of the North’ should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 29th January 2016.
Please send abstracts in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format.
Please include the following details with your abstract: name and surname, affiliation, contact e-mail address and short biography.
Prof. Juliet Simpson, Coventry University, UK
Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein, University of York, UK
Dr Susanna Avery-Quash, The National Gallery, London
Dr Marjan Sterckx, Ghent University, Belgium
Proposals will be selected by peer-review and there will be a publication based on the conference papers.
This conference is generously supported by