Appel à communication : « Likeness and kinship. Artistic families from the sixteenth- and seventeenth century portrayed » (Anvers, 22 Juin 2015)

Otto Venius, Portrait de l'artiste entouré de sa famille, 1584In conjunction with the exhibition Rubens in private. The master portrays his family (Rubens House Museum, 28/03/2015 – 28/06/2015), the Rubenianum organizes a symposium on the early modern family portrait on Monday 22 June 2015.

Portraits of artists’ families or family members will be given special attention, but images of families which played a different role in the business of art, such as those of art dealers and collectors, also belong to the subject of study. Both contributions focusing on the Southern Netherlands and those providing a relevant comparison through case-studies from a broader European context are welcomed.

A first avenue of inquiry concerns the formal and iconographic characteristics of this special subcategory of the portrait genre. How do portraits of families from this particularly visually literate group differ from those of other segments of the population who often took a less active interest in painting ? Can certain trends be discerned in the visualization of families in artistic circles ? In imagining their own families, do artists loosen the strict demands of decorum or do they adhere to pictorial traditions such as the heraldic position of husband and wife ? In other words, do artists stretch the restrictive conventions of the genre in portraits of their own families, or do they conform entirely to the image to which their patrons aspire ?

A second line of research concerns the conditions of display, exchange and inheritance of such portraits. What was their intended audience ? Where in the home were they displayed ? What is the ‘social life’ of these pictures? A related issue is the use of portraits of family members in broader workshop practice, for example when they sit for a tronie or appear in assistenza in larger composition or in a portrait historié.

Papers of 25 minutes in Dutch, English, French and German are welcomed.
Please send an abstract of maximum 250 words and a brief bio to
Deadline for submissions is March 1. Applicants will be informed of selection on March 15.

The day will conclude with a guided tour of the exhibition.


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