Call for Papers – Heraldic Imagination in the Netherlands, 1500-1800

10 vrij
10 juli 2020

Panel at the Historians of Netherlandish Art Conference (Amsterdam, 2-5 June 2021)

Originally hereditary symbols of the medieval noble elite, from the late-14th century onwards crests, coat of arms and blazons were increasingly altered, added to and custom made for members of other, emancipatory social groups, most notably the urban elites. Merchants, for example, formed a fast growing, powerful professional segment of early modern European society – especially in the Netherlands. The increasing awareness of their personal and collective identity is evident in their visual branding and representation: not only in commissioned portraits, but in the adaptation of crests and devices which were publicly visible on a variety of media and platforms. In fact, heraldic imagery embodies much more than an individual’s or corporate coat of arms. The powerful tradition of heraldic emblems is reflected in the use of blazons and crests by literary and artistic groups and institutions, such as chambers of rhetoricans, or painters’ associations. Other, closely related visual emblems which act as identity markers are for example printer’s devices, trademarks, logos, monograms or even calligraphic signatures.

This session aims to explore how early modern individuals and groups branded themselves through their heraldic presentation on contemporary social media and materials. We will focus on early modern branding through personalised heraldic imagery, which may have been displayed on wooden and stone shields in churches and houses; on painted portraits; in stained glass and windows; engraved in silver, gold, precious stones and glass work; embroidered on linen; pressed on book bindings; hand-painted in manuscripts like alba amicorum (friendship books) and on ceramics – indeed, on every material and (semi-)public medium thinkable.

Papers may focus on various aspects of the heraldic imagination, discussing how this visual personal and collective branding functioned in the Netherlands between 1500 and 1800.
How innovative was the transformation of heraldic culture from the late medieval age into early modern times? How and why did it take place? Who were responsible for designing new coats of arms? In other words, how did this visual language of the self in everyday surroundings develop and how, in time, did this multimedia manifestation of personal and collective identities undergo a process of formalisation, authentication and the creation of types and stock images?

This session welcomes curators and scholars to address pictorial and material elements of heraldic culture in the context of art history, material history, emblem history, and heritage studies.

Panel chair: Marika Keblusek (Leiden University),

Please send proposals of 300 words with a short biography (100 words) to the panel chair. Papers should be max. 20 minutes long, and present new research, inviting lively discussion.

Deadline: 10 July 2020. Applicants will be notified by 1 August 2020.


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