Network, Events, Publications

Detail_St_Barbara_Hans_memling,_trittico_di_san_gacomo,_05_1 durer2Woestijne27

International Network: Reinventing Northern European Art and Visual Culture from the 1830s to the 1930s: Nation, the ‘Primitive’ and Cultural Identity


‘Visions of the North’ forms the second event in a trilogy of international conferences with related publications, academic and international museum collaborations. This trilogy was inaugurated in 2014 with the two-day conference organized by Professor Juliet Simpson (Coventry University, UK) on ‘Primitive Renaissances: ‘Northern European and Germanic Art at the Fin de Siècle to the 1930s’ (The National Gallery, London: April 2014), in collaboration with Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein (University of York) and Dr Susan Foister (The National Gallery), held in association with Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance (The National Gallery, London: 19 February – 11 May 2014). ‘Primitive Renaissances’  provided the launch of a new international network of scholars and museum curators. The focus is on exploring identities of ‘Northern’ European art, visual culture and cultural heritage as these were revived and appropriated in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to develop new cultural identities and narratives of national revival, modernism and cultural inheritance, including new exchanges between ideas of the ‘Gothic’, the artist as ‘Primitive’ and ‘modernity’ from the 1830s to the 1930s. The network encompasses early-modern, Renaissance and modern historians of art, collections, design, cultural memory and identity, criticism, comparative literature and musicology spanning the UK, US, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway and Russia.



‘Primitive Renaissance’: Northern European Art, Nation and Cultural Identity from the 1830s to 1930s: a multi-author book based on the National Gallery conference, ‘Primitive Renaissances’, forthcoming: Ashgate Farnham/New York, 2017. Edited by Juliet Simpson, with Introduction by Juliet Simpson and contributions by Jeffrey Chipps Smith, Susanna Avery-Quash, Jeanne Nuechterlein, Colin Cruise, Jan Baetens, Clément Dessy, Elizabeth Emery, Laura Morowitz, Juliet Simpson, Marja Lahelma, Inga Rossi-Schrimpf, Tessel Bauduin, Adriana Bontea and Robert Vilain

This multi-author book is the first to explore the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century fascination with Northern European Renaissance artists as so-called ‘primitives’ in a period spanning the 1850s to the early 1930s. It presents original new scholarship and perspectives on a rich, yet neglected history of Northern European Renaissance art and visual culture in the collecting, art and cultural imaginaries of the European nineteenth century to the1930s, to uncover its stories and appropriations in art, monuments, museums, texts and their reception as ‘primitive’ and in competing period constructs of national and cosmopolitan identity. In fifteen chapters by leading international scholars and curators of art history, history and comparative culture, the book shows that interest in early Renaissance Northern art and visual culture emerges as central to many of the period’s most urgent debates: about ownership of cultural patrimony, ideas of artistic ‘genius’ and inheritance; about new concepts of the modern, beauty and individual perception; feeling and expression and about art’s value in shifting conceptions of ‘nation-hood’ , national and cultural identity across four closely interlinked ‘Northern’ European contexts: Britain, France, Belgium and Imperial Germany.

Past Conferences/Events

‘Primitive Renaissances’, The National Gallery, London (11-12 April 2014), organized by Juliet Simpson in collaboration with Susan Foister, The National Gallery, London and Jeanne Nuechterlein (University of York), inaugurating an international network and forthcoming book edited by Juliet Simpson (Ashgate: Farnham and New York, 2017), supported by an award from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

‘Visions of the North: Reinventing the Germanic “North” in Nineteenth-Century Art and Visual Culture in Britain and the Low Countries’, a one-day conference at Compton Verney Art Gallery and Museum, UK (17 June 2016), organized by Juliet Simpson in collaboration with Dr Susanna Avery-Quash, The National Gallery, Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein, University of York, Professor Marjan Sterckx, Ghent University: supported by awards from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, Ghent University and Coventry University; in partnership with Compton Verney Art Gallery, The National Gallery, London and the University of York.

Publication in planning


Update: Call for papers extended deadline to 31 December 2016

‘Gothic modernisms’, The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 29-30 June 2017: a two-day conference organized by Professor Juliet Simpson (Coventry University, UK) and Dr Tessel Bauduin (Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture, University of Amsterdam, in collaboration with Dr Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff (Finnish National Gallery/Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki), Dr Jan Baetens, Radboud University, Nijmegen and Dr Jenny Reynaerts, the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 

Keynote Speaker (confirmed): Professor Elizabeth Emery, Montclair State University, NJ, US


Network Members

Juliet Simpson (Lead: Coventry University, UK)

Jeffrey Chipps Smith (University of Texas at Austin)

Susanna Avery-Quash (The National Gallery, London)

Jeanne Nuechterlein (University of York)

Susan Foister (The National Gallery, London)

Marjan Sterckx (Ghent University, Be)

Tessel Bauduin (University of Amsterdam)

Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff (National Finnish Gallery, Ateneum Art Gallery, Helsinki)

Jan Dirk Baetens, Radboud University, Nijmegen, NL

Stephanie Buck (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden)

Colin Cruise (Aberystwyth University)

Clément Dessy (University of Oxford/Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Elizabeth Emery (Montclair State University, NJ, NY)

Laura Morowitz (Wagner College, NY)

Marja Lahelma (University of Edinburgh/University of Helsinki)

Inga Rossi-Schrimpf (Musée Fin de Siècle; Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels)

Adriana Bontea (University of Oxford)

Robert Vilain (University of Bristol)

Dorothy Price (University of Bristol)

Frances Fowle (National Galleries of Scotland/University of Edinburgh)

Tico Seifert (National Galleries of Scotland)

Jennifer Graham (University of Plymouth)

Paola Cordera (Politecnico di Milano, Milan)

Till-Holger Borchert (GroeningeMuseum, Bruges, Be)

Ulrike Müller (Ghent University/University of Antwerp, Be)

Rachel Sloan (Courtauld Institute of Art/University of London)

Cory Korkow (Cleveland Museum of Art, OH, US)

Maria Golovteeva (University of St Andrews)

Nicola Sinclair (University of York/National Gallery, London)

Matthew Potter (Northumbria University)

Valentina Gosetti (University of Oxford)

Paul Rowe (University of Leeds)

Dominique Bauer (KU Leuven, Be)

Per Buvik (Bergen University)

Christian Heck (Musée d’Unterlinden, Colmar)

Richard Woodfield (University of Birmingham)

Stephen Wildman (University of Lancaster)