Call for Papers: The Afterlife of Medieval Sculpture, 7th ARDS annual colloquium, London (2-3 December 2020), deadline 30 July 2020

Ards 7th annual colloquium on Current Research in medieval and renaissance sculpture
in collaboration with the Courtauld Institute of Art, the V&A Museum and the British Museum

The 7th ARDS annual colloquium, which celebrates new research in the field of renaissance and medieval sculpture will focus on the theme of the Afterlife of medieval sculpture.  At the Ards conference in 2017 in Paris we already touched upon the theme of the Collecting of Medieval sculpture and at Ards 2018 in Utrecht, Michael Rief provided us with a very interesting keynote on the repurposing of (amongst others) some Mechelen Christ child statues. This year we want to explore the theme of the ‘nachleben’ (afterlife) of medieval sculpture in more depth.  The idea of ‘nachleben’ is to be understood in a broader sense than the pure Warburgian interpretation. Not only the ‘nachleben’ of the image, but also that of the object is of interest for the study of sculpture.

How were medieval and late-gothic sculptures used, understood, copied, altered, re-used, recycled, repurposed and treated (or mistreated) in the centuries after the moment of their production? From the medieval period until the present, Gothic art has undergone shifts in taste and appreciation. Nowadays prices for medieval art are soaring at auctions but in the 17th and 18th centuries many churches and cloisters were refurbished in the style of the period and medieval art and furniture had to make room. And e.g. in the 1790’s many churches were stripped of their medieval furniture (if extant) and they were sometimes sold by the pound if not thrown away or burnt. Even in the fifteenth century, some sculptures made in the earlier Middle Ages were restored, remade, cleaned and polished, whereas others were neglected. The conference committee invites all researchers to submit papers focusing on the use, the copying, altering, faking or studying of medieval art but also in papers that talk about the material history of medieval sculpture, restoration policies in certain periods or regions, neogothic projects or even 19th and 20th century sculptors who were inspired by the medieval period.

Would you like to submit a paper for this conference? Your proposal can be:

  • Of an art-historical, historical as well as a historiographical, technical or scientific in nature. Multidisciplinarity is encouraged.
  • Case studies as well as papers providing a broader view and/or of a more reflective nature are welcomed.

Priority will be given to speakers presenting new research findings and contributions relevant to the specific conference theme. Submissions that are not selected for presentation in plenum, can still be taken into consideration for a (digital) poster presentation.

There are no fees, nor reimbursement of transport and/or lodging costs for the selected paper speakers. The organisation will publish acta colloquia in postprint after the conference.

*Disclaimer: Should there arise problems or new restrictions regarding travel to London due to a possible new wave of COVID-19, the conference will be held online via webinar presentations (and if so unfortunately without the in situ visits). Therefore the final program will only be compiled and communicated in the autumn of 2020.

How to submit your proposal:

  • Write in English. Presentations must be given in English (with a ppt presentation) • Include a short CV.
  • Max. 500 words for abstracts (excl. authors name(s) and contact details).
    E-mail to Marjan Debaene via info(a)

Call for papers Deadline: 30.07.20
Successful applicants will receive a notification by 31.08.20
Questions or more information? Please contact Marjan Debaene via

The conference committee consists of:

  • Jessica Barker (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
  • Peter Carpreau (M Leuven/Ards)
  • Marjan Debaene (M Leuven/Ards)
  • Lloyd De Beer (The British Museum)
  • Michaela Zöschg (Victoria and Albert Museum)

More information can be found here.

Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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