Online Conference: ‘The Afterlife of Medieval Sculpture’, 7th Annual Ards Conference, 3, 4 & 10 December 2020, 13:00 – 18:00 (CET)

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 consists of Dr. Jessica Barker (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Dr. Peter Carpreau (M Leuven/Ards), Dra. Marjan Debaene (M Leuven/Ards), Drs. Lloyd De Beer (The British Museum) and Dra. Michaela Zöschg (Victoria and Albert Museum).

We had a record number of proposals and were able to select a fascinating and diverse program in 4 large thematic sessions, with 25 speakers, over 3 conference days via Teams, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

See the programme here.

Register for the conference 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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