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The ‘rediscovery’ of early Netherlandish art in the long nineteenth century

16 December 2020

Volume 133 (2020): Issue 3-4 (Dec 2020)

in Oud Holland – Journal for Art of the Low Countries

This special issue of Oud Holland offers new perspectives on the ‘rediscovery’ of early Netherlandish art in the long nineteenth century. It probes the intersection of creative and scholarly practices that helped to establish the importance of this corpus of artwork, produced between about 1420 to 1550 in the Burgundian (and later Habsburg) Low Countries, and to secure its status as a cultural landmark and a distinct field of art historical inquiry. Investigating topics ranging from Karl Schnaase’s pioneering writings, to Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin’s influential designs, to James Ensor’s radically unconventional imagery, the six essays in this volume explore specific cases in the appropriation, reception, interpretation, and promotion of early Netherlandish art – particularly painting – in a range of cultural practices and circumstances. Topics addressed include art criticism and exhibitions, architecture and design, painting and drawing, and the emergence of ‘reproductive’ photography. The essays expand upon such foundational studies as Francis Haskell’s History and its images (1993), which demonstrated how the surge of interest in the work of the Van Eyck brothers and their compatriots was inextricable from the evolving national identity and cultural politics of the modern nation-state of Belgium. While the Belgian context is central, several contributors enlarge the scope of inquiry with projects rooted in England and German-speaking regions, which forged strong intellectual and political ties with Belgium and engaged enthusiastically with its artistic heritage. Collectively, the essays advance new insights into the evolution of art history as a discipline, the complexity of artistic modernism(s) and revivalism(s); the role of nationalism and religion in nineteenth-century cultural life; and some of the myriad ways in which the artistic past and present inflect one.

Oud Holland – Journal for Art of the Low Countries Volume 133 Issue 3-4 (2020) (

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