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CFP: Symposium on 16th-century Netherlandish Drawing

In conjunction with the major exhibition and publication, Tales of the City: Drawing in the Netherlands from Bosch to Bruegel—a collaboration between the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Albertina Museum, Vienna—the CMA is convening an international symposium on sixteenth-century Netherlandish drawing in Fall 2022.

The Netherlandish cities of the sixteenth century—Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Leiden, Haarlem, ’s-Hertogenbosch, to name a few—provided some of the most remarkable and fertile urban settings in history for art patronage and creation. In the course of the sixteenth century, drawing in the Netherlands developed from a medium used primarily for copying and recording compositions to an active design process. This was partially a result of the many demands placed on urban artists, who were called upon to create not only paintings and sculpture, but also to visualize the wide-ranging, multi-media adornment of civic, religious, and domestic spaces such as guild halls, churches, private homes, and even city streets during events such as joyous entries. The great diversity in techniques, functions, and types of Netherlandish drawings that come down to us today elucidate the connections between drawing and printmaking, stained glass, decorative arts, and other media. They often defy strict classifications of type such as preparatory, presentation, or finished works. Indeed, many drawings straddled multiple categories in practice and played various roles in processes of translation and communication in light of shifting market and audience expectations in cosmopolitan urban milieux.

We invite proposals for papers that address the multifaceted purposes of drawing in the context of northern and southern Netherlandish cities in the 16th century. Proposals are invited from advanced graduate students, scholars, curators, and conservators on themes including but not limited to the development and purpose of drawing techniques; the role of drawing in proposing innovative subject matter; in negotiating contentious terrain (political, religious); and in communicating and collaborating between artists, craftsmen, and civic bodies. Papers will be limited to 20 minutes in length and presented in English.

Abstracts must be submitted electronically to, no later than June 20, 2022. Presenter invitations will be extended by July 11. Travel grants will be available on a limited basis for those without travel or professional development funds. Please indicate if you anticipate applying for a travel grant.

This symposium is funded by a generous grant from the Robert Lehman Foundation.

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