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22 Juni
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OSK PhD Progress Reports (Utrecht)
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25 April 2017

OSK PhD Progress Reports

Tuesday April 25th 2017, from 10.30-16.15

Utrecht, Drift 25 (entrance via via Drift 27), room 0.03


At the Progress Reports, PhD candidates give a presentation of the status of their research for a learned audience, among which the promotors and peer reviewers. After the presentation, the course of the research will be evaluated and discussed by a specialist in the field, who will provide the participant with useful feedback.


The presentation lasts max. 20 minutes. After the presentation, the referent will reflect on the research method (10 minutes). After that 15 minutes will be available for a group discussion.



10.30-10.45:       Coffee/tea



Annelies Abelmann (OU): “A genealogy of the “Bishop’s thrones” in Aix-la-Chapelle, Utrecht and Haarlem: Wilhelm Mengelberg (1837-1919) and his patrons”

Promotores: prof. dr. Paul v.d. Akker, prof. dr. Leo Wessels

Progress: ca 75%

Referent: prof. dr. Peter Nissen


Annelies Abelmann will present the outcome of her research on the lives of Wilhelm Mengelberg, his brothers and sons and their works produced in the studio’s in Cologne, Aix-la-Chapelle, Utrecht and Brühl. The patrons of Wilhelm Mengelberg and the commissioners of church furniture, such as the “thrones of Bishops” mentioned in the title, illustrate the network of these churchmen, artists and decorators, belonging to a certain ideology. It will also become clear why “Bishop’s thrones” is set between quotation marks.



Angela Bartholomew (VU): “The Mediation of Critique: Strategies of Subversion in the Exhibition of Contemporary Art in the Low Countries, 1985-1995”

Promotores: Prof.dr. Katja Kwastek, dr. Sven Lutticken

Progress: ca 60%

Referent: Dr. Eric de Bruyn


Angela Bartholomew’s dissertation concerns artistic strategies that developed in response to curatorial and institutional developments in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s in the Netherlands and Flanders. This period is marked by the diverse approaches artists take to alter the form taken by art, the context in which it appears, and the reception it generates. These strategies are made manifest in exhibitions, a selection of which forms the case studies upon which this research is ased. The works featured in these exhibitions are emblematic of those prevalent in the Netherlands and Flanders in the mid-1980s, from installations to art on television, from computer renderings to digital photography, and back again to sculpture and painting.


She will present on a chapter of her dissertation entitled, Subversive Retreat: The Inherent Protest in Murmuring. It is often written that the 1980s were marked by a return of object-based artworks (particularly of expressionistic painting and sculpture) and as a result are often characterized as ‘regressive’. But as the lineage of conceptual art has effectively proven, the extent to which the artworks embrace immateriality does not necessarily equate with their resistance to the art market. Further, practices that are critical, or political, in a world dominated by popular media, advertising, and MTV anything with an observable message was easily integrated and recuperated. In such a field, works that refuse to speak, therefore, can arguably be seen to attempt a modest form of resistance to mediatization and commodification.


12.15-13.15:       Lunch, offered by the OSK 



Thijs Hagendijk (UU): “Learning a craft from books. Reconstructions of a Dutch manual for gold- and silversmiths (1721)”

Promotor: Prof. dr. Sven Dupré

Progress: ca 30%

Referent: Dr. Erma Hermens


Only recently historians have started to investigate a rich body of artisanal technical texts (recipes and instructions on how-to-make things) written and published in early modern Europe (1500-1750). While it might be tempting to read these sources as unequivocal accounts of early modern artisanal cultures of making, recent scholarship has pointed out that the relationship between these texts and actual artisanal practice was in fact more complex. This study therefore investigates, simply put, how early modern people used texts to learn how to do things.


In the first place, authors and readers were heterogeneous groups of people with diverging motives to engage with technical texts. For instance, authors did not necessarily write texts intended for active use in the workshop, while readers did not necessarily employ them as such. In the second place, contemporaries considered it difficult, if not impossible, to articulate know-how, skill and practical experience in text, while the transmission of technical knowledge was already well-organized through an elaborate apprentice-system, most famously provided by the guilds. In short, writing about artisanal technique was by no means standardized practice and considered problematic, which is why historians have argued that the assumption of a non-compromised and linear relation between text and practice is no longer tenable.


By taking this premise as a point of departure, this study investigates the relation between textual and material practices more closely by looking at how early modern people (could have) used texts to learn how to make things. To this end, a small selection of primary sources has been made in the artisanal fields of glass, paint and metal production. Through the combined efforts of textual analysis and historical reconstructions, this study will provide in a better understanding of the complex interplay between textual and material practices and contribute to the critical assessment of historical sources that are currently being used in the fields of art history, conservation and restoration.



Mariana Pinto (UU): “Early scientific analysis of historical pigments during the long 19th century”

Promotor: Prof. dr. Sven Dupré

Progress: 15%

Referent: Dr. Esther van Duijn


Pigment analyses can be considered nowadays as a fundamental step in the conservation  of artworks. In the first place, they may inform on the degree of deterioration of a polychrome surface and could therefore influence the decision-making process for its conservation treatment. Moreover, pigment analyses could tell about the history of an object by reporting on possible past interventions, such as overpaints. They also provide valuable information about the technical aspects of artworks; for example, the presence of a certain pigment or the use of a specific technique.


However, this interaction between chemical analyses of historical pigments and conservation practice has only become common practice during the twentieth century. What happened during the nineteenth century? Who were the first pioneers carrying out pigment analyses? What were their motivations and expectations?  Have these experiments influenced conservation practice? If so, was this interaction the same in different countries? These questions remain unanswered by the present bibliography. It is unclear to what extent contemporary restorers resisted or benefited from this chemical knowledge related to the characterization of pigments. How much did they know about the chemistry of paints when treating a polychrome surface? Were they acquainted with the pigment analyses performed during their time? These questions are especially relevant, since the knowledge restorers possessed about the composition of paintings influenced directly into the type of treatment they performed.


The aim of this research is to investigate to what extent did chemical analyses of artists´ pigments influence art conservation treatments of painted surfaces during the long 19th century.


14.45-15.00:                        coffee/tea



Sieger Vreeling (RUG): “The core of architecture”

Promotores: Prof.dr. Wessel Krul, prof. dr. Auke van der Woud

Progress: ca 75%

Referent: Dr. Merlijn Hurx


To this day, surveys primarily describe Dutch architecture on the basis of its aesthetic-visual characteristics, or 'style'. Although style is very important, this approach is too one-sided. What is needed, is another concept of architectural history; a historiography not mainly based upon the surface characteristics of buildings, but one that also evaluates the core of architecture. Around 1900 the building industry changed drastically: there was an increasing demand for new, larger building types with a complex architectural brief, built and equipped with new materials and services. The first goal of my research is to show the increasing complexity of the design and building process around 1900. This complexity manifested itself in the new building types and materials. Buildings designed for a specific purpose barely existed before 1850, except for houses, churches and town halls. From then on there was an increasing demand for new, larger building types like department stores, hospitals, lunatic asylums, laboratories, and slaughterhouses. What's more, for hundreds of years buildings had primarily consisted of wood and stone; a flood of new building materials changed this from 1850 onwards. The second goal of my research is to demonstrate the importance of these changes for Dutch architectural historiography of the twentieth century – the stylistic approach is not enough.


15.45-16.15:       Discussion


16.15:                   Drinks




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