The social life of early Netherlandish painting

De sociale context van de vroeg Nederlandse schilderkunst
Start - End 
2022 - 2025 (ongoing)



This project aims to identify the social networks in which Early Netherlandish painting originated and circulated in c. 1400-1550. Scholars all agree that the frequent commissioning and purchase of paintings by well-to-do individuals was a distinctive characteristic of Early Netherlandish painting, but there is no consensus on the position of those consumers in relation to factors such as urbanisation, elite formation, or state building. Conflicting interpretations of Early Netherlandish art as being dominated by urban bourgeois or noble courtiers co-exist in the literature. Both views provide a social view on patronage that is at once static and conceptually outdated. This project aspires to remedy this by investigating the claim that patronage and consumption of paintings as a form of conspicuous consumption became supercharged because of an exceptional lach of social distance between various new and old elites in the Burgundian-Habsburg Low Countries. IN the past decades, the data sets have become available that are necessary to test the relevant hypotheses. This will be realised through a comparative study of the profile of patrons and owners of paintings in Flanders, Brabant and Holland-Zeeland, three regions with distinct social, economic and political trajectories.