‘Visions of the North’: Reinventing the Germanic ‘North’ in Nineteenth-Century Art and Visual Culture in Britain and the Low Countries 2016

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A one-day international conference 17th June 2016 Compton Verney Museum, Warwickshire, UK 

‘Visions of the North’ forms the second event in a trilogy of international conferences with related publications, academic and international museum collaborations. This trilogy was inaugurated in 2014 with the two-day conference organized by Professor Juliet Simpson (Coventry University, UK) on ‘Primitive Renaissances: ‘Northern European and Germanic Art at the Fin de Siècle to the 1930s’ (The National Gallery, London: April 2014)in collaboration with Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein (University of York) and Dr Susan Foister (The National Gallery), held in association with Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance (The National Gallery, London: 19 February – 11 May 2014). ‘Primitive Renaissances’  provided the launch of a new international network of scholars and museum curators. The focus is on exploring identities of ‘Northern’ European art, visual culture and cultural heritage as these were revived and appropriated in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to develop new cultural identities and narratives of national revival, modernism and cultural inheritance, including new exchanges between ideas of the ‘Gothic’, the artist as ‘Primitive’ and ‘modernity’ from the 1830s to the 1930s. The network encompasses early-modern, Renaissance and modern historians of art, collections, design, cultural memory and identity, criticism, comparative literature and musicology spanning the UK, US, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Finland, Norway and Russia.

The aim of this conference was to develop new scholarly insights into the neglected transmission of Netherlandish and German art and thought in nineteenth-century British art and visual culture. It builds on new scholarship generated by an earlier conference, ‘Primitive Renaissances’, at The National Gallery, London (2014), which explored interest in Northern medieval and early Renaissance art and visual culture in later nineteenth-century Europe – in art, writings, collections and in identities of cultural heritage – potently symbolized in the expression of the so-called Northern artist ‘primitive’. Visions of the North developed on and complemented this first initiative. It focused on specific ways in which nineteenth-century British art and visual culture, in dialogue with the Low Countries, especially Belgium, engaged with early Netherlandish and German art in shaping modern reinventions and perceptions of their ‘Northern’ identities.

To find out more about the conference including the featured Spotlight Exhibition visit:



Read the Visions of the North conference report by Dr Valentina Gosetti  dr-valentina-gosettis-visions-of-the-north-conference-report

Contact: juliet.simpson@coventry.ac.uk

Generously supported by:


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