Summer Course

11 days devoted to medieval and Renaissance sculpture

Summer Course for the Study of the Arts in Flanders

Everyone in the world can study the art of the Low Countries in books, on the internet and in numerous museums. But seeing, studying, and discussing this art in situ with colleagues in your own research field? That is only possible during the annual Summer Course for the Study of the Arts in Flanders. This edition focused on medieval and Renaissance sculpture. A brief report of eleven exciting days.

Third edition

From 18 to 28 June, sixteen researchers took part in the Summer Course. The programme of this third edition was organized by M and it is no coincidence that its theme was medieval and Renaissance sculpture. As a centre of expertise and as the driving force behind the network platform ARDS, this was an ideal occasion for the museum to bring international researchers together in Leuven. All of the sixteen participants were given the opportunity to present their own research and to discuss it with national and international specialists.

Cross-section of medieval sculpture

Introductions at Leuven City Hall and the participants’ research presentations were followed by an intensive programme in Leuven, Mechelen, Bruges, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Maastricht, Aachen, Liège, Zoutleeuw and Brussels. Activities not only included visits to churches and museums, but also exclusive museum warehouse tours, workshops, lectures, and debates. Every aspect of medieval sculpture was discussed, from a period ranging from 796 (with a visit to the Pfalz Chapel in Aachen) to 1566. The beginning of the Iconoclasm marked the end of the glorious period of late-gothic sculpture in the Low Countries. In addition to the range of materials (stone, ivory, alabaster, bronze, copper and wood), the participants also studied the various types of sculpture: religious (altarpieces, church interiors, saints, microsculpture), secular, funerary, etc. Different kinds of research methods and restoration techniques were also introduced. The lecture ‘The Sacred Theatre of Medieval Sculpture’ by Dr. Matt Ethan Kavaler (University of Toronto) provided an excellent synthesis of this edition of the summer course.

Medieval sculpture: a fruitful area of research

This summer course was not only a unique experience for the students. It was likewise a very fruitful event for the museum itself. Interest in medieval sculpture is growing among young researchers and specialists are being given a platform to share this expertise. This cross-fertilization and knowledge sharing is of crucial importance to M as a centre of knowledge and expertise and for the ARDS network. That is why the Summer Course will return to this theme in five years’ time, again organized by M. We are already looking forward to the next edition. 

The Summer Course 2017 was coordinated by the Flemish Art Collection and M-Museum Leuven.