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CFP – Activation. Staging Strategies of Mobile Artworks in the Early Modern Hispanic World 

International and interdisciplinary conference
Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History Rome

16 – 17 February 2023
Deadline: June 20, 2022

Conception and scientific organisation: Dr. Sven Jakstat, Dr. Johannes Gebhardt, Prof. Dr. Tanja Michalsky

The temporary activation of mobile works of art and cult objects can be traced back to antiquity and continues to play an essential role in the communication of religious truths and manifestations of political power today. The inclusion of mobile artworks in ritual ceremonies is closely linked to terminologies of animation, evidence, mediation, performativity, presence and presentation, staging, and vivification, which have shaped the discourse on images. These terms have developed different connotations in each of the various humanities disciplines and now embody manifold dimensions of meaning.

Powerful examples that can be subjected to theoretical and critical analysis from an interdisciplinary perspective can be found, for example, on the Habsburg-dominated Iberian Peninsula in the seventeenth century. With the Spanish viceroyalties of the Kingdom of Naples and New Spain, Iberia is the conference’s geographical focus.

This conference seeks to analyze how objects from the sacred realm, like those carried in processions, and those employed in a profane context like courtly ceremonials, achieve their effective power during their temporary activation. Its emphasis is on processional figures such as pasos or imágenes de vestir, relic and cult image presentations, but also ephemeral fountain installations or festive architecture. In this context, disciplines often neglected in humanities discourse, such as engineering (and thus aspects of production aesthetics), will also be considered.

Contributions may explore (but are not limited to) the following questions:
To what extent can performative or ritual actions integrating artworks be reconstructed? What were the theological and political ideas underlying these staging strategies? What role did music, singing, light, and olfactory effects play in the presentation of these objects? What mechanical devices were used to create special effects, and how did they work? What was the role of different social groups, such as artists, clergy, secular elites, and laypeople? To what extent was the temporary activation of such artworks considered during production, for instance, in the choice of materials or the integration of specific mechanical devices? What consequences did awareness of their temporary activation have for the objects’ reception outside their ritual use?

Presentations dedicated to concrete case studies, as well as theoretical or critical examinations of the concepts mentioned above, are both welcome. This interdisciplinary conference seeks contributions from scholars of art history, history, literature, musicology, philosophy, and theology, among others.

Please send proposals not exceeding 350 words for twenty-minute presentations, together with a short CV and list of publications of no more than two pages to Raffaele Rossi (rossi@biblhertz.it) by 20 June 2022. The organizers will provide accommodation, and travel costs may be reimbursed.


Join us on Zoom at 5:00 pm (UK) on 28 June for the Maius Workshop’s new event. To attend, please register here: https://durhamuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8Oq_nipwQGeLrsXVTip-Bg

As in previous meetings, this workshop will feature short informal presentations followed by discussion. Our line-up includes:

Stephanie Bernard, ‘Juan Sánchez Cotán’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’ and the Taste for Ancient Models’. Stephanie is PhD candidate in Art History in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Her thesis, funded by a Zurbarán Scholarship, explores the influence of Flemish and Netherlandish art in the oeuvre of Juan Sánchez Cotán. Her research benefits from the inter-disciplinary nature of the Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art and from a collaboration with the Spanish Gallery at the Auckland Project.

Julia Vázquez, ‘Towards a History of the Curator’. Julia is Curatorial Fellow for the Marisol Bequest and Curator of the Marisol Paper Project at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. She received her PhD from Columbia University in 2020 and has just completed a book manuscript titled “Velázquez: Painter and Curator.”

Elisabetta Maistri, ‘In the folds of art historiography. The parallel lifes of Julián de Villalba and García and José Nicolás de Azara, two aragonese diplomats in the eternal city’. Elisabetta is an art historian in fieri, specialising in Iberian art history (16 th -19 th cent) and history of European art collecting. She holds a BA from the Università degli Studi di Padova (2012), two MA from the Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia (2015 & 2017), and a PgDip in art registrations from the Istituto Europeo del Design (2016). Since 2018 she is a doctoral student in History of art at Durham University thanks to an AHRC Northern Bridge Consortium scholarship.

Our sessions are open to all, and research in early stages of development is especially welcome.

ARTES CEEH Travel Scholarship Report: Daen Palma Huse

Daen at the Royal Alcázar of Seville during his research trip

The ARTES-CEEH Travel Scholarship supported my travels to Spain in July 2021. I conducted research in three different cities – Madrid, Seville and Vitoria-Gasteiz. This primary research directly benefited the preparation of my MA thesis, and progressed into further research at PhD level at the UCL History of Art department starting in 2022.

My initial proposed project with the title ‘The Intersection of Rhetoric Imagery and Text in the Context of Andean Religion 1700-1750: The Case of “El Rivero”’ had developed by the time I was able to travel to Spain with the ARTES-CEEH Travel Scholarship, many Covid restrictions still having remained in place. With the support of Dr Emily Floyd at UCL and her connection to an archivist at the Museo de Arte Religioso, Arzobispado del Cuzco, Peru, it became clear that the inscription on a painting signed by Gabriel Ugarte Pérez, 1754, was most likely a nineteenth-century addition rather than an original inscription. My original research aim to investigate “El Rivero” as mentioned in this inscription in Spanish archives, therefore haltered. That said, my interest in the rhetoric around the corruption of morality within the context of the Spanish Colonial period remained.

I started preparing my research trip to Spain, which was to include visiting the Archivo Histórico Nacional in Madrid, and mapped further museums and collections that would be of interest to my research in relation to the Viceroyalty of Peru, its relations to Spain in the colonial period and beyond. Due to looming Covid restrictions at the time and for fear of not being able to travel at all, I decided to leave earlier than planned and, by doing so, extended my research stay to a month. I connected to archivists at the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid as well as the Museo Fournier in Vitoria-Gasteiz and decided quickly that a trip to the Archivo General de Indias in Seville would also be beneficial.

Manual printing machine, Heraclio Fournier S.A., late 19th century, Museo Fournier, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, photograph by Daen Palma Huse

The casta paintings in the collection of the Museo de Américas in Madrid led me to look further into casta paintings more generally, and to search for reference points in both visuals and writing that pertained to my research around ephemera, the motifs shown on these, and their impact. Narrative dimensions could transport a subliminal moral message to someone immersed in the pleasurable task of engaging with these objects.

Between archival finds and consulting secondary literature and started to write on my MA thesis, in which I dealt with the potential moral connotations that could be inherent in motifs, the nature of their use, and their dimensionality. My thesis concentrated mainly on the nineteenth century, as a lack of existing research in the field became apparent. I found colonial legislation and discourse to continue impacting heavily on the production of visuals in the early postcolonial era of Republican Peru. The research I conducted in Spain was fundamental to contextualise this aspect of my work in terms of production processes and object historiography. Furthermore, my visit allowed me to further my understanding of print production processes – for example through seeing print presses first-hand that would be used to produce some of the ephemera that were exported from Spain to the Americas.

Letters, Heraclio Fournier S.A., late 19th century, Museo Fournier, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, photograph by Daen Palma Huse

Overall, this research trip contributed essential research findings to my MA thesis, part of which I have already presented at the Association for Art History Annual Conference 2022 as well as at the Graduate Symposium in the History of Art & Architecture, University of Oregon. I was also lucky to be able to complete an online course in Latin American palaeography at the Biblioteca Municipal de Lima, Peru at the same time as staying in Spain – which greatly facilitated my ability to read the documents I encountered in the archives during my research. The ARTES-CEEH Travel Scholarship and the palaeography course worked in perfect synergy: the palaeography course took place by night, and during daytime I was able to put my newly learnt skills to use.

I am extremely grateful to the ARTES-CEEH for the support and look forward to base future research projects as part of my PhD research at UCL on connecting themes.

Transgression And Liminality In Iberian And Latin American Art: Emerging Researchers Symposium, Durham University, 7-8 July 2022

Venue: Room PCL054, The Palatine Centre, Stockton Road, Durham, DH1 3LE

On 7 and 8 July Durham University’s Zurbarán Centre will host its second student-led symposium showcasing innovative doctoral research in Iberian and Latin American art and visual culture.

The theme of this year’s symposium is transgression and liminality, with presentations exploring a wide variety of periods and geographies. The 19 papers, drawn from 14 academic institutions, range from the bounding of traditional artistic movements to the confronting of the borders of mind and body, of religion, and of societal norms. The presentations will address important questions relating to art and politics, the circulation of art and artefacts, visual traditions across different media and periods, identity issues, cultural heritage, and modernity. The symposium also features an invited keynote address by Dr Laura Fernández-González from the University of Lincoln.

The student presentations and the keynote lecture will be followed by opportunities for questions and answers. The aim is to stimulate interdisciplinary conversations and connections among emerging and established scholars engaged in the field of Iberian and Latin American art.

Organised by Durham University doctoral students, the symposium will be held as a hybrid event for in-person attendance in Durham or virtual attendance via Zoom.

Booking is essential and in order to register, either to attend in person or via zoom, please click here: https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/zurbaran/news-and-events/events/transgression-and-liminality-in-iberian-and-latin-american-art-emerging-researchers-symposium-day-1/

Please click here for the full agenda

Zurbarán Centre Spanish Gallery Collection Research Fellowships, 1 October 2022 and 30 June 2023

Deadline:  20 June 2022

The Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art at Durham University is seeking to recruit two research fellows to undertake research into the collection of the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland, starting on 1 October 2022 and 30 June 2023.

The two fellowships are affiliated with the Zurbarán Centre and Durham University’s Residential Research Library Scheme. The appointed fellows will be part of Durham University’s research community and have privileged access to the Spanish Gallery. Generously funded by the Centro de Estudios Europa Hispánica (CEEH), each fellowship includes a monthly stipend of £2,100. An allowance for research-related travel will be available on request.

For more information and to apply, please click here: https://www.durham.ac.uk/research/institutes-and-centres/zurbaran/news-and-events/news/collection-research-fellowships/

Maius Workshop Meeting: Identity (Part 2), 24 May 2022, Online, 5pm (BST)

Join us on Zoom at 5:00 pm (UK) on 24 May for the Maius Workshop’s new event. To attend, please register here: https://durhamuniversity.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4NafoeRSTPyyQMwVII-TKw

As in previous meetings, this workshop will feature short informal presentations followed by discussion. Questions will be accepted in English and Spanish.

Our line-up includes:

Isabel Escalera, ‘Creating a Feminine Identity Through Jewellery’. Isabel holds a degree in Art History from the University of Valladolid, Spain, and a Master’s degree in “Europe and the Atlantic World: Power, Culture and Society”. She is currently doing her PhD at the University of Valladolid and her research topic is jewellery in the Modern Age.

Mario Zamora, ‘Vicente Carducho: ¿Natural de Madrid?’. Mario is a PhD Candidate at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, where he is doing research on the painter and treatise writer Vicente Carducho. He is interested in early modern Spanish artistic literature and its relationship to painting.

Our sessions are open to all, and research in early stages of development is especially welcome.

2022 Juan Facundo Riaño Essay Prize Winners

ARTES is delighted to announce the winners of the 2022 Juan Facundo Riaño Essay Prize. With exceptionally strong submissions, this year we awarded the prize plus two runner-ups!

Winner of the 2022 Juan Facundo Riaño Prize 2022: Patricia Manzano Rodríguez, PhD candidate, University of Durham

The Upper half of Las Meninas

Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656) is one of the most iconic artworks in the Western world, and the literature on the painting is extensive. However, it was not until 1943 that the paintings depicted in the background were identified as copies by Juan Bautista Martínez del Mazo after Rubens’s Pallas and Arachne and Jordaen’s The Judgement of Midas for the Torre de la Parada. This essay offers a new interpretation of the presence of Mazo’s copies in Las Meninas. It will be argued that the copies were included to promote Velázquez’s art and—as an extension—his atelier, in particular Mazo as his son-in-law.   

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, Las Meninas, 1656, oil on canvas. 320,5 x 281,5 cm, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado [P001174].

Joint runner-up: Mónica Lindsay-Pérez, PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh

Racism (or Anti-Racism?) in El negro que tenía el alma blanca?

El negro que tenía el alma blanca (“The black man with the white soul”) was a silent black and- white film produced in 1927 by the director Benito Perojo (1894-1974). It was an adaptation of the 1922 novel of the same name by Alberto Insúa (1883-1963), which told the story of a black, Cuban-born dancer, Peter Wald, who falls in love with his white Spanish dance partner, Emma. Due to her unshakeable racism, Emma cannot bring herself to reciprocate Peter’s feelings. The little scholarship that exists on this film has generated debate. Some scholars, such as Jo Labanyi, have asked whether Perojo was trying to expose the fictitiousness of race, making a subversive criticism of contemporary race relations in Spain. Others, such as Eva Woods Peiró, have labelled the film “shockingly racist”. This essay presents the first scholarly dissection of this debate. In order to get closer to the intention of the director, it enacts a thorough comparison of the original novel and the film adaptation. It thus exposes what is lost and what is gained when text is transformed into image; when literature becomes visual culture. But, more than that, it ultimately reveals the thin line between stories that criticise racism and stories that entrench it.   

El negro que tenía el alma blanca film poster (1927)

Joint runner-up: Laura Feigen, PhD candidate, Courtauld Institute of Art

Meeting in the Margins of the Barcelona Haggadah: Marginalia as a Nexus for Ritual Tradition and Interreligious Tensions in Fourteenth-Century Catalonia    

Crawling through the margins of the Barcelona Haggadah (British Library Add MS 14761) is a menagerie of animal, human, and hybrid drolleries whose open mouths and riotous actions interrupt and act out the liturgical text. While such drolleries are taken seriously as allegories or social criticism in medieval Christian art, they are usually dismissed by scholars of Jewish art as mere decoration or appropriations of Christian motifs. Though the marginal motifs in the Barcelona Haggadah do derive from the Christian pictorial tradition, the intimate dialectic they share with the text and central miniatures reflects a specifically Jewish understanding of the Passover narrative in which they are situated. Given the increase in Jewish persecution and interreligious tensions in fourteenth-century Catalonia, the marginalia’s liminal position between Jewish and Christian cultures prompts critical questions regarding their interpretation at the seder table and their function within the Barcelona Haggadah. Bringing to the fore four marginal motifs as yet unexamined in relation to the Barcelona Haggadah—the ape, hunter, knight, and goblet—this paper explores the marginalia as a nexus for Jewish ritual traditions and interreligious tensions between Jews and Christians in fourteenth-century Catalonia. In doing so, this paper presents a fresh method for examining Hebrew marginalia, arguing that they are multivalent, interreligious symbols that poignantly reflect the religious and socio-political landscape shaping the Jewish experience in this period.

The Barcelona Haggadah, British Library Add MS 14671, c. 1325-50. © British Library Board

Congratulations to our ARTES CEEH Scholars of 2022!

ARTES is delighted to announce the winners of their 2022 scholarships, with tremendous gratitude to CEEH for their support. Reports of many previous scholars can be found here


Irini Picolou, Durham University: £877.52

Female Martyrdom in The Altarpiece of Saint Engracia by Bartolomé Bermejo

The Altarpiece of Saint Engracia by Bartolomé Bermejo, c. 1474. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Bartolomé Bermejo (active 1474–98), a painter in the Crown of Aragon, produced the Altarpiece of Saint Engracia (1472–74) in Daroca. The altarpiece has since been dispersed, with the central panel and Arrest of Saint Engracia displayed in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and San Diego Museum of Fine Art, and the Flagellation in the Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao. Only the predella, the Crucifixion, and the Imprisonment remain in the Museum of Daroca. The objective of my study is to trace the altarpiece’s production for a thesis chapter which examines female sanctity in relation to Engracia’s martyrdom.

Kirk Patrick Hilario Testa, Courtauld Institute of Art: £1000

Tracing the Spanish Roots of the Santo Niño de Cebu

The Santo Niño de Cebu. Photo: Kirk Patrick Hilario Testa

My Courtauld MA dissertation focuses on the contemporary articulations of a sacred object called the Santo Niño de Cebu. This Flemish-style statue was brought to the Philippines in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan. Current scholarship on the Santo Niño de Cebu focuses on what happened after Spanish-Filipino contact. My goal for this research project is to trace the history of the object in the Spanish context before it was brought to the Philippines.


Nausheen Hoosein, University of York: £3000

From Umayyad Madinat al-Zahra to Almohad Seville: The Reuse of Architectural Spolia in al-Andalus during the 12th century

Capitals, 10th Century, Marble. La Giralda, Cathedral of Seville (formerly the minaret of the Almohad Mosque of Seville, completed 1198), Seville, Spain (Photo: Nausheen Hoosein)

The plunder and re-use of Umayyad spolia, particularly capitals, in Almohad architecture remains understudied- although much has been written about the re-use of antiquities in the West, the same cannot be said of Islamic Spain. This project deploys an integrated text- and material-based analysis to examine two significant Almohad sites, La Giralda and Alcázar, in Seville. The project situates the sites within the renewed field of medieval Islamic spolia studies and proposes that the Almohad reuse of Umayyad marble was not a practical or triumphant one, but instead a deliberate programme of religious and political assertion of Almohad rule.


Paula Martín Rodríguez, Universidad de Sevilla: £3000

Isidro Gálvez: a botanical artist from 18th-century Spain

Drawing of an Embothrium emarginatum by Isidro Gálvez (Photo: Archivo del Real Jardin Botanico, FONDO REAL EXPEDICION BOTANICA AL VIRREINATO DEL PERU)

My thesis examines the figure of Isidro Gálvez, a Spanish botanical artist who dedicated his life to illustrating the Flora peruviana et chilensis, one of several Spanish botanists and draughtsmen in the project. They produced a great number of botanical illustrations that are mainly kept in the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid. To complete my research and achieve a holistic vision of the work of Gálvez and his colleagues in an expedition to Peru and Chile I need to conduct my research in several English archives.

CFP – Hispanic Art in British Regional Collections: History, Display, Research Conference, hosted by the Zurbarán Centre, Durham University, 22–23 September 2022

Deadline: 27 May 2022

British regional galleries are extraordinarily rich in holdings of Hispanic art. County Durham alone has the largest concentration of Spanish artworks anywhere in the world outside Spain. In addition to Francisco de Zurbarán’s cycle of Jacob and his Twelve Sons at Auckland Castle, significant holdings can be found at The Bowes Museum, Ushaw College, Durham Cathedral, Durham University, Raby Castle, and the recently established Spanish Gallery. The County’s collections, which cover nearly 500 years, are wide-ranging, from the Galilee Chapel Altarpiece in Durham Cathedral through to Dalí’s lithographs of the Bible at St John’s College. Further afield, Hispanic artworks can be found throughout the country in galleries, museums, and country houses.

Yet, the problem remains that majority of these works are largely unknown outside academia and so have been comparatively under-researched. This two-day conference seeks to raise them to greater public prominence by shifting attention away from collections in well-established locations in or around major cities such as London and Edinburgh and encouraging new research into Hispanic art in a regional context.

On the one hand, the aim is to explore the history and politics of collecting and displaying Hispanic art. It asks how collectors, patrons, and curators have, both historically and in recent years, shaped narratives of Hispanic art. How do we account for the motivations and strategies that underpin the acquisition and display of Hispanic art? What has been the impact of these collections on the regional, national, and international contexts?

On the other hand, the conference seeks to examine individual artworks and artefacts from regional collections, evaluating their significance and trajectory from the original context of artistic production up to their relevance for audiences today. Beyond a possible focus on familiar artworks, such as Zurbarán’s Jacob and his Twelve Sons, how might the study of less explored artists and iconographies advance a more complex understanding of artistic production and cultures of display? How might we work collectively to develop and share knowledge of Hispanic art?

Presentations may relate to (but are not limited to) the following themes:

  • The politics of collecting and displaying Hispanic art 
  • Curatorial practices
  • Faith and devotion
  • Pain and suffering
  • Rituals, ceremonies, pilgrimage
  • Empire, colonialism, race
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Cultural relations and transfer
  • Centre and periphery
  • Decolonization agendas
  • Attribution
  • Materiality   

The conference will offer delegates a unique insight into two of County Durham’s most important collections, with the first day held in the Spanish Gallery in Bishop Auckland, and the second, at Ushaw College, Durham.  The conference is organised by Andy Beresford and Claudia Hopkins (Zurbarán Centre for Spanish and Latin American Art, Durham University). Please send titles and 250-word abstracts to the conference administrator, Barbara Jackson (zurbaran.centre@durham.ac.uk) by 27 May 2022.