Conference: Beyond the Alps. Artistic Exchanges between the Low Countries and Italy in Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture

10th Annual Ards Conference
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In 2026 M Leuven will organise an exhibition on the cultural exchange between the Low Countries and Italy in the field of sculpture. The Low Countries have always been a place where painting flourished. That this region, especially in the 16th century, also had a significant school of sculptors is often forgotten. Influenced by humanist ideas and the political, economic, and religious upheavals of the time, Netherlandish sculptors abandoned the Gothic style: a new sculpture influenced by the Italian artists was born. With their oeuvres, technical mastery and creativity, the scultori fiamminghi left their mark all across Europe, from the Scandinavian countries to the Spanish court, creating their own Italianate style.

The project aims to highlight the importance of the artistic links between Italy and the Low Countries during the Renaissance, and more specifically in the field of Netherlandish sculpture in Italy. Based on a selection of emblematic works – including wooden, alabaster, marble, and bronze sculptures, as well as drawings and engravings, often produced in Italy itself, the exhibition aims to provide, for the first time, the most comprehensive overview possible of the history of 16th-century sculpture from the Low Countries and its connection with the Italian Renaissance.

In the wake of this exhibition the 10th Ards Annual Conference will focus on the interaction and interplay between these two regions in medieval and Renaissance sculpture. The conference will take place in Rome, at the Academia Belgica and the Royal Netherlands Institute Rome (KNIR), from Tuesday 7 November to Thursday 9 November 2023.

The conference programme consists of lectures, in combination with a choice of excursions. Click here to download the conference programme.

Sol (the Sun), Johan Gregor Van Der Schardt, C. 1570 C. 1581. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Sol (the Sun), Johan Gregor Van Der Schardt, C. 1570 C. 1581. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

M Leuven
Ards – the platform for medieval sculpture
Academia Belgica, Rome
The Royal Netherlands Institute Rome (KNIR)