Focus 7 : National traditions, circulations and identities in European art

The Titian, The rape of Europa
The Titian, The rape of Europa

Axis 7 of the Labex EHNE, ‘National traditions, circulations and identities in European art’, conducted by the Centre André Chastel, looks at art history in the Labex perspective of finding both elements of explanations and answers to the crisis Europe is currently going through. The art history it constructs must reveal the elements of unity as the factors of division which intervene in the complex making of a cultural European identity from the Middle Ages until today.

Themes and structuring notices

Three main themes have been defined within the axis: Geography, Historiography and Heritage. Within the scope of these themes eight structuring notices will tackle questions and aspects of European art history aiming to shed light on the issues presented above:


This theme will look into the geographies of artistic production and exchange, and the impact of geopolitical context on art history. The articles will address the way the artist approaches the European territory, inserting or instead disconnecting himself from some of its centres. They will look into the phenomenon of attraction of regional or urban centres, as well as into that of rejection and abandonment of other territories, in particular rural. They will bring about a reflection on the foundation of the identity of an artist within a Europe with moving borders and about the spatial dimension of sedentary or nomadic artistic ‘societies’.

Four structuring notices have been defined. Around the first one, ‘artistic geography’, secondary notices will present works about artistic commission and the art market, and the question of civic artists and court artists, with a symposium organized by Philippe Lorentz “Civic Artists and Court Artists (1350-1650). Case Studies and Conceptual Ideas about the Status, Tasks and the Working Conditions of Artists and Artisans”, which will take place from the 19th to the 21st June 2014 at the Centre Chastel. The second notice, ‘artists’ migrations’ will deal with the emigrations and movements of artists and its consequences on artistic production. The issue of exile will also be addressed, with for example the emigration of artists after the revocation of Edict of Nantes or that of the Jansenist artists in the 18th century. Another notice will deal with the circulation of artistic models, material and immaterial ones, and finally the notice ‘architectural Europe’ will be based on the project The Europeans: these architects that have designed Europe (1450-1950), a book dedicated to ‘European’ architects: those who, born and educated in a culture, carrying the legacy of one or several national traditions, have worked within one or others of these traditions, bringing new elements to it.


This theme focuses on a reflection about the auto-representation of Europe. It is about two main supports used in the course of that creation: the image that ‘talks’ and the speech around the image. The two are closely linked. The first one, of an iconic type – allegory, emblem, map, symbolic object – translates the speech, or uses it directly. Inversely, the second ‘orchestrates’ the image, linking it to a certain type of language: national, European or universal.

Three structuring notices will make up this theme. The first one, ‘Iconography of Europe from the 15th to the 20th century’ will include analysis of European maps, allegorical representations of Europe, or of the emblematic objects within the representations of Europe: comparisons with other continents will be established to get out of the internal European debate. The second structuring notice, ‘the exhibitions as a support of the diffusion of knowledge’, will be the theme of a symposium in 2015. Finally the third structuring notice will tackle the question of ‘the making of nationalist language in art history’. This section will be partly based on the results of three study days to be organized by PhD students of the Centre Chastel, following a call for themes. The first of these study days is currently being organised, and is entitled ‘Art critique and nationalism, French looks on European art in the 19th century’.


Finally the third theme of axis 7 will tackle questions relating to the European artistic heritage in a broad sense. Around the first structuring notice ‘heritage and artistic institutions’, secondary notices will discuss the increasing awareness of the need for heritage protection, and the emergence of the institutions dealing with heritage conservation and protection in Europe. There will also be a structuring notice on art libraries in Europe. Secondary notices on the library of Peter the Great will for example take place in this section, based on a collective publication co-financed by the Labex: Arts and Sciences of Europe in the library of Peter the Great, prepared under the scientific direction of Olga Medvekova (Centre André Chastel – CNRS). Finally a notice on the artistic impact of monasticism from the 10th to the 20th century will evoke the role of the religious orders in the artistic transfers and circulations in Gothic Europe and in the construction of rural and urban landscapes, as well as the place of religious architectural remains in modern and contemporary Europe. Two sessions on these themes will be presented at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds in July 2014, which will lead to the writing of secondary notices of the online encyclopedia as well.

The main actors of axis 7

Scientific director: Dany Sandron

Professor of archaeology and art history, director of the Centre André Chastel, Dany Sandron specializes in architecture and monumental art (11th-15th century). He works more particularly on the integration of buildings in a wider context to define the iconological dimension of the monument – unique mean to appreciate the whole extent of architectural choices – and the integration of monuments in their urban context. It is within that perspective that he looks at the architecture and decorations of gothic cathedrals.

Steering committee

  • Jean-Yves Andrieux – Referent, ‘Heritage’ theme – Professor of modern and contemporary architecture history. Research themes: history of contemporary architecture in France and in Europe, 19th-20th century; heritage history (monumental); urban history.
  • Christine Gouzi – Referent, ‘Geography’ theme – Lecturer in modern art history. Research themes: 18th century religious painting; the links between the religious, the political, and censorship; the links between art and Jansenism; 17th and 18th century religious engraving; religious artistic commission in the 18th century; painting and decoration 1900-14.
  • Olga Medvekova – Referent, ‘Historiography’ theme – Researcher CNRS. Research themes: modern architecture history; architectural theory ; architecture books, architecture libraries; architectural drawings and engravings. Cultural transfers in 17th and 18th century Europe. The History of art history. Russian art 18 and 19th century, Russian avant-garde.
  • Alexandre Gady – Professor of modern architecture history. Research themes: French architecture 17th and 18th century; urbanism in Europe in the modern era; history of Paris; heritage.
  • Jérôme de la Gorce – Director of research CNRS. Performance arts, art of the ephemeral, 16th-18th century.
  • Philippe Lorentz – Professor of medieval art history. Research themes: painting and figurative arts in the Middle Ages (illumination, stained glass, tapestry, sculpture). Main focus: the nature of sources on medieval art, artistic geography and mobility of artists, versatility of artists.
  • Isabelle Ewig Assistant professor, Contemporary art historian.
  • Axis coordinator  Elinor Kelif


Research notebook :