CONF Sep 13, 2021

Imaginary Places, Real Territories (online, 7-8 Oct 21)

online / Galerie Colbert, Salle Vasari, 2 rue Vivienne 75002 Paris, Oct 7–08, 2021

Esther Guillaume, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

Imaginary places, real territories. Territorial imagery and the creation of Dutch identities (1579-1702)

Venue : Online and Galerie Colbert, Salle Vasari, 2 rue Vivienne 75002 Paris

Organization Committee : Suzanne Baverez (EPHE, Ens Paris), Carole Fonticelli (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Esther Guillaume (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne), Sarah Moine (Universiteit Leiden)

Scientific Committee : Stijn Bussels (Universiteit Leiden), Nadeije Laneyrie-Dagen (Ens Paris), Colette Nativel (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Contact :

Registration Zoom Link :

Covid information and regulations for on site attendees: In compliance with the French government’s regulations, Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne University requires all on site attendants to present a proof of full vaccination to our organizers before you can access the conference venue. If you have not been fully vaccinated, you will be asked to present a negative PCR or antigen test less than 72 hours old to access the conference venue.


In 1548, Charles V gathers the Seventeen Provinces into one political entity through the institution of the Burgundian circle ; thirty years later, the Dutch revolt shatters this reunion and institutionalises the rupture with the Union of Utrecht in 1579. Therefore, the creation of a national sentiment, following the terms of an active process of legitimation in the self-appointed United Provinces constitutes a significant issue, as its geographical borders constantly fluctuate throughout the Eighty Years war. This period hence witnesses the progressive definition of a geographical and cultural frame for the Dutch territory, intertwined with a continuous formulation process of local identities. Although it’s only during the XVIIIth century that the term vaderland starts to be commonly used as a national trope of the Dutch Republic – emanating from a preceding regional usage – the sole notion of territory is invested with political meaning as early as the XVIthcentury in the Netherlands. This symposium aims to study this phenomenon in the visual culture.

In a context of territorial expansion and economic growth, cartography appears as a key element to observe ideological projections and political claims. Metaphorical maps showing the Habsburg territory as a regal woman whose head is shaped by the Iberian Peninsula, or the well-known example of the Leo Belgicus, are evident components of a political rhetoric claiming the historical and cultural integrity for said territories. In the United Provinces, both scientific information and exotic fantasies are superimposed in the many nautical charts that paved the way to its economic hegemony. A close examination of Early Modern painting of interior scenes proves how the iconographic motive of the map became a relevant topos in Dutch visual culture ; hence, the visual apprehension of landscape, real or imaginary, retrospectively participates in the rhetoric of the territory in the Netherlands through a variety of genres : topographical views, composite landscapes integrating existing and fantasized elements, local adaptation of foreign monuments, depiction of local folklore that embodies a particular place or region … etc.
This rhetoric does not limit itself to a patriotic gaze towards its domestic territory but also integrates foreign or unfamiliar landscapes in the process of national assertion. Whether it morphs into the narrative of the Dutch Republic as a New Israël, a powerful antiquarianism encouraged by the many journeys of artists in Southern Europe or in the Eastern World or a polished exoticism of the New World, artists interweave and converge reality and imagination by summoning the historical, cultural and religious charge of these territories.
From the creation of a federal State in 1579 to the temporary disappearance of the Stadholderate in 1702, what role did the visual culture play in the political assertion of a national territory? How does the artist’s gaze on the territory, local or foreign, real or imagined, allows us to understand this rhetoric? How exactly are fantasized or real elements of foreign places integrated in a local visual discourse? What do these images reveal of the public who commissions, buys and looks at them? Within the process of national and territorial construction, how are these territorial perspectives integrated and part of the enrichment of the Dutch identity narrative?

Considering the variety of these issues, this symposium aims to shed light on the ways in which Dutch depictions of national and transnational territories participated in the formulation of a shared identity. Multidisciplinary discussions will allow us to examine the terms of territorial imagery in Dutch visual culture, and their links with the formation of a national myth in the Early Modern Dutch Republic.



Day one : October 7th 2021

10h00 : Accueil du public / Welcome

10h15 : Welcome word from the organizers


10h30 : Colette Nativel : Prof. dr. Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

10h50 : Stijn Bussels : Prof. dr. Universiteit Leiden

11h10 : Conversation et pause / Conversation and Break

Opening talk
11h40 : Boudewijn Bakker: Dr., Ex-Chief Curator of the Stadsarchief Amsterdam
Concentric Identities: Landscape and Patriotism in the 17th-Century Dutch Republic

12h10 : Conversation

12h30 : Pause / Break

SESSION 1 : Paradoxes de l’image du territoire : Entre Unification Territoriale et Affirmation des Identités Locales
Paradoxical aspirations : Territorial Unification vs. Local Affirmation

14h00 : Merlijn Hurx Dr., Assistant Professor, Universiteit Utrecht and Bram Vannieuwenhuyze Prof. dr. Universiteit van Amsterdam
The Van Deventer Anachronism: Maps of the Northern and Entire Low Countries from about 1540

14h20 : Benjamin van der Linde, Dr., Research Associate, Universität Hamburg
The Dutch Republic and the Two Frieslands. Mapping the north of the Netherlands and the role of early modern historiography

14h40 : Questions and conversation

15h00 : Sarah Moine, Ph.D. Candidate, Universiteit Leiden
Besieged City, Liberated Republic: the Siege of Leiden in arts and its symbolism

15h20 : Carole Fonticelli, Ph.D. Candidate, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Mapping the religious identity in North Brabant through the prism of Mary Magdalene

15h40 : Questions and conversation

16h00 : Conversation et clôture de la 1ère journée / Conversation and closing of 1st day

Day two : October 8th 2021

9h00 : Accueil du public / Welcome

SESSION 2 : Modalités d’appropriation du territoire : images et usages de l’environnement
Appropriating the territory: using and being part of one’s environment

09h30 : Esther Guillaume, Ph.D. Candidate, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Outside the city walls: Negotiation of urban and social space in Joost Cornelisz. Droochsloot’s paintings of the Biblical Pool of Bethesda

09h50 : Sarah Mallory, Ph.D Candidate, Harvard University
Ruinous Works: Willem Buytewech’s “Pleasant Places” Landscape Prints and the Dutch Ecological Imagination

10h10 : Lorne Darnell Ph.D. Candidate, Research Assistant, Courtauld Institute and University College of London
Climatology and Civic Identity in the Landscape Tradition of Seventeenth Century Haarlem

10h30 : Questions and conversation

11h00 : Pause / Break

SESSION 3 : Manipuler le réel, manipuler le présent : dialogues entre environnements immédiats et distants
Bridging space and time: merging immediate and distant environments

SESSION 3.1 : Reinterpreting the city : imagination and memory

11h20 : Norbert Middelkoop, Dr., Senior Curator of Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Amsterdam Museum; Curator of Old Masters, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem
The Amsterdam cityscape in the Golden Age: from representation tool to conversation piece

11h40 : Helen Hillyard, Acting Curator, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
Reading the Netherlands: Seventeenth Century Civic Memory and the Images of Pieter Saenredam

12h00 : Questions and conversation

12h20 : Pause / Break

SESSION 3.2 : Distant space, distant time

14h00 : Catherine Powell-Warren, PhD. Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Art History, Ghent University
From Hortus Batavus to the Dutch Hesperides: Agnes Block, Vijverhof, and the domestication of the exotic in the fashioning of identity

14h20 : Suzanne Baverez, Ph.D. Candidate, EPHE, Ens Paris
Naturalism, picturesque, exoticism, orientalism : insights on Dutch Italianate paintings

14h40 : Danielle Gravon, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Manchester
« Kandy is now Flanders »: Cartographic propaganda and the mapping of Dutch Ceylon

15h00 : Questions and conversation

15h30 : Koen Ottenheym, Prof. dr. Universiteit Utrecht
The imaginary country and buildings of the Ancient Batavians, as reconstructed by early modern scholars

16h00 : Questions and conversation

16h20 : Clôture du Colloque / Closing of the Symposium

CONF: Imaginary Places, Real Territories (online, 7-8 Oct 21). In:, Sep 13, 2021 (accessed Oct 18, 2021), <>.