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19 October 2022 - 19 October 2022

5:00PM - 6:00PM

Online via Zoom.

  • Free

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Professor Ingrid Falque (Université catholique de Louvain) will speak about praying and meditating with and through images at this inaugural meeting of the IMEMS research strand 'Spiritual Writings from the Low Countries (1200-1550): Context, Influence and Transmission'.

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Young man holding prayer book at St Gudula. The Metropolitan Museum, NY

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What did it mean to pray and to meditate with and through images in the late Middle Ages? In this lecture dedicated to early Netherlandish paintings, Professor Ingrid Falque will explore several artworks in which devotees (both lay and religious persons) are depicted in prayer:

By studying the visual strategies of these paintings alongside contemporary spiritual texts of the Low Countries, I will bring to light the strong convergences between late medieval pictorial and textual conventions related to spiritual progression. More precisely, in the first part of the lecture, I will try to demonstrate that the structuring of the pictorial space in paintings with devotional portraits leads to a complex interplay of differentiation, gradation or fusion between the sacred and secular zones and figures of the composition, a fact that is usually underestimated by art historians. In addition, I propose to explore some paintings with portraits of Carthusians monks in order to investigate the role of the cell as the solitary locus of Carthusian image-based meditative practices during the late Middle Ages. The Carthusians conceived the cell as a solitary but also a secret place, the only one in which they can achieve their purpose on life, that is contemplation of God. In order to facilitate their meditative practices, they could use devotional images. After focusing on Carthusian texts dealing with the importance of the cell in Carthusian spirituality, I consider the use and function of such images by Carthusian monks in their cells, in order to show that they can be seen as images of the monks’ soul ‘metaphorised’ into a cloister wherein they experience mystical union with God.

About the speaker:

Ingrid Falque is a Research associate (chercheuse qualifiée) of the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS, Belgium) and Professor of history of medieval art at the Université catholique de Louvain. She is also co-director of the Centre for Early Modern Cultural Analysis (GEMCA, UClouvain) and member of the Royal Academy of Archaeology of Belgium. Her research focuses on the history, theories and practices of images, the relationships between art and spirituality and the attitudes towards devotional imagery and visual experience in Northern Europe during the late Middle Ages. She published several articles and edited volumes on these topics. Most recently, she published an article on the relationship between images and mysticism in the manuscripts of the Utrecht charterhouse (in « Mystic unterwegs », edited by B. Nemes) . Her book Devotional Portraiture and Spiritual Experience in Early Netherlandish Painting was published by Brill in 2019.