Across discourses and media, early modern Europeans encountered advice about and models for interacting with the built environment around them. Architects scattered brief instructions for designing a viewer’s experience throughout their treatises, poets narrated imagined tours of house and estate, and artists who composed prints and paintings of buildings located viewers at particular vantage points. Simultaneously, philosophers and scientists debated human perception of the physical world at large - for example, explanation first by Aristotelian Scholastics and then mechanistic philosophers of how particle vibrations acted upon the human senses to create mental images of objects. Such architectural, philosophical, and scientific discussions had their echoes in self-reflective viewing of buildings by travellers who described in their journals the buildings that they visited.

This conference investigates the terms, criteria and questions by which early modern viewers were expected to and/or did interact with the built spaces around them. In so doing, it merges independent yet overlapping strands of scholarly inquiry: for instance, architectural and cultural historians have examined uses of spaces and a patron’s rationale behind a design, while art historians who follow Michael Baxandall’s notion of the ‘period eye’ and literary historians who discuss the imagined tours of poets have analyzed concepts underpinning early modern viewing. These and other strands of inquiry are brought together by an international, interdisciplinary group of speakers examining case studies encompassing England, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Portugal during the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. 

For the conference programme and registration form, please see the conference website.1


9.30 Registration

10.00 Welcome, Kimberley Skelton (Durham University)

10.05 Keynote

  • Maurice Howard (University of Sussex):Buildings Observed in Early Modern England

11.30 Session 1, Chair: Dario Tessicini (Durham University)

  • Chriscinda Henry (McGill University/Villa I Tatti): The Palace Underworld: Recreational Space and Visual Pleasure at the Castello del Buonconsiglio,Trent’
  • Laura Fernández-González (University of Lincoln): Perceptions of Ephemeral and Permanent Architecture in Habsburg Lisbon
  • Jan Clarke (Durham University): The Uses of Architecture on the Seventeenth-Century French Stage

2.00 Session 2, Chair: Tom Wynn (Durham University)

  • Elizabeth Petcu (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München): Anti-Anthropomorphism in the Architecture of Joseph Boillot
  • Edmund Thomas (Durham University): Viewing the Antique, Visualising the Baroque: Jean Marot’s Engravings of the Temples at Baalbek
  • Susan Klaiber (Independent Scholar, Switzerland): Inside Out: Situating the Theatine Interior

4.00 Session 3, Chair: Kimberley Skelton (Durham University)

  • Stefano Cracolici (Durham University): TBC
  • Olivia Horsfall Turner (Victoria and Albert Museum): “Remembrance of Things Past”: Buildings and the Perception of History and Place in Early Modern England
  • Freek Schmidt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam): Historical and Other Sensations: Viewer Responses to Amsterdam Buildings in the Eighteenth Century

5.30 Wine Reception

  • 1.

    Registration deadline: Oct 26, 2016