CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


GOTTLER, Christine
Artists in Groups: Articulating (Collective) Identities in Early Seventeenth-Century Haarlem

Session 5 Self-Awareness or Self-Affirmation

Universität Bern 


While there is an extensive body of art historical literature on the shaping and displaying of individual artists’ identities, the role of groups in the formation of collective and subjective identities has been much less explored. Further developing recent interdisciplinary studies on early modern strategies of secrecy as a means of both inclusion and exclusion, my paper investigates the ways in which the engraver and painter Hendrick Goltzius made use of alchemical and hermetic imagery to articulate and affirm his artistic ambitions as a learned and knowledgeable painter. Goltzius, who was celebrated for the protean quality of his art, inserted his self-portrait into three of his most extraordinary works, all three of them alluding to his virtuoso skills in different media and techniques: the engraving of the Circumcision made after Dürer’s woodcut (1594); the ‘pen work’ on canvas created for Rudolf II in Prague (c. 1606), and the lesser-known large canvas painting in the Kunstmuseum Basel (1611). It was only in the sixteenth century that the Italian word ‘gruppo’ (deriving from ‘groppo’, i.e. ‘knot’) began to acquire a new meaning as a cluster of people or things; and it was, remarkably, none other than Goltzius’s close friend Karel van Mander who first used the Netherlandish term ‘groep(p)e’ in that ‘modern’ sense, that is to say for groups of figures in a painted composition. Taking as an example Goltzius’s painting in Basel – his largest composition, which presents two seemingly opposing groups, one related to virtue, the other to vice – my paper will investigate the complex articulations of self-affirmation and self-awareness in a framework of both artistic and scientific imagery and imagination. It will be argued that a focus on collective and group identities (both real and imaginary) allows for an alternative and more historical approach to the formation and affirmation of artists’ identities in the early modern period.

GOTTLER, Christine 


Habilitation, Freie Universität Berlin, 2006

Ph.D., University of Zurich, 1991


Professional Appointments:

Professor of Art History, University of Bern, 2009-present

Assistant / Associate / Full Professor of Art History, University of Washington, Seattle, 1998-2009


Selected Recent Publications:


Last Things: Art and the Religious Imagination in the Age of Reform (Turnhout: Brepols, 2010).

Die Kunst des Fegefeuers nach der Reformation. Kirchliche Schenkungen, Ablass und Almosen in Antwerpen und Bologna um 1600 (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 1996).


Edited Books:

Sites of Mediation: Connected Histories of Places, Processes, and Objects in Europe and Beyond, 1450–1650, with Susanna Burghartz, Lucas Burkart (Leiden: Brill, 2016).

Trading Values in Early Modern Antwerp, with Bart Ramakers, Joanna Woodall (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

Religion and the Senses in Early Modern Europe, with Wietse de Boer (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

Spirits Unseen: The Representation of Subtle Bodies in Early Modern European Culture, with Wolfgang Neuber (Leiden: Brill, 2007).


Online Publication:

Reading the Inventory: The Possessions of the Portuguese Merchant-Banker Emmanuel Ximenez (1564-1632) in Antwerp: (2014).


Book Chapters:

 “Sites of Art, Nature and the Antique in the Spanish Netherlands” (with Tine Meganck), in Embattled Territory, ed. Sven Dupré et al. (Ghent: Academia Press, 2015), 333-369.

“Trading Values in Early Modern Antwerp,” with Bart Ramakers, Joanna Woodall, in Trading Values in Early Modern Antwerp, 8-37.

“Wit in Painting, Color in Words: Gillis Mostaert’s Depictions of Fires,” in Trading Values, 214-237.

“Druon Antigoon, der unzerstörbare Koloss: Städtischer Raum, antiquarische Kultur und Künstlerwissen im Antwerpen des 16. Jahrhunderts”, in Platzanlagen und ihre Monumente, ed. Alessandro Nova, Stephanie Hanke (Berlin, Munich: Deutscher Kunstverlag, 2014), 141-172.

 “Imitation as Animation: The Multiple Lives of a ‘Vesperbildt’ attributed to Quinten Massys,” in The Secret Lives of Artworks, ed. Caroline van Eck et al. (Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2014), 152-175.

“The Place of the ‘Exotic’ in Early Seventeenth-Century Antwerp”, in Looking East: Rubens’s Encounter with Asia, The J. Paul Getty Museum, ed. Stephanie Schrader (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), 88-107.

“The Alchemist, the Painter, and the ‘Indian Bird’: Joining Arts and Cultures in Seventeenth-Century Antwerp. Adriaen van Utrecht’s Allegory of Fire in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels”, in Synergies in Visual Culture / Bildkulturen im Dialog. Festschrift für Gerhard Wolf, ed. Manuela De Giorgi, Annette Hoffmann, and Nicola Suthor (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2013), 499-512.

“The Temptation of the Senses at the Sacro Monte di Varallo,” in Religion and the Senses, 393-451.

“‘Bootsicheyt’: Malerei, Mythologie und Alchemie im Antwerpen des frühen 17. Jahrhunderts: Zu Rubens’ Silen in der Gemäldegalerie der Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Wien”, in Erosionen der Rhetorik? Strategien der Ambiguität in den Künsten der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Valeska von Rosen, culturae, vol. 4 (Wiesbaden: Harassowitz, 2012), 259-301.

“Rubens’s ‘Ecce Home’ and ‘Derision of Silenus’: Classical Antiquity, Images of Devotion and the Ostentation of Art,” in Image and Imagination of the Religious Self in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Reindert Falkenburg, Walter Melion and Todd Richardson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), 327-481.


Recent Major Grants:

Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, May-June 2016

Kunsthistorisches Institut, MPI, Florence, August 2015

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, August 2014

Getty Research Institute, January-June 2014

CASVA, Washington, June-August 2013