The intelligent hand, 1500-1800

Sixth Early Modern Symposium

Saturday, 8 November 2014

10.00 - 17.45 (with registration from 09.30) , Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art.

Painted self portrait of a man in a convex mirror

Parmigianino (1503-1540), Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, 1523/4. Oil on panel, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Speaker(s): Yannis Hadjinicolaou (Freie Universität Berlin / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Carlton Hughes (University of South Carolina-Upstate), Anna Sgobbi (Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität, Munich), Nicolas Misery (Université Lumière Lyon 2 / Laboratoire de Recherche Historique en Rhône Alpes (LARHRA)), Claudia Steinhardt-Hirsch (Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich), Tamar Mayer (University of Chicago), Temenuzhka Dimova (Université de Strasbourg), Johanna Scherer (Hochschule für Bildende Künste Braunschweig), Jungyoon Yang (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Catherine Hunt (University of Bristol), Joaneath Spicer (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore), Nina Samuel (Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin / Image Knowledge Gestaltung. An Interdisciplinary Laboratory Cluster of Excellence Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).

Ticket/entry details: £16 (£11 students, Courtauld staff/students and concessions) BOOK ONLINE

Organised by: Austeja MacKelaite and Camilla Pietrabissa

The hand - the “instrument of instruments” - has fascinated artists, scientists and philosophers from Aristotle onwards. Its remarkable dexterity, anatomical complexity, and the ability to manipulate were seen as defining features distinguishing humanity from animality, as well as indicators of the superiority of the former.

Taking as its starting point the sixteenth-century humanist Dominicus Lampsonius’ claim that ‘the Netherlander / Has intelligence in his hand’, this one-day Symposium will investigate the hand both as the means and the subject of representation in Early Modern art and visual culture.

Participants are invited to explore the hand as the locus where the relations between manual labour and ingenium, workshop and academy, the ‘low’ and the ‘high’ are defined and negotiated in the production of artistic value and new knowledge. Traditionally held to be subordinate to the creative drive of the mind, the artist's hand may also be considered as an autonomous agent, manifesting itself on the surface of artworks through individual style, the manipulation of media or as an iconographic motif


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