Emily Pegues

PhD student

Thesis title: Jan Borreman and Sculptural Practice in the Burgundian Netherlands c. 1479-1520

Supervised by Prof. Susie Nash

Funded by

  • Mrs Charles Wrightsman Scholarship
  • Friends of the Courtauld Scholarship
  • Beatrice Del Favero Scholarship
  • Guilford Foundation Scholarship
  • Mrs Jane Wrightsman Scholarship

Netherlandish sculptor Jan Borreman, active in the Burgundian Netherlands c. 1479-1520, carved major devotional sculpture for churches throughout Europe for an elite and diverse patronage. Based in Brussels, Borreman and his workshop produced a wide range of objects—wooden models for bronze casting, large-scale crucifixions and saints, and complex monumental retables—for the dukes of Burgundy, illustrious militia-civic groups, and patrons outside the Burgundian Netherlands. His distinctively expressive manner of carving combined virtuosity with intricate detail, matching that of the greatest Netherlandish painters and making the Borreman ‘brand’ of carving influential among his contemporaries, who called him ‘die beste meester beeldesnijder,’ ‘the best master sculptor.’

Seen in context of comparison with his contemporaries in quality, influence on other artists, patronage and wide geographic appeal, Borreman is a sculptor of considerable importance. Yet the same practices which made him a sought-after sculptor and brought him renown in his time—specialised production in collaboration with other artists—have obscured his impact on 15th c. art and today he is primarily known, mainly to specialists, for a single signed and dated work, the masterly Martyrdom of St George retable. Wartime destruction of archives and displacement of works from their original settings, difficulties of attribution, and various other factors have also contributed to his relative scholarly neglect.

Through a case study of Jan Borreman’s career, this dissertation examines late 15th c. sculptural practice in the Burgundian Netherlands, defining it broadly to encompass not only the woodcarver’s work with mallet and chisel, but also the social networks in which he functioned, and the literary, political, and religious activities which were inextricably intertwined with the business of sculpting. Alert to the historiographies of Borreman, Belgium, and the wider field of sculpture, the project considers issues of collaborative artistic production in Borreman’s models for metalwork; social networks, politics, war and devotion in the Martyrdom of St George retable; and the international appeal of Brussels woodcarving through works made for export outside of the Burgundian Netherlands.


Courtauld Institute of Art

  • PhD candidate, 2012-present (expected 2023)
  • MA History of Art, 2010-2011: Commemoration, Salvation and Splendour: Artistic Production and Patronage in France and the Burgundian Netherlands, c. 1380-1520, with Professor Susie Nash (Distinction). Dissertation: ‘”Come, come and be crowned”: The enamel triptych and French royalty, c. 1498-1538’ (Distinction)

Sweet Briar College

  • BA, 1996-2000: double-major cum laude in History of Art and in Spanish. Kathryn Haw Prize in Art History

Research interests

  • Northern Renaissance art
  • Woodcarving, stone carving and bronze casting
  • Collaborative process among artists
  • Depictions of tools and materials
  • Artist signatures and self-representation
  • Models for sculpture

Recent Publications

Conferences & Lectures

  • New Light for the Black Prince: Recent technical investigations of the tomb effigy in Canterbury Cathedral,’ Gothic Spirit exhibition conference, ‘Restoring the Past: Destruction, Restoration and Preservation of Medieval Art and Architecture,’ Luhring Augustine in association with Sam Fogg, 25 January 2020
  • ‘New Technical Research on the Tomb of Mary of Burgundy,’ 6th Annual Ards Colloquium, M – Museum Leuven, 27 November 2019
  • ‘Sculpture and Supplication: The Clay Tablet and the Cleveland Carthusians,’ exhibition study day, The Charterhouse of Bruges: Jan van Eyck, Petrus Christus, and Jan Vos, The Frick Collection, 17 December 2018
  • New Technical Research on the Tomb of Mary of Burgundy,’ with Dylan Smith, National Gallery of Art, 12 February 2018
  • ‘Facture and Image: the tomb effigy of the Black Prince,’ with Jessica Barker and Graeme McArthur, Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, 11 January 2018
  • ‘An art historical and scientific analysis of the tomb effigy of the Black Prince in Canterbury Cathedral,’ with Jessica Barker and Graeme McArthur, Canterbury Cathedral, 16 November 2017 (a brief video overview of our research)
  • ‘Carving for Casting: Jan Borreman’s Wooden Models for Bronze,’ Annual Third Year Postgraduate Symposium, Courtauld Institute of Art, 9 June 2017
  • ‘Cut, Carve, Cast, Clean: Jan Borreman’s Wooden Models for Bronze Sculpture,’ National Gallery of Art, 31 October 2016
  • ‘Days of destruction: Leuven,’ National Gallery of Art, 31 July 2016
  • ‘Meanwhile in the North… Jan Borreman’s wooden models for bronze sculpture,’ Renaissance Society of America conference, Boston, 31 March 2016
  • ‘This is that sweet rose… Art and authority at Fontevrault,’ Sweet Briar College, 30 April 2015
  • ‘”To die for an ideal:” Three wars, one retable, and the foundations of a Belgian history of art,’ Religion, Art and Conflict conference, Courtauld Institute of Art, 6 December 2014
  • ‘Crossbows, Clerics and Dead Duchesses. The Netherlandish Woodcarving of Jan Borreman, c. 1479-1520,’ inaugural lecture, Tower Villas Sculpture Talks, Arlington, 17 September 2014
  • ‘Jan Borman’s compass: Artistic identity and the rhetoric of skill in early Netherlandish sculpture,’ Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference on ‘Skill,’ Ioannou Centre, 4 April 2013
  • ‘Jan Borman, Rogier van der Weyden, and the Crossbowmen of Leuven,’ Lille-Leuven-London Conference, Park Abbey, 18 March 2013
  • ‘Art for the Abbey: Louise de Bourbon and Female Authority at Fontevrault,’ Feminist Art History Conference, American University, 10 November 2012


  • ‘The Tomb of Mary of Burgundy,’ guest speaker for Dr Douglas Brine’s undergraduate course on ‘Art, Gender, and Patronage at the Court of Burgundy,’ Trinity University, San Antonio, 20 April 2021
  • ‘The Tomb of Mary of Burgundy,’ guest lecturer for Professor Susie Nash’s graduate Northern Renaissance Workshop, Courtauld Institute of Art, 8 March 2021
  • Have a Closer Look: No one has seen this since 1377,’ guest lecturer for Dr Christian Carr’s museum studies course, Savannah College of Art and Design, 23 October 2020
  • ‘Sculptural Practice in the Burgundian Netherlands: Two Case Studies of Jan Borreman,’ seminar lecture and in-gallery clase práctica, Escuela del Prado seminario ‘Nuevas perspectivas en el estudio del art neerlandés,’ Museo del Prado, 28 January 2020
  • Exhibition study day site visit, The Tomb of Mary of BurgundySixth Annual Ards Colloquium, Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk, Bruges, 28 November 2019
  • Museum staff development, Our Gallery: Medals Handling Session, National Gallery of Art, 12 and 13 November 2019
  • Museum docent workshop: Dutch Golden Age, National Gallery of Art Education Department, 19 February 2019; 4 November 2015
  • Food for Thought seminar: ‘Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice: Reflections of Abundance in the Dutch Golden Age,’ National Gallery of Art Education Department, April 2015
  • Guest lecturer, ‘Objects and Material Culture,’ undergraduate seminar on Italian renaissance art, Georgetown University history department, April 2014
  • Gallery talks on Tilman Riemenschneider’s Bishop Saint; Netherlandish tapestry cushions; ‘Three Tudor Portraits by Holbein and Gheeraerts;’ ‘The Torpedoing of the Tubantia: a German WWI propaganda medal,’ National Gallery of Art, winter–spring 2012.
  • Gallery talk on Portrait of Sir John Luttrell by Hans Eworth, Courtauld Gallery, March 2011

Other academic activities

  • Interdisciplinary Resident, Oak Spring Garden Foundation, autumn 2022
  • Research scholarship recipient, Francis Haskell Memorial Fund, December 2018
  • Participant, Graduate Seminar ‘Invention and Observation in Italian Renaissance and Baroque Drawings,’ with Sir Nicholas Penny, Drawing Institute, The Morgan Library & Museum, 4 May 2018
  • Research Support Grant recipient, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, ‘The armored body and sculptural practice in medieval English brass tomb effigies,’ spring 2018
  • Organizer, Eight Quadrennial Italian Renaissance Sculpture Conference (‘Centers of Renaissance Sculptural Production’), National Gallery of Art, 26–28 October 2017
  • Participant, Summer Course for the Study of the Arts in Flanders: ‘Medieval and Renaissance Sculpture in the Low Countries,’ M-Leuven and Vlaamse Kunstcollectie, summer 2017
  • Research subject (electroencephalography), ‘A Neuroscientific and Cognitive-Forensic Examination of Individual Differences in Face Recognition Ability,’ University of Greenwich, 5 October 2016
  • Participant and Samuel H. Kress History of Art Grant recipient, Summer Course for the Study of the Arts in Flanders: ‘The Age of Van Eyck in Context,’ Groeningemuseum and Flemish Research Centre for the Arts in the Burgundian Netherlands, summer 2015
  • Research group member, ‘Religion, Art and Conflict: disputes, destruction, and creation,’ Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, June–December 2014
  • Member, Historians of Netherlandish Art
  • Member, Renaissance Society of America
  • Member, International Center of Medieval Art
  • Volunteer, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2012–present