ARTES 2023 Nigel Glendinning lecture

“Así repiten aún las piedras”: Juan de Roelas, Seville of 1615, and the City as Substrate

Speaker: Aaron M. Hyman

In 1615, Seville erupted with fervent debates about the question of the Virgin’s Immaculacy. Clergymen hoping to sway the hearts and minds of both everyday supplicants and the religious powers that be took to the streets. The main mode by which clerics tested and contested ideas about Immaculacy was through the written word. “No plaza, no fortification, no street,” as one period source describes, was free from pamphlets and broadsheets that alternatively lambasted or defended this theological tenet. Amid this turmoil, the Spanish-Flemish cleric and painter Juan de Roelas produced a massive painting covered in texts of all sorts. This talk parses the picture’s many inscriptions not simply for their content but for their formal and material aspects, coordinating these against campaigns of the written word that were staged across the city’s surfaces. Doing so reveals the painting to be a carefully constructed message about the potentials and the power of particular types of textual objects and of the city itself—its very stones—to serve as a substrate capable of receiving inscription.

This talk emerges from a new book project, Formalities: The Art of Script in the Early Modern Spanish World, research for which has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Thoma Foundation, and the Newberry Library, Chicago.

Aaron M. Hyman is assistant professor in the Department of the History of Art at Johns Hopkins University and in 2023 fellow-in-residence as part of the “Global Horizons in Pre-modern Art” project at the Universität Bern. He is the author of Rubens in Repeat: The Logic of the Copy in Colonial Latin America (Getty Research Institute, 2021), which was awarded the Latin American Studies Association’s Best Book in Colonial Latin American Studies (2019-22), honorable mention for the 2023 Association for Latin American Art-Arvey Foundation Book Award, and honorable mention for the Renaissance Society of America’s 2023 Phyllis Goodhart Gordon Prize for Best Book in Renaissance Studies.

Organised by ARTES and Dr Tom Nickson (The Courtauld)

This event has passed.

25 May 2023

Thursday 25th May 2023, 6pm - 7.30pm BST

Free, booking essential

Lecture Theatre 1  Vernon Square 

This is an in person event at our Vernon Square campus. Booking will close 30 minutes before the event begins.




early modern
Large medieval painting depicting the virgin Mary central surrounded by religious figures including nuns and angels
Juan de Roelas, The Immaculate Virgin, 1616, oil on canvas, 323 x 195 cm. Museo Nacional de Escultura, Valladolid