A Beautiful Painting? Aesthetic canon(s) and pictorial production within the Spanish Crown Territories (16-19 c.)

  • Deadline: Apr 30, 2024
  • Paris, France

This conference, held in Paris in December 2024, will examine the concept of the beautiful in early modern art of the territories of the Spanish Crown.

The beautiful in the field of Hispanic painting (in the sense of painting produced in the territories of the Spanish Crown) is a notion that is not precisely defined and debated regarding its fundamental character in art history in general, and this in favor of an approach that focuses mainly on the realistic canon of this painting. The Spanish Golden Age, religious painting, still life and its great names (Velázquez, Zurbarán, Ribera, etc.) are all linked to a form of realism or naturalism presented as the most characteristic feature of Spanish painting. However, some recent publications on the Golden Age itself show a renewed interest and a new approach to the subject, which are also evidenced by the new directions of young researchers in the field of Hispanic painting of the 15th-19th centuries.

Moreover, exciting works have already been devoted to the painting produced within colonial America, which highlight the importance of adopting a periodization in which 1700 is not a breaking point for American territories, research on painting in the colonial Philippines is hardly sketched out, and for the other territories of the Crown also it seems obvious that periodization cannot be a fixed given.

Finally, a renewed interest in a historiographical approach to Spanish art history has emerged in the last decade. The history of Hispanic art is therefore undergoing a period of change.


This symposium is devoted to the question of the beautiful in painting produced within the territories of the Spanish Crown (Spain, but also Sicily, Naples, Milan, South Netherlands, Artois, Franche-Comté, as well as the American and Filipino territories) from the 16th century to the early 19th century. It aims to question both the way in which an ideal has been forged in the painting produced in these territories, often associated in historiography with a “realistic” or “naturalist” canon, with all the problems that these terms imply, and the way in which this canon was perceived and received, or even adapted, transformed to the different periods. What was considered beautiful in the paintings produced in the territories under Spanish rule during modern times? What was the aesthetic ideal of the painter and the viewer? Was beauty really the painters’ first objective? What about the 18th century, particularly after the dynastic change, and the arrival at the Court of artists from France and Italy? What about the 16th century?

From a historiographic point of view, have the paradigms of Beauty been so modified that they have made Spanish painting lose its signs of recognition (realism, predominance of the religious), and have made it forget? What place should be given in this context to the greatest names in painting (Morales, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Goya, etc.)? Can we think of the history of Spanish art by giving them less space in the aesthetic canons associated with it?

This event is dedicated to young researchers, and more specifically to doctoral and postdoctoral students working on one of the aspects described above. These French researchers will be able to enter into dialogue with foreign doctoral students, in particular Spanish ones, who are of course also expected: their presence will make it possible to assess
whether there are gaps in their approaches, particularly because of the historiographic traditions in which they are based.

Organizing committee

  • RACCAH, Clémence (INHA)
  • ROMAGNÉ, Iris, (CY Université and musée du Louvre)
  • VINCENT-CASSY, Cécile (CY Cergy Paris Université)

Scientific committee

  • ALCALÁ, Luisa Elena (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)
  • CHASTEL-ROUSSEAU, Charlotte (musée du Louvre)
  • ESPIN, Elsa (CY Cergy Paris Université)
  • GONZÁLEZ TORNEL, Pablo (Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia)
  • PEREDA, Felipe (Harvard University)
  • VINCENT-CASSY, Cécile (CY Cergy Paris Université)


Contribution proposals in the form of an abstract of a maximum of 200 words and a brief biographical profile must be sent before the 30th April 2024 to [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].

Travel and living expenses (3 nights) will be covered by the organization of the meeting.