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ICOG visiting research fellow: Joanna Woodall

03 November 2021
Joannan Woodall

In November 2021, ICOG is joined by visiting research fellow Joanna Woodall. Joanna is an historian of the art, specialising in the in the visual culture of the Low Countries during the age of global expansion. She is a Professor at The Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London and currently enjoying a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

Joanna’s work on Portraiture. Facing the Subject (1996) is well-known and she is the author of a major monograph on the sixteenth-century Utrecht portrait specialist Anthonis Mor (2007). Her interest in the issue of ‘presence’ in works of art resulted, in 2019, in a jointly edited volume called Ad Vivum? Visual Materials and the Vocabulary of Life-Likeness in Europe before 1800. Her research interests have also focussed on love and money, and sometimes the exchange between the two. In 2022 Amsterdam University Press will publish Money Matters in European Artworks and Literature c.1400-1750, jointly edited with Natasha Seaman.

Joanna is a longstanding member of the editorial board of the Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, alongside two members of the Groningen Faculty, Professors Ann-Sophie Lehmann and Bart Ramakers. She is the lead editor of NKJ 71: Humans and other Animals, which is about to be published.

Depiction of ‘black’ skin in 17th-century paintings

Joanna's current project focuses on an oil painting produced in 1632 by the elite but little-known Delft artist Christiaen van Couwenbergh (1604-1667) and currently housed in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg. The painting depicts two white men sexually assaulting a black woman. Her aims are to understand this disturbing work of art as a material and historical artefact and to use this understanding to initiate a more nuanced interrogation of how depictions of rape participated in the developing discourse of race in the early modern Netherlands. The second phase of the project will address issues in the interpretation of this sensitive material for diverse gallery visitors today.

In Groningen, Joanna is looking forward to participating in the research culture of the Department of History of Art and Architecture and will relish the opportunity to advance her research in the multi-disciplinary environment of the ICOG. Her work will be further supported by the Library’s Special Collections. Her stay will make it possible for her to study at first hand the material and technical character of the depiction of ‘black’ skin in 17th-century Netherlandish paintings, in preparation for a workshop on this topic to be held at the Groninger Museum at the end of November.

Visiting research fellowship programme

ICOG welcomes applications for visiting research fellowships from academics working in the fields of its five research centres. The duration of visits usually varies from a month to half a year. During this time, visiting research fellows are expected to work on their own research projects (ideally in collaboration with a scholar or an academic team from ICOG) and to participate in the events organised by ICOG.

Last modified:03 November 2021 1.07 p.m.

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