Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) News

POSTPONED - ICOG lecture - JOANNA WOODALL (Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London): "The past, present and future of 'Le Rapt de la Négresse'"

When:Th 02-12-2021 16:00 - 17:30
Where:Jantina Tammeszaal, 4th floor UL & Online
Prof. Joanna Woodall
Prof. Joanna Woodall

Due to the new COVID restrictions, this lecture is being postponed.

We warmly invite you to join us on Thursday 2 December for the 2021 ICOG lecture, followed by (if covid permits) drinks and chance to catch up and discuss research in a relaxed atmosphere.

Professor Joanna Woodall (Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London), our current ICOG visiting fellow, will deliver this first plenary ICOG lecture and will inaugurate the start of what will hopefully become a long tradition of vibrant research exchange:



The focus of my lecture is Christiaen van Couwenbergh’s painting of two young white men sexually assaulting a black woman (1632, Strasbourg, Musée des Beaux-Arts). Today this disturbing image is an example of overt and vicious racism, amplified by violence against a woman who has nothing.

My talk begins by considering the picture historically. It asks fundamental questions about its production and reception in the Netherlands during a short period in which the morality of slavery was debated, before it was fully embraced. It considers a possible connection between the work and Bredero’s comedy Het Moortje (1615).

I then go on to think about the limits of historical explanation in relation to such a work, which stains the present as well as the past. What should we do with such a picture?

About the speaker

Joanna Woodall 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.


Please register to attend the lecture and join us for drinks afterwards. Space is limited!

Registration is also required for the livestream. We hope to see you on December 2nd!

For information, please contact