CfP: “Contested forms: The limits of the sacred image and the normative power of art in early modern Europe”


(International conference supported by SACRIMA – The Normativity of Sacred Images in Early Modern Europe @ LMU Munich, November 2-3, 2017)

The ERC-funded project SACRIMA, The Normativity of Sacred Images in Early Modern Europe, at the Institute for Art History of the LMU Munich invites papers that look afresh at the relations between art, image, cult and law, focusing in particular on the normativity of images, the limits of the sacred image and the normative power of art in Catholic Europe between 1450 and 1650.

Recent investigations of the early modern sacred image have focused on notions of censorship and iconoclasm, ‘controversy’ and the ‘reform of art’. Less attention has been devoted to the ‘normativity’ of images, a notion that we suggest to consider in a double sense: on the one hand, the norms for images elaborated by external and often competing agencies (namely, image theoreticians, the various Inquisitions, episcopal and political authorities etc.); on the other, the visual traditions and norms created, adapted or suggested by artists, during the various stages of conceptualization and finalization of their works.

This conference will explore this twofold notion of ‘image normativity’ by looking at cases of images that trespass the limits of visual, aesthetic and/or religious standards. We welcome proposals exploring conflicts regarding a sacred image’s form, style, iconography, and spatial relationships in early modern Europe. We are interested in contributions that either reevaluate well-known cases from this perspective or present newly discovered and/or little-known materials concerning the negotiation and/or contestation of images, iconographies and styles. By bringing together papers dealing with cases of contested images from different regions, this conference aims to compare and discuss the varying and fluctuating “visual norms” deployed in Catholic Europe in the face of radical criticism of sacred images supported by the Reformation and by non-Christian religious minorities.


Topics covered might include:

– Excessive images and the status of images deemed to be unusual, non-conforming and/or blasphemous;

– The role of the artists and of drawing during the various stages of the conceptualization, negotiation and production of sacred images (from preparatory sketches and presentation drawings to their final works);

– The status and function of graphic and visual material in legal documentation (especially in inquisitorial, canonization and/or lay trials);

– Conflicts of competences regarding the production, the control and the use of sacred images;

– Competition between the regulations of religions and the rules of art.


Papers delivered at the SACRIMA conference will be considered for publication in a collective volume. Proposals of maximum 500 words and a brief CV can be sent by 20 July 2017 to Abstracts in English, German, Italian, French and Spanish are accepted. The main language of the workshop will be English. Speakers will be notified by 27 July 2017. Travel costs and accommodation in Munich will be covered.



Prof. Dr. Chiara Franceschini (

Dr. Cloe Cavero (


CfP SACRIMA Conference - Contested forms