Volkswagen Fellowship Symposium 2014 – “Depicting Death True to Life: Violence in Dutch Print and Painting”
David de Boer, University of Konstanz:
Depictions of violence played an important role in the news media of the Dutch Republic. Compared to prints from other parts of Europe they often seem particularly cruel. Frans Hogenberg (1535-1590), the first engraver to depict contemporary political events in the Netherlands, devoted most of his prints to furies, massacres, and executions in an attempt to defame the Spanish. But the visualization of extreme violence could also appeal to a sense of justice. Many prints depicting the brutal lynching of the De Witt brothers were accompanied by texts that applauded the event through a close observation of how their bodies were mutilated. This paper explores the functions and contexts of violence in news prints and painting in the Dutch republic. By approaching the mutilated body as a signifier of humanity, it explores the ways in which the tormented body served as a (corporeal) concretization of contemporary events.
During his studies at Utrecht University, Leiden University, the University of Siena, and UCLA, David de Boer has specialized in early-modern memory cultures and the Reformation. For his bachelor thesis, he researched the religious legitimation of Louis XIII and Richelieu´s foreign policy. As a master student, he has researched and written about republicanism in the works of Machiavelli and civic memory after the atrocities of war (an article on this subject will be published in a collective volume this year). In his master thesis, he researched Catholic perceptions of iconoclasm in the Netherlands. After graduating with the highest possible distinction, he directly started working as a PhD student with Malte Griesse in the research project Revolts as communicative events in early modern Europe at the University of Konstanz.