Perceiving Processions

Event Date: 
24 Nov 2018


Eighth Early Modern Symposium


09:30 am – 6.00 pm (registration from 9:00 am)

Free admission, all welcome. Advance booking requested.


Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN


Organised by Talitha Schepers (The Courtauld Institute of Art / University of Kent) and Alice Zamboni (The Courtauld Institute of Art)


Supported by the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership



In recent years, a renewed interest in Early Modern rituals, festivals, and performances has prompted a reconsideration of ceremonious processions with a particular focus on their impact on social, cultural, artistic and political structures and practices. Simultaneously, scholars have increasingly acknowledged the mobility of Early Modern artists across geographical, religious and cultural borders. Although processions were witnessed by natives and visitors alike and were therefore prime instances of cross-cultural encounters, their depictions by artists both local and foreign remain a lesser-studied body of visual material. This symposium proposes to explore the visual representations of processions that took place within cross-cultural encounters both within and outside of Europe.


A procession was an act of movement that was particularly charged with meaning; an ambulatory mode of celebration, it had a global resonance in the Early Modern period. Processionals impressed foreign dignitaries, established modes of rule, communicated traditions and negotiated power balances and were highly sensory occasions – as such they lent themselves readily to visual representation and were enthusiastically recorded in literature. Pageantries, military processions and Joyous Entries (Blijde Inkomsten) were recorded in a variety of media, as exemplified by the festival books celebrating the ephemeral constructions orchestrated for Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand’s arrival in Antwerp (1635) or the eighteenth-century paintings depicting Venice’s dazzling boat parades in honour of foreign dignitaries. Furthermore, ceremonial processions conceived for births, weddings, circumcision feasts and funerals occasioned visual representations such as the colourful Mughal miniature Wedding Procession of Dara Shikoh in presence of Shah Jahan (1740). In addition, the notion of procession can be expanded to encompass various expressions of mobility that could be understood and were often depicted as a procession. Both Jan van Scorel’s frieze-like painting of the knightly brotherhood commemorating their Holy Land pilgrimage (c. 1530) and the depiction of ambassadors travelling with their retinue to foreign courts and cities can be perceived as a form of procession. Thus, the structure of a procession was increasingly adopted in the Early Modern period to depict moments of exchange and motion propelled by the quest for knowledge, as much as diplomatic concerns and religious piety. Well-known examples include The Voyage to Calicut tapestry series (1504) as well as the highly detailed printed frieze of a merchant endeavour by Hans Burgkmair (The King of Cochin, 1508).



09.00 – 09.30:   Registration


09.30 – 09.45:   Welcome by Talitha Schepers and Alice Zamboni


09.45 – 11.00:   Session 1: Royal Encounters ~ Chair: Lorne Darnell    

Bianca Schor (Independent Scholar, London): Albert Eckhout's tapestry 'Le Roi Porté' in Malta: a diplomatic encounter

Travis Seifman (University of California): Displaying foreignness for prestige: Luchuan embassy processions in Edo, 1644-1850

Matthew Gin (Harvard University): Rites of passage: re-tracing Princess Maria Teresa Rafaela's entry into France (1745)


11.00 – 11.35:   Tea and coffee break


11.35 – 12.50:   Session 2: Beyond the Documentary ~ Chair: Saskia Rubin                 

Gemma Cornetti (The Warburg Institute, University of London):

Stefano della Bella and the triumphal entry of the Polish ambassador in Rome (1633)

Sabrina Lind (Ghent University):

A book without readers? Or the audience and the importance of the festival book(s) of the Joyous Entry into Antwerp in 1635

Gaylen Vankan (University of Liège): Imagine Orient: a military procession by Jan Swart van Groningen


12.50 – 13.50:   Lunch (Provided for speakers and chairs)


13.50 – 15. 05:  Session 3: Performing Processions ~ Chair: Tessa Nicholson

Laila Dandachi (University of Vienna):

"The triumphal Exotic from the East": the display of diplomatic performances of Early Modern Islamic Empires shaped by the iconic and emblematic nature of Islamic military arms and armour

Borja Franco Llopis and Francisco Orts-Ruiz (UNED, Madrid):

Muslims and Moriscos in the processions and royal entries in Iberia (14-16th Centuries). Beyond their visual representation

Esther Pramschiefer (University of Cologne):

Travelling theatres in Germany – audiences and actors proceeding outwards of walled cities


15.05 – 15.40:   Tea and coffee break


15.40 – 16.30:   Session 4: Religious Processions ~ Chair: Janet O’Brien

Ashley Patton (University of Minnesota): St Rose of Lima: identity, performance, and surrogacy

Massoumeh Assemi (The Courtauld Institute of Art): Muharram processions


16.30 – 16.40:   Short Break


16.40 – 17.30    Session 5: Itinerant Processions ~ Chair: Kyle Leyden

Raoul DuBois (University of Zurich): Temporality and mediality of the processions in travelogues of the 15th and 16th century

Nicholas Mazer Crummey (Independent Scholar, Budapest):

Observing a city in motion: an Englishman's account of the 1675 Ottoman imperial circumcision festival in Edirne


17.30 – 18.00:   Closing Remarks ~ Dr Sussan Babaie (The Courtauld Institute of Art)


18.00:               Reception (Front Hall)

Submission date for papers: 
24 Sep 2018
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