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Art and judicial reforms after French Revolution to be discussed

Men gathered around a man in a chair, from the 1700s.

Image from Judgment of Cambyses by Gerard David

image of Vanessa Paumen

Vanessa Paumen

Vanessa Paumen, of the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium, will present “The Art of Law: Intersections of the Legal System and Art in the Low Countries (1450-1750)” at 6 p.m. Thursday, October 26, in the University Galleries.

Before the French Revolution, northern European courtrooms often featured violent, bloody art works. The Last Judgement was a popular theme, but other biblical and historical events (especially those that featured torture or physical punishments) were also common. These images were meant to function as prophylaxes against lawlessness. Forced to face a judge seated in front of images of torture and death, the criminal was meant to contemplate their own fate should their behavior not change.

Paumen, the coordinator of the Flemish Research Centre for the Arts in the Burgundian Netherlands at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium, recently co-curated an exhibition, The Art of Law, which featured more than 20 of these punitive art works from the collections around Europe. She will discuss this artwork and the recently closed exhibition.

Paumen’s talk, The Art of Law: Intersections of the Legal System and Art in the Low Countries (1450-1470), will examine how this tradition developed during the Ancien Régime (1450-1470) and how this practice changed following the radical judicial reforms following the French Revolution.

The talk is part of the Illinois State University Speaker Series. The series seeks to bring innovative and enlightening speakers to the campus with the aim of providing the community with a platform to foster dialogue, cultivate enriching ideas, and continue an appreciation of learning as an active and lifelong process. All talks are free and open to the public.

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