Personal profile


Niels Weijenberg is a postgraduate researcher in the Department of Art History and Cultural Practices. His PhD project examines the rise of visual representations of universal language in the early modern Low Countries. He is supervised by Dr Edward Wouk and Dr Anthony Gerbino.

The starting point for his project is an investigation into the humanist quest for a perfect language, which was believed to be given by God to Adam in Paradise, and to have vanished as punishment for the construction of the Tower of Babel. Considering a range of images across media, Niels’s research explores the ways in which artists attempted to give visual form to the concept of a universal language, with particular focus on the exquisite writing manuals of the so-called ‘Golden Age of Dutch Calligraphy’ (c. 1590-1650).

His dissertation aims to offer a novel interpretation of these volumes as objects of central importance to emerging notions of political and religious identity during the Dutch Revolt.

Niels’s PhD is supported by a School of Arts, Languages and Cultures PhD Studentship, funded by The University of Manchester.



Niels is interested in combining his fascination for art, history and language into new interdisciplinary approaches to cultural heritage. At Utrecht University, he earned his BA specialising in the arts and cultures of the early modern Low Countries and Italy. As an intern at the Gerson Digital Project (RKD, The Hague), he researched the mobility of Netherlandish artists around Europe, particularly in Northern Italy. Niels then studied at The Courtauld Institute of Art in London (MA History of Art). In 2020-2021, he completed a second Masters degree (MSc) in Culture, Organisation and Management at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, which looks at organisations through the scope of cultural anthropology.

During the Spring of 2022, Niels was a visiting scholar at the Allard Pierson Museum / Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam, funded by the UK government’s Turing Scheme. For Spring 2023, he was awarded a Fellowship at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel (Germany) by the Dr. Günther Findel-Stiftung. In March-April 2024, Niels is going to conduct research at the Dutch University Institute for Art History (NIKI) in Florence as International PhD Fellow.

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Science, Culture, Organization and Management, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Award Date: 15 Jul 2021

Master of Arts, History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art (University of London)

Award Date: 29 Jul 2020

Bachelor of Arts, Art History, Utrecht University

Award Date: 31 Jul 2019

Areas of expertise

  • NX Arts in general
  • Z004 Books. Writing. Paleography
  • DH Netherlands (The Low Countries)
  • AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
  • NE Print media


  • Northern Renaissance
  • Calligraphy
  • Adamic Language
  • Print Culture
  • Netherlandish Art
  • Art and Migration
  • Netherlandish Art in Global Context
  • Early Modern
  • Art and Knowledge
  • Babel