The life of Lambert Lombard - Art history at the periphery of the Renaissance (2017-2020)

Project Details


Dominicus Lampsonius’s Life of Lambert Lombard (Lamberti Lombardi...Vita), published in Bruges in 1565, is widely regarded as the first artistic treatise written in the Low Countries. Yet, the scarcity of the text and difficulty of its Latin prose have limited its reception, and it has never been translated into English.

This project will result in the first English-language translation of this biography-cum-treatise. The translation, fully annotated and illustrated, will be introduced by a substantial essay situating the biography, its subject, and its author at a critical juncture in the development of Renaissance artistic theory and the emergence of the first self-consciously Netherlandish history of art. It will also include a fresh English translation of the inscriptions Lampsonius composed to accompany the Pictorum Aliquot Celebrium Germaniae Inferioris Effigies, a volume of twenty-three portraits of Netherlandish artists, published in 1572 by the widow of the Antwerp publisher Hieronymus Cock. Fine examples of many of these portraits appear in a little-known volume of artists’ biographies in The John Rylands Library (Ms English 60), which has been digitised in conjunction with this project.

Lampsonius’s Life of Lambert Lombard offers unprecedented insight into what it was like to write about art and its histories at the periphery of Renaissance Europe. In this treatise he advanced a radical notion for its time: that northern European artists deserved to be considered intellectual painters, their skills and erudition simultaneously equal to those of their Italian counterparts yet independent of Italian paradigms.

Funding body
• School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, Unit of Assessment Support Fund (2017, 2019)
• The J Paul Getty Trust

Public talk

• "Surface Tensions: Dominicus Lampsonius’s Lamberti Lombardi… Vita," College Art Association of America (CAA), New York City, February 2019, session on The Artist’s Biography, co-chaired by Babette Bohn and Jeffrey Chipps Smith.
StatusNot started

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