Early Modern Viewers and Buildings in Motion

Event Date: 
25 Feb 2017


Old Divinity School, St. John’s College, University of Cambridge


Deadline to register:  Sunday, 12 February 2017

Fee (includes lunch and refreshments):  £15

Website:  https://www.dur.ac.uk/conference.booking/details/?id=704




Movement, both literal and metaphorical, lies at the heart of early modern European architectural theory, design and experience.  Architectural authors invoked the notion of progress as temporal motion, structured their books as tours of buildings, and followed the ancient Roman Vitruvius in explaining how to manipulate the motions of winds through building design.  Simultaneously, poets led their readers on tours of house and estate, and Aristotelian as well as mechanistic philosophers averred that motion was inherent to human perception from particle vibrations in one’s senses to neural vibrations in one’s brain.  Across a range of scales in actual lived experience, moreover, viewers and buildings were frequently in motion; people walked through built spaces, interiors contained portable furnishings, and travellers and prints circulated ideas of buildings internationally.



This conference seeks to examine the range of scales, media, and theoretical discussions which foreground early modern intersections of architecture and motion.  In so doing, it both puts into motion the usually static viewer and building of historical narratives and merges often independent yet overlapping strands of analysis – for instance, the ‘mobile viewer’ studied by art historians Michael Baxandall and Svetlana Alpers and the tensions surrounding early modern globalization discussed by cultural historians.  These and other strands of inquiry are brought together by an international, interdisciplinary group of speakers examining case studies encompassing England, France, Italy, German-speaking areas, and the New World during the fourteenth through nineteenth centuries.


Contact Information


Kimberley Skelton (Durham University):  kimberley.c.skelton@durham.ac.uk






9.30                 Registration


10.00               Welcome. Frank Salmon (University of Cambridge) and Kimberley Skelton (Durham University)


10.05               Session 1. Chair: Kimberley Skelton (Durham University)

Allison Stielau (University College London): 'The Censer as Mobile Mini-Building, Swung Structure, and Producer of Olfactory Space'

Andrew Chen (University of Cambridge): 'Fourteenth-century Ascetic Imagers in a Staircase at Santa Maria della Scala, Siena'

Donal Cooper (University of Cambridge): 'Fleeting Visions: Occluded Altarpieces and Mobile Eues in the Italian Renaissance Church Interior'

11.30               Coffee


12.00               Session 2. Chair: Frank Salmon (University of Cambridge)

Stefano Cracolici (Durham University): ‘The Poliphilo Syndrome’

Kimberley Skelton (Durham University): 'Sensory Vibrations and Social Reform in San Michele  Ripa in Rome'

Bram Van Oostveldt (University of Amsterdam/Leiden University): 'Frantic Memories and Excessive Objects: Monicart's Versailles immortalise ou les merveilles parlantes de Versailles (1720)'


1.30                 Lunch


2.30                 Session 3. Chair: Donal Cooper (University of Cambridge)

Caroline van Eck (University of Cambridge): 'Moving through Space and Time: Immersive Spaces at the Hotel de Beauharnais in Paris'

Edmund Thomas (Durham University): ‘Movement Through Ruins: Re-experiencing the Antique in Eighteenth-Century Travelogues’

Rebecca Tropp (University of Cambridge): ‘Movement and the Central Core: Design Principles in the Country Houses of John Nash'


4.00                 Tea



4.30                 Session 4. Chair: Stefano Cracolici (Durham University)


Daniel Jütte (New York University/University of Cambridge): ‘Entering the Early Modern City: Gates as Sites of Passage’

James Campbell (University of Cambridge): ‘Libraries in Motion’

Emily Mann (University of Kent): ‘From Ship to Shore: The Architecture of Early Modern Trading Companies'


6.00                 Wine Reception


PDF icon Conference Programme1.53 MB