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Medieval and Early Modern Studies: Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp


Admission requirements

See Teaching and Examination Regulations.


In late mediaeval and early modern Europe, painters and other visual artists were united in guilds to protect their rights. These guilds were often called after the patron of artists, Saint Luke. This course focuses on the Saint Luke guild of Antwerp. No only was it one of the most famous guilds. This guild is of particular interest as from 1480 onwards it was closely affiliated with an illustrious literary and dramatic society, the chamber of rhetoric of the Gillyflower. Thus poets, theatre makers and visual artists were part of the same group.

We will take the affiliation of the Antwerp guild and chamber of rhetoric as a starting point to look at how literature, the visual arts and theatre were related to one another in the late fifteenth till the early seventeenth century in the Low Countries. The close connection resulted in cooperations for particular occasions, such as joyous entries and theatre festivals. But it can also be detected in the striking susceptibility for each other’s medium and message. In the creation of rebuses and hieroglyph painters tried to develop visual languages and by staging tableaux vivants theatre makers tried to parallel the impact of a painting.

This course will first present some pregnant examples of the many close associations between word and image in Antwerp art and literature practice, such as the use of the figure of Elcerlyc. He was first staged in a morality play, but was quickly represented in print and painting as well. We will also discuss the interaction between word and image in theatre, more particular in the competition of het landjuweel of 1561. After a series of lectures, students give presentations and write papers on a topic of their own choice that is related to the close relation between word and image in the Guild of Saint Luke and the Gillyflower.

Course objectives

  • students will have obtained an insight in the relation between word and image in late mediaeval and early modern art practice, more particularly in the practice of the writers and painters related to the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp;

  • students will have learnt to recognize and produce productive research questions;

  • students have become acquainted with some important texts and art works that resulted from the guild of Saint Luke;

  • students are able to initiate and carry out a modest research project on the crossing point between word and image in a particular art work or text, a genre, an artist or writer related to the guild of Saint Luke, in which they frame their own reading explicitly, and situate themselves critically within early modern and contemporary scholarly and artistic debates.


Please consult the timetable on the MA Arts and Culture website. ### Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Seminar

Course Load

  • Attending seminars 13 × 2 hours = 26 hours) – Reading and preparing classes = 13 × 4 hours = 52 hours – Time to write a paper (including reading / research) = 202 hours

Assessment method

  • Reviews of essays from the reading list (15%)

  • Presentation (25%)

  • Paper (60%)



Reading list

See Blackboard


Students are required to register for this course via usis
The course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: Please see the website Study in Leiden for information on how to apply/register for this course.

Students who are not in the MA Arts and Culture programme, but who would like to take this course as an optional course, please contact Mrs. Joëlle Koning MA the co-ordinator of studies.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable