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Delightful Horror. The Sublime in Seventeenth-Century Visual and Decorative Art and Architecture in France and the Dutch Republic


Deze informatie is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Please note: For this class there will be additional costs (about €200,-) for the excursion to Paris

Admission requirements

This course is an (extracurricular) Honours Class: an honours elective in the Honours College programme. There are limited spots available for second- and third-year non honours students. Admission will be based on motivation.

Students that want to graduate in the summer of 2019 are advised not to take a summer course, since we cannot guarantee that your grade will be processed in time for Bachelor’s certification and/or Master’s admission procedures.


Art from the Dutch Golden Age is often presented as a laudation of everyday life, the real and the bourgeois. By contrast, art from the French âge classique is praised for its clarity of expression and its moderation. Thus the Golden Age and the âge classique seem to show a clear rupture from the centuries-old fascination of art as an experience of contrasting emotions of fascination and horror, and fear and attraction. These conflicting emotions seem not to correspond with the ‘calm’ Dutch painters as Vermeer, De Hooch or Potter whose works were increasingly used to define the Golden Age, nor with the work of Poussin or Le Brun used to define the âge classique.
First, we will try to redefine this dominant view on the art of the seventeenth-century Netherlands and France by focusing on the extreme popularity of the grotesque, decorations defined by their monstrosities, hybridities and a rich diversity of distorted forms which appear almost everywhere, in paintings, drawings and prints, even by the most famous artists as Rembrandt, on facades and inside buildings, and in most expensive furniture, cutlery, tapestries, etc. To conclude our Summer School, we will focus on the afterlife of the grotesque and in how far in other centuries they were seen as delightful horror as well.

Collaboration Ecole du Louvre

This Honours Class is organised in collaboration with Ecole du Louvre in Paris. Together with students from Ecole du Louvre you will follow lectures and go on excursion in the Netherlands. Later on, you will travel to Paris, where you will attend lectures at Ecole du Louvre and go on excursion together with the students from this university.

Course objectives

Knowledge: At the end of the summer school the students have acquired a better view on painting, sculpture, drawings, prints, and architecture of the Dutch Golden Age and the French âge classique and their influence on later periods. They will have developed other perspectives complementary to the dominant view on Dutch and French seventeenth-century art as an expression of the pious burghers and their everyday life or of royal magnificence. The students will also have learned that the Golden Age and the âge classique are historical constructions from later periods than the seventeenth century to provide these later periods of norms and values.

*Skills: *Being able to accomplish independent art historical research: to formulate and present a well-considered judgement on scientific literature and relate this to the analysis of art and architecture in both a written and oral manner. The course objectives are:

  • To select a subject for an art historical research and to formulate a relevant definition of the problem.

  • To choose an adequate method to solve this problem, to carry out a thorough analysis of secondary literature and of visual and textual primary sources which is elaborated in a bibliography that corresponds to academic requirements.

  • To be able to write a structured discourse in max. 4000 words, incl. notes and bibliography, starting for a relevant definition of the problem and with a thorough conclusion.


24, 25, 26 June: Lectures from 9 am till 2 pm and visits to museums are scheduled in the afternoon till 6 pm.
27, 28, 29 June: Excursion to Paris.


First part: The Old Observatory Leiden Room c002 & excursions to Amsterdam and The Hague
Second part: Ecole du Louvre & excursions in Paris


First part: Lectures and visits to museums
Second part: Excursion to Paris (Ecole du Louvre).

It’s important to realise that you have to be fully available for the Honours Class during this period.

Course Load

This course is worth 5 EC, which means the total course load equals 140 hours.

  • Lectures: 6 lectures of 5 hours: 30 hours

  • Excursion: 6 excursions of 4 hours: 24 hours

  • Literature reading & practical work: 40 hours

  • Final essay: 46 hours

Assessment method

  • 30% Participation assessed continually through participation in summer school

  • 70% A final paper of 4000 words

Please note: attendance is compulsory

Blackboard and uSis

Blackboard will be used in this course. Students can register for the Blackboard site two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Please note: students are not required to register through uSis for the Honours Classes. Your registration will be done centrally.

Reading list

The required literature will be available on Blackboard.


Please note: For this class there will be additional costs (about €200,-) for the excursion to Paris

Enrolling in this course is possible from Tuesday November 6th until Thursday November 15th 23.59 hrs through the Honours Academy, via this link. It is not necessary to register in uSis.


Dr. Stijn Bussels