And about the Final Exam

Dear all,

the final WRITTEN exam will take place on Wednesday May 27th, 2:00 pm, room 3. It will consist in a list of questions about ALL the topics of the course. You will have to choose only two questions and write your answers (like 2 short essays).

IN ANY CASE you have to register on the University’s Website choosing one of the official dates of the oral exam. The oral exam will consist in a brief chat on what you have done during the course (blog comments, competition, etc.). We need your registration in order to do the “verbalizzazione”. You can come when you prefer but we suggest to register for the first date available (June 9th). Also, if you can’t come on the 27th of May, you can do the written exam on one of the dates of the oral exam. Anwyay, we warmly suggest to take advantage of the possibility to do it as soon as possible!

Dates of the oral exam:

June 9, 10:30 am

June 23, 10:30 am

July 14, 10:30 am

You have to register BOTH for “lingua giuridica” (4CFU) and “law and the humanities” (7CFU):

About the Midterm Exam (better known as “The Competition”). Deadline: May 3

Dear all,

we perfectly know that our Midterm Exam is a little bit unusual but don’t be afraid and use your creativity!

The Midterm Exam will consist of a sort of “Competition”. The idea is to be creative, to “perform Law and the Humanities”. You can submit a photo, a drawing, a video (short! No more than 5 minutes!), a song, a poem, a novel, etc. related to the topics we have discussed in class or others. In case you are going to submit an image or a video, please remember to add a brief comment in order to explain the connection to “Law and the Humanities”. It could be even just a title, if it’s a good one. In any case, you shouldn’t write more than one page.
If you want to write something, do not write an essay but rather a novel (remember legal storytelling?) or a poem.
All materials should be sent to the email address can also add as cc our personal addresses:;; by May 3rd. If you want to submit a drawing or similar, please scan it and send it via email.
Osate (nei limiti del lecito e della decenza)!

Felix Jaeger on “Law and the Visual”


This week’s classes on “Law and the Visual” will explore the power of images to both shape legal norms and act as a means of enforcing these norms. In the first class we will examine images of infamy supposed to punish a delinquent by visually compromising his likeness. The second class will be devoted to public executions and the use of effigies as substitutes of dead or absent convicts. The third class will consider connections between effigies, portraits and visual representations of the state. By analyzing the forms and contents of these images, we will try to understand how they work on the public and the persons they depict. Contrasting historical with contemporary examples, we will then think about the continuities and changes in the use of legal imagery until today.

Andrea del Sarto, Man hanging upside down, drawing, 1530, Galleria degli Uffizi, Firenze. // Syre, Cornelia [et al.] (ed.): Göttlich Gemalt. Andrea del Sarto. Die Heilige Familie in Paris und München, München 2009, p. 81, fig. 41

Felix Jeager’s CV:

Magister Artium, Medieval History, Art History and Philosophy, Humboldt University of Berlin and University College London, 2014. Currently PhD candidate in History of Art at Humboldt University, supervised by Prof. Horst Bredekamp. Provisional thesis title: “Political Iconology of the Grotesque”. Since May 2014 pre-doctoral fellow of the Minerva Research Group “Nomos of Images. Manifestation and Iconology of Law” at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut.

Defamatory letter with image of shame, watercolor drawing, August 7, 1524. // Lentz, Matthias: Konflikt, Ehre, Ordnung. Untersuchungen zu den Schmähbriefen und Schandbildern des Späten Mittelalters und der Frühen Neuzeit (ca. 1350 bis 1600), Hannover 2004, no. 85


David Freedberg, The Power of Images. Studies in the History and Theory of Response, Chicago and London, 1991 (1989), pp. 246-282.

Ernst H. Kantorowicz, The King’s Two Bodies. A Study in Medieval Political Theology, Princeton, 1957 (extracts).

Prof. Conte and Dr. Condello on “Law, Visual and Narratives. From the Ancient to the Contemporary”

Monreale_photo_ru_Sibeaster02The next two classes (there will be no class on Friday) will concern the connection between law, visual representation and narrativity. We will discuss how and why, from the ancient to the contemporary era, figurative (and/or abstract) art has constituted a means of communication: from the authority to the mass, from the individuals towards the authority. We will do so by analyzing a series of images and by discussing their legal and political function: images convey a narration and can be, at the same time, normative. More information about the readings and useful links will be provided on Wednesday.


A. Baldini, “An Urban Carnival on the City Walls: The Visual Representation of Financial Power in European Street Art” (forthcoming in The Journal of Visual Culture): available HERE.

[image: Cathedral of Monreale, William II’s cornoation panel]

More about the iconography of Lady Justice in Literature & Art

“The press of the Spoon River Clarion was wrecked,

  And I was tarred and feathered,

  For publishing this on the day the

  Anarchists were hanged in Chicago:

  “l saw a beautiful woman with bandaged eyes

  Standing on the steps of a marble temple.

  Great multitudes passed in front of her,

  Lifting their faces to her imploringly.

  In her left hand she held a sword.

  She was brandishing the sword,

  Sometimes striking a child, again a laborer,

  Again a slinking woman, again a lunatic.

  In her right hand she held a scale;

  Into the scale pieces of gold were tossed

  By those who dodged the strokes of the sword.

  A man in a black gown read from a manuscript:

  “She is no respecter of persons.”

  Then a youth wearing a red cap

  Leaped to her side and snatched away the bandage.

  And lo, the lashes had been eaten away

  From the oozy eye-lids;

  The eye-balls were seared with a milky mucus;

  The madness of a dying soul

  Was written on her face–

  But the multitude saw why she wore the bandage.”

This is a very famous peace of poetry on Lady Justice. Do you know the author of this text and the title of the work? Let’s post here quotations and images about Lady Justice! If you can’t post images, just send them to the address:

Some interesting questions on legal iconography by Stefan Huygebaert


This is one of the most intriguing art works I came across when researching Belgian legal iconography, and I’m very interested in reading your interpretations, views, thoughts,… Give it a go. How do you read the different personifications in this sculpture group (here shown on a post card), by means of their attributes? What about their interaction? Bearing this in mind, what could this allegory be about, according to you? What do you think the artist had to say about law & justice?

Stefan Huygebaert on “An introduction to legal iconography”

David Bruto

Jacques-Louis David, ‘The execution of Brutus’s sons’ (sketch), ca. 1785, New York, Morgan Library & Museum, Thaw Collection. 

An introduction to legal iconography

  1. Justice as an icon

The first class of this introduction to legal iconography deals with what might be one of the best known personifications in Western art and/or iconographic history. Justice, Justitia, Lady Justice,… the often blindfolded lady with balance & sword is omnipresent in today’s world of law, and its courthouses, law books, law faculty buildings, newspaper websites and even the bodies of (ex-)convicts. Because of her ubiquitous nature, she became an icon – or as an icon, she became ubiquitous. In this class, we will discuss how this omnipresence came to be, by looking at the origins of both the figure of Justice and her attributes, by interpreting their iconography as symptoms of an underlying legal culture, and by analysing both the general icon of Justice as well as a specific case of Pomeroy’s Justice on the Old Bailey in London.

Readings: Kemp, Martin. 2012. Christ to coke. How image becomes icon. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Introduction (pp. 1-10)

  1. Exempla Iustitae

Since the late middle ages, artists have been asked to depict certain scenes and stories on the walls of courthouses in western Europe, located in Town Halls, Palazzi Comunali, Rathäuser,… Their function, as can be read in an early-fifteenth century description of a local customary law, was to inspire the judges in their task of judging. Originally rhetoric devises, these exempla iustitiae became important examples of good (or bad) judgement, also known as Gerechtigheidsbilder. In this second class, we will look at the history of these exempla, starting with the Last Judgement as the key biblical exemplum. After having discussed the iconographic specificities of several of the most important stories, drawn from diverse sources such as the bible, antique myths, history and legends, we will finish by questioning the function of an exemplum in the modern world by means of a late-nineteenth, early-twentieth century case study.

  1. Visualising the constitution

Much like the notions of ‘law’ and  ‘justice’, a constitution is an abstract thing, and therefore not easily visualised. From the French revolution onwards, however, a certain iconography was used to make the fundamental law visible. This last class first focuses on this ‘revolutionary’ iconography and its somewhat surprising sources. Next, we will look into the a specific part of constitutional iconography, in which artists where commissioned to visualise, in different media, the key moments from constitutional history, often as a means to legitimise that constitution. Drawing on the notions of ‘the constitutional moment’ and ‘the decisive moment’, coined by, respectively, constitutional law scholar Bruce Ackerman, and photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, we will thus analyse what the notion of “the decisive constitutional moment” might be.

Readings: Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel 1987. The Idea of a Constitution. Journal of Legal Education 37 (2):167-169.

Stefan Huygebaert’s CV:

Stefan Huygebaert studied History (UGent, 2006-2007), Art History (UGent, 2007-2011) and Specific Education Degree in History, Art & Music (KULeuven, 2011-2012). He was an intern at the Mu.Zee museum in Oostende, Belgium, during the 2010 James Ensor exhibition Bij Ensor op bezoek. As an art historian, he graduated with a master thesis on neogothicism in nineteenth century painting of the Academy of Brugge.
Since October 2012, he is preparing a PhD thesis at Ghent University, Department of History/Institute for Legal History, titled Art, society & law. An iconological study of continuity & change in Belgian legal iconography, 1787-1914. (Supervisors Prof. Dirk Heirbaut, Prof. Georges Martyn and Prof. Bruno De Wever). This PhD research questions both the national character as well as the continuity and change of the visual language of law & justice in the Southern low countries and Belgium during the long nineteenth century. It is framed within and funded by the Belspo IAP Justice and populations. The Belgian experience in international perspective, 1795-2015. In 2014-2015, Stefan was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, within the Minerva Research Group The Nomos of Images. Manifestation and Iconology of Law, led by Carolin Behrmann. He has published on legal and constitutional iconography and iconology, artistic revivalism and nineteenth-century art.