CONFERENCE: The Art of Law (Bruges, Groeningemuseum, 16-18 Jan 2017)


The Art of Law: Artistic Representations and Iconography of Law & Justice in Context from the Middle Ages to the First World War

In Bruges (Belgium), at the occasion of the art exhibition De Kunst van het Recht, an international conference on the topic of legal iconography is being organized at the Groeningemuseum on 16, 17 and 18 January 2017. The Bruges conference has multiple links to our Law and the Humanities courses. Amongst the organizers are two former teachers within the Rome Law and the Humanities program: professor Georges Martyn and PhD fellow Stefan Huygebaert, both from Ghent University. The conference’s Key Note Speaker will be dr. Carolin Behrmann, who is leading the Minerva Research Group The Nomos of Images at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz (Max-Planck-Institut). Several speakers at the Bruges conference have been fellows within this Nomos of Images research group. One of them, Felix Jäger, was the Law and the Visual teacher in our Law and the Humanities course in 2015.


An introduction on the conference as well as the final program, registration and practical details can be found on the conference

22-23-24 November 2016: Stefan Huygebaert on “The Art of Law: Three Centuries of Justice Depicted”



In the fall of 2016, the Law and Iconography classes in the Roma Tre Law and the Humanities course will be entirely devoted to The Art of Law: Three Centuries of Justice Depicted (De Kunst van het Recht: Drie eeuwen Gerechtigheid in Beeld), an art exhibition which opened at the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium on 28 October, 2016 and will run until 5 February 2017.

We will take a virtual tour through the exhibition, following its structure from the Last Judgement as a key image in late-medieval court rooms, past other so called exempla iustitiae, inspiring images for judges, and a focus on the gruesome story of the Judgement of Cambyses, a depiction of which is one of the Groeningemuseum’s most famous art works. Following the rooms about the execution of justice in the late-medieval and early-modern cities, with abuses of law and long forgotten kinds of punishment, the class will focus on the omnipresent yet intriguing image of Lady Justice, to whom the last exhibition room is devoted. While we will work primarily with art works that are featured in the exhibition, the virtual tour and auditorium format allows us to make short excursions to Italian examples, or to those art works that simply could not be moved to the museum, either because they are an inherent part of a building, or because their seize simply does not fit the museum’s exhibition space.

Key topics that will be discussed are the close link between legal history and religion; the legitimation of judicial power through art; and the function and consequences of iconic legal imagery.


  1. Martyn, Divine Judgement, Worldly Justice, in: Huygebaert, S., Martyn, G., Paumen, V., Van Poucke, T., The Art of Law: Three Centuries of Justice Depicted[exhibition catalogue], Tielt: Lannoo, 2016.
  1. Kemp, From Christ to Coke: How Images become IconsOxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. (Introduction)
  1. Moore, A., & Lloyd, D. (1988). V for Vendetta: Vertigo. (specifically chapter five, pages 37-45, the first 37 pages are optional)


Stefan Huygebaert is an Art Historian (Ghent University, 2011). Since October 2012, he is preparing a PhD thesis at Ghent University, Department of History/Institute for Legal History, titled Visual idea(l)s of Law & Justice. 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. Since October 2015, he is a Flanders Research Fund (FWO) PhD fellow. 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. He has published on legal and constitutional iconography and iconology, artistic revivalism and nineteenth-century art. Recently, he co-edited the exhibition catalogue The Art of Law: Three Centuries of Justice Depicted (Groeningemuseum (Bruges, Belgium) 28-10-16 – 05-02-17).


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).