CFP: Décor and Architecture: Between Adherence and Autonomy (16th and 17th Centuries), Second International Conference

Deadline:  30 April 2017

University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

16-17 November 2017

During the Early Modern Period, décor was considered to be one of the most fundamental elements of architecture. Thanks to décor, architecture could elevate itself beyond simple masonry and claim a superior status. Décor was thus defined as a necessary prerequisite for architecture, rather than a marginal component. History of art, however, has often separated décor-related studies from architecture-related ones, suggesting a de facto rupture between these fields and potentially biasing our understanding of the artistic production by reducing its scope.

The University of Lausanne organizes two international conferences questioning how the relations between décor and architecture were defined and implemented in Early Modern Europe. The first session concentrated on the end of the 17th and on the 18th centuries (24th-25th November 2016); the forthcoming one (16th-17th November 2017) will be devoted to the 16th and 17th centuries. The results of these two sessions will be published in a peer-reviewed proceedings volume.

The conditions to which the invention of a décor was subjected varied greatly from one case to another. Indeed, the architects’ prerogatives differed according to the circumstances and constraints imposed on them: while some were largely involved in the invention of the décor, others delegated its conception to artists or workmen. The conference will focus on individual original case studies, but also on more general and thematic approaches. The following questions may be used as a framework for the presentations:

– How were notions such as décor and architecture defined in relation to each other?
– Who was in charge of the invention of a décor and what consequences could a possible sharing of tasks have on the architectural project?
– What consequences could technical constraints linked to architectural practice have on a décor?
– To what extent could theoretical, economical, religious, political and social issues affect the relations between décor and architecture?

The scientific board will pay particular attention to paper proposals which draw upon unpublished primary sources. Proposals concerning the 15th century may be taken into account, if they shed pertinent light on the questions raised in the conference.

Practical details:
Papers will be 30 minutes long, followed by 15-minute discussions. Paper proposals of up to 300 words – accompanied by a brief résumé and list of publications – should be sent to Matthieu LETT (, Carl MAGNUSSON ( and Léonie MARQUAILLE ( before 30th April 2017.

Scientific organisers:
Matthieu LETT (Université de Lausanne, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)
Carl MAGNUSSON (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
Léonie MARQUAILLE (Université de Lausanne)

Scientific committee:
Marianne COJANNOT-LE BLANC (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)
Alexandre GADY (Université Paris-Sorbonne)
Dave LÜTHI (Université de Lausanne)
Christian MICHEL (Université de Lausanne)
Werner OECHSLIN (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich)
Antoine PICON (Harvard University)
Katie SCOTT (The Courtauld Institute of Art)
Marie Theres STAUFFER (Université de Genève)