2023 marks the 300th anniversary of the publication of the early eighteenth-century book series Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde, which gained widespread popularity across Europe due to its impressive set of prints created by the renowned engraver Bernard Picart. This milestone offers an opportunity to reflect on the intriguing ceremonies and customs depicted in the Cérémonies, not only for their comparative approach to religion but also for their significance as early modern visual representations of religious rituals.
In line with the commercial aspects of the Enlightenment era, the Cérémonies became part of the evolving book industry, with translations in English, Dutch, and German reaching readers across Europe. Through Picart’s artisanship and the deliberate marketing campaign by Jean Frederic Bernard, the editor, the European Enlightenment not only aimed to disseminate intellectual ideas but also learned to engage with the art market. The engravings in the Cérémonies, functioning as a source of social agency, challenged the public’s perception of religion, sparking comparisons, reflections, and doubts.
In light of this context, our conference seeks to explore the intersections of art, market, and religion in early modernity. We invite researchers from diverse fields to investigate how early modern Europeans perceived and interacted with religious rituals and customs across the globe, in both textual and visual forms. We welcome contributions that examine the role of artistic representations, including engravings, prints, and stage performances, in shaping public conceptions of religion and their impact on the art market. Furthermore, we encourage inquiries into the commercial aspects of knowledge production, the circulation of visual materials, and the broader intellectual trends of the Enlightenment era that influenced the representation of religious ceremonies.
By addressing the art market aspect of the Cérémonies, we aim to foster discussions that shed light on the multifaceted connections between religion, art, and commerce during the early modern period. We anticipate enriching insights into how representations of religious rituals both endorsed and challenged existing knowledge and how the growing interest in religious customs contributed to the development of the early modern art market as well. Additionally, we invite exploration of the shift toward an encyclopedic approach in representing various religious ceremonies and its implications within the broader artistic and intellectual landscape of the Enlightenment era.
Deadline for submissions: October 2, 2023
Notification of acceptance: November 3, 2023
Dates of the conference: May 15-17, 2024