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).


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