In the Gallery at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library
THE TRIUMPH OF ISABELLA:
An Exhibit Exploring Performance through Art
In 1615 an elaborate procession took place on the streets of Brussels captured by painter Denis van Alsloot in a series of six large paintings. One of those paintings became an important historical document for both theatre and art historians due to its many pageant wagons featuring scenes from history, religion, and mythology. Along with a full scale reproduction of that central painting, graduate students at the University of Maryland in the School of Theatre, Dance, & Performance Studies have recreated elements of the painting for display in this exhibit, which will run from June 6, 2018 through May 2019.
This exhibit seeks to provide some cultural context for 17th century Brussels while also providing an understanding of theatrical process by showing how designers work as they recreate certain parts of this extravagant event from history. The high resolution scan provided by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has allowed our students and faculty to study these unique visual documents in minute detail. Additionally, the exhibit focuses on the ways in which artist-scholars use the resources of libraries and museums to enrich their understanding of performance.
The full series of paintings is entitled, Ommegang in Brussels on 31 May 1615. The purpose of this ommegang, or procession, was to celebrate the Archduchess Isabella, ruler of the Spanish Netherlands. These paintings are a unique record of theatre and society from a key moment in European history. Learning about the political landscape, the craft guilds, and the stagecraft of such an elaborate procession helps us understand what shaped the culture of that time.
The International Program for Creative Collaboration and Research (IPCCR) in the School of Theatre, Dance, & Performance Studies (TDPS) has initiated this exhibition in collaboration with the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, with assistance from the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, and Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. This exhibit is curated by Performing Arts Librarian, Drew Barker.