Course Early modern Danish collections – European object biographies in the making


Course leader: Lisbet Tarp

Language: English

Graduate school: Faculty of Arts

Course fee: 0.00 DKK

Status: Course is finished

Semester: Spring 2024

Application deadline: 17/04/2024

Cancellation deadline: 17/04/2024

Course type: Blended learning

Start date: 24/04/2024


All Students are placed on a waiting list until we reach the application deadline. We will contact you again after the deadline.

Registrating is binding

If your registration is finally confirmed, please note that your registration is binding and can only be cancelled due to certain circumstances (for instance illness).

Date: 24th of April 2024, 11.30-14.45

Place: Aarhus University, Langelandsgade 139, building 1580, room 249, 8000 Aarhus C

Lunch (vegetarian) is included when signing up.

The past several decades have witnessed an explosion of interest in the study of historical craftmanship and knowledge implicit in the process of making. Approaches to historical reconstructions, object biographies, collection history, how-to-manuals, and the meaning of materials have been revisited and thus stimulated interdisciplinary efforts in the field of early modern studies.

Based on studies of artefacts from Danish collections, archaeologist Victoria Lyder Tissot and art historian Michèle Seehafer will present examples from their research on preserved animals and European imitation lacquered objects.The presentations will be followed by a roundtable discussion to respond to both the presentations, a circulated draft by Tissot, and a methodological text. It is also the intention to share and discuss general issues, experiences, case studies, and questions in relation to working with early modern European culture.

The topics of discussion might include:

  • - Artistic work by aristocratic women
  • - Artefacts that display exotism or colonialism
  • - The challenges of writing object biographies (natural specimens and artefacts)
  • - The analytical approach to working with an artefact and its written sources
  • - How to describe and use knowledge obtained with methods like reconstructions, sensory experiences, and technical analysis in the studies
  • - How to work with early modern artefacts without a name of the maker, made by women or artefacts with uncertain origin that risk to be marginalized as research topics due to the methodological challenges

We are particularly interested in the attendance of historians and art historians to enrich the discussion on source criticism and artefact/text relations, but we encourage representatives from all disciplines to participate.


11.30-12.00 Lunch

12.00-12.10 Short presentation of the program and introduction

12.10-12.25 Short presentation of a few case studies and a dilemma by PhD fellow Victoria Lyder Tissot

12.25-12.35 A few follow-up questions

12.35-12.50 Short presentation of a few case studies and a dilemma by PhD and curator Michèle Seehafer

12.50-13.00 A few follow-up questions

13.00-13.40 Roundtable discussion: Response to presentations and the shared draft

13.40-14.00 Coffee/tea

14.00-14.45 Discussion of circulated research text and general discussion of working within the early modern field.

Victoria Lyder Tissot is PhD student at Aarhus University. She holds a BA and MA in archaeology. Her PhD project centers around preserved animals once exhibited in the Chamber of Natural Objects (Natural-kammeret) within the Royal Danish Kunstkammer during the period c. 1650-1825.

Michèle Seehafer is senior curator for European Art, 1350–1800 at Statens Museum for Kunst. She received her PhD degree in Art History from the University of Bern, has worked at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich and held research grants from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and Frederiksborg, Museum of National History.

Organisor: Lisbet Tarp, associate professor in Art History, Aarhus University.

The event is financed by the research programme HISTAC at Institute of Culture and Communication, Aarhus University. Website:

The aim of the seminar:

-    The possibility to engage in discussion of the presented case studies and methodological issues (early modern research field/material culture in a historical perspective)
-    Addressing general dilemmas and challenges in the field
-    Meet other junior and senior scholars working with the early modern material

Keywords: 1600-1825, Danish collections, artefacts, natural specimens, handicraft, reconstruction, preserved animals, inventories, object biographies, object agency, craftmanship, women, Dutch-Danish cultural exchange.

Course dates:

  • 24 April 2024 11:30 - 14:45