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Call for Papers

Eighteenth International Baroque Summer Course of the Werner Oechslin Foundation

(German version)

“Ornamentum”: Interior Decoration, Programs of Imagery



The Colloquium will take place from Sunday, 25 June, to Thursday, 29 June 2017.

The course is open to doctoral candidates as well as junior and senior scholars who wish to address the topic with short papers (20 minutes) and through mutual conversation. As usual, the course has an interdisciplinary orientation. We hope for lively participation from the disciplines of art and architectural history, but also from scholars of history, theology, theatre and other relevant fields. Papers may be presented in German, French, Italian or English; at least a passive knowledge of German is a requirement for participation.

Conditions: The Foundation assumes the hotel costs for course participants, as well as several group dinners and the excursion. Travel costs cannot be reimbursed.

Please send applications with brief abstracts and CVs by e-mail to:


The CFP deadline is 4 December 2016.

Concept / Organization: Anja Buschow Oechslin, Axel C. Gampp, Stefan Kummer, Werner Oechslin, Martin Pozsgai, Tristan Weddigen


At the beginning of the sixth book, dedicated to ornament, of his De Re Aedificatoria, Leon Battista Alberti remarks that, of the three requirements for building - including utility and stability - the greatest importance lies in beauty, “restat tertia omnium dignissima et perquam valde necessaria.”  Far from speaking of decorative additions or embellishments, he considered this issue just as crucial as those regarding use and construction. Indeed, he leaves no doubt that a building can only achieve perfection in this manner. “Ornamentum” is decisive!

Two things are stated here up front: The “ornamentum” is intimately linked with “pulchritudo,” beauty. It is an aesthetic problem in the “ancient” sense; through sensory perception, one comprehends what makes a sacred or profane, public or private building appropriately and sensibly “beautiful” in each individual case. Alberti considers it superfluous to aim to define beauty more precisely in view of nature, which enchants us with the most varied kinds of beauty every day. There is no doubt one should strive for beauty.

Furthermore, the multiplicity of “possible beauties” eludes closer explanation with the words “fortassis animo apertius intelligemus.” One must want to understand and comprehend it in another way. Out of sheer embarrassment, Alberti lets himself be induced to provide a brief definition. This contains everything that is already fundamentally part and parcel of architecture: “certa cum ratione concinnitas universarum partium in eo”!  Everything should be combined to a whole, comprehensibly and explicably, such that nothing could be removed, added, or changed without drawbacks.

Indeed, this last stipulation for a “real” ornament in no way corresponds to the (modern) concept that assumes it is only something that is added on. With ornament, rather, the whole of a building or a space is fulfilled, and is brought to its intended purpose – to completion.

A major focus will be the interior decoration and programs of imagery in secular, but also sacred architecture. We are also interested in contributions on:

– Prerequisites for design

– Decorum

– Theory

– Iconographic statements

– Skills and responsibilities

– Artistic transfers

– Materials: from mirrors through textiles to stucco

– Color

– Spatial sequences

– Furnishings

– Inventories as sources (for instance, for placement of objects within the room)

– Aspects of use


All of this will be subjected to careful examination with a view to the consummation of a building project as a meaningful whole („cum ratione!“).