Lise Constant


GEMCA research fellow

Faculty of Arts (FIAL)
Institut des civilisations, arts et lettres (INCAL)
Research Fellow FNRS, Art History

PhD Supervision
Ralph Dekoninck (Université catholique de Louvain)
Maarten Delbeke (Universiteit Gent)

Title of the thesis
The power of Marian images. Iconological study of miraculous statues of the Virgin in the Southern Netherlands and the Prince-bishopric of Liège in the 17th century.


Research fields
Marian statuary, Southern Netherlands in the 17th century, functions and uses of religious image, iconology, anthropology of image.

Abstract of the thesis

The Virgin, triumphant figure of the CouStatuaire et lieux de culte marials, Pays-Bas méridionaux au XVIIe siècle, fonctions et usages de l’image religieuse, iconologie, anthropologie de l’image.nter-Reformation is placed at the center of devotions in the 17th century. Protector of monarchies, her worship was particularly supported by the archdukes Albert and Isabella in the Southern Netherlands, as well as in the Prince-bishopric of Liège of the Wittelsbaches. Within this context, plain-looking statues which were nevertheless known for their miraculous powers, are erected at the center of richly ornamented edifices and become the object of a large production of texts and images contributing to the increasing influence of these places of pilgrimage.
The purpose of our study is to understand the role of both the image and its modes of presentation in beliefs in the miraculous power of Marian statues. It will be built on a corpus which gathers statues of the Virgin in the center of a cult in the Spanish Netherlands and the Prince-bishopric of Liège in the 17th century. The analysis of the sanctuaries and preserved statues will go along a critical study of the texts describing them (devotional booklets, miracles accounts,…) as well as of the images representing them (engravings, paintings, ex-voto, pilgrimage drapelets,…).
While approaching the perspective of the works in anthropology of images, we will study the material dimension (material’s input on both animation and presence of the image) and the formal characteristics (role of shaping in the nature of the devotion) of these images-objects, as well as the way their perception is modified by their modes of exhibition (sparkle of the image mise-en-scène and spread of its representations) and by the relationships that happen with and around them in the framework of the cult. Our will is to manage to present a thorough analysis on how these images-objects operate and interact within both the space and ritual contexts to which they belong and through which they make sense.

Most representative publications

« ‘Cette vénérable et charmante petite statue’. Les statues miraculeuses de la Vierge dans les anciens Pays-Bas », Revue Histoire de l’art, 77/2, 2015, p. 101-114.

(Avec Maarten Delbeke, Lobke Geurs et Annelies Staessen) « The architecture of miracle-working statues in the Southern Netherlands », Revue de l’histoire des religions, 2, 2015, p. 211-256.

« Notre-Dame de Luxembourg, une image miraculeuse et ses représentations », dans Isabelle Bernard-Lesceux (coord.), Notre-Dame de Luxembourg. Dévotion et Patrimoine, catalogue d’exposition, Musée diocésain en Piconrue, 10 septembre 2016 – 21 mai 2017, Bastogne, Musée en Piconrue, 2016, p. 93-106.​


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