Maarten Delbeke

Member of GEMCA

Ghent University
Professor, architecture

Maarten Delbeke (1970) studied architecture at the Architecture and Urban Planning Department of the Faculty of Engineering of the Ghent University (now the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture). After his graduation in 1993 he worked for one year as an architect in training. From 1994-2001 he was an assistant (junior researcher) at the same department, where he obtained his

doctorate in 2001. Between 2001-2003 he was the Scott Opler fellow in Architectural History at Worcester College (Oxford) and between 2003-2009 a post-doctoral fellow with the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders (FWO). In 2004 he was a visiting schilar at the Canadian Centre  for Architecture in Mnontreal. He started teaching at Ghent University in 2005 and at the Art History department of Leiden University the next year. Since 2009 he is associate professor in Ghent, and since 2010 he leads the research project 'The quest for the legitimacy of architecture 1750-1850' at the Leiden University Centre Art and Society (LUCAS).

Research fields

Maarten Delbeke works on the theory of art and architecture of the early modern period up to the nineteenth century. He examines how the nature, features and effects of the visual arts and architecture are conceptualized with regard to other forms of expression, such as literature; how certain art forms, iconographies or motifs -- such as wax sculpture or the representation of martyrdom -- establish bridges and exchanges between different art forms and their cultural context; and how design decisions are justified and explained with regard to that context. An important part of his work deals with the work and persona of Gianlorenzo Bernini, as well as Roman baroque art and art theory. As part of this research he examines artistic exchanges between Italy and the Southern Netherlands. A second focus is the architectural theory of the period 1750-1850. He obtained a Vidi-grant from the FWO to examine how new ideas about the origins of civilisations informed architectural theory.

Academic and scientific responsibilities

  • Associate professor at the Architecture and Urban Planning Department at Ghent University : courses in the Theory of Architecture.
  • Editor-in-chief of Architectural Histories. The Open Access Journal of the European Architectural History Network (
  • Member of the Ghent Early Modern Studies group and the Sarton centre of history of science.
  • Co-supervizor of the federal research project 'The culture of Baroque Spectacle' and partner in the project 'The presence of the baroque in architectural culture 1880-1980', funded by the Australian Research Council.

Most representative publications

The art of religion. Sforza Pallavicino and art theory in Bernini’s Rome (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012).

Maarten Delbeke, Minou Schraven (eds), Foundation, Consecration and Dedication in Early Modern Europe, Intersections 22 (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

« Miracle books and religious architecture in the Southern Netherlands. The case of Our Lady of Hanswijk in Mechelen », in: Walter Melion, Karel Enenkel and Celeste Brusati (eds), The Authority of the Word, Intersections (Leiden, Brill, 2011): 559-585.

« Custos Montium. A Prophecy on the Election of Alexander VII in Jean Lepautre’s Depiction of the Chapel of Notre Dame de la Paix in the Louvre », Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte 2009/03: 369-88.

Maarten Delbeke, Evonne Levy, Steven Ostrow (eds), Bernini’s Biographies. Critical Essays. University Park (Pa.): Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006.

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