Project Navez

The Navez Project is a FWO Junior Research Project. The project is centralized around the correspondence of François-Joseph Navez (1787-1869) – a prominent neoclassical artist and director of the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles in the 19th century. This project seeks to unravel the mysteries of his social connections on Brussels’ art education during this transformative period.

Utilizing a Digital Humanities approach, we will digitize and analyze Navez’s correspondences archived in KBR (the Royal Library of Belgium). Our computational framework will generate machine-readable text and implement natural language processing techniques to unveil the intricate social networks that shaped Navez’s role in three key aspects: his impact on 19th-century art education, his success at the Brussels Académie, and his position as a master in his studio.

By mapping Navez’s network, we aim to shed light on how networking significantly impacted the 19th-century art history of Belgium. This research not only expands our understanding of the interconnectedness of art, education, and society but also contributes innovative methodologies for historical social network analysis.

The project is done in close collaboration with the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (University of Ghent), and ThIS – The Inside Story. Art, Interior & Architecture 1750-1950 research group of the Department of Art, music and theater sciences.

At KBR the project is working with the DIGIT Department to digitize and valorize the collection of letters in cooperation with the Manuscript Department and in close liaison with the Digital Research Lab. 

PI: Prof. dr. Julie M. Birkholz

Researcher: Fien Messens (PhD student)