The War and Art Project

Highlighting the Cultural Effects of Iconoclasm

Featured Exhibit: “Cultural Heritage Lost: Art Iconoclasm During the Dutch Revolt of 1566”

How does iconoclasm erase or censor artistic cultural heritage? In the example of the Dutch Beeldenstorm of 1566, it is important to note that since the artworks were destroyed, depictions of the acts of iconoclasm in progress are, generally, all that remain. There are few visual depictions of the destruction of specific  artworks destroyed. However, several artists made print depictions of the iconoclastic event.


Reviewing all of these works as a collective sample we see, first, the destruction of works, as in Figure 1; second, the modification of a future work that strips any representations of Catholic wealth (Figures 4, 5 and 6); and, third, Coxcie’s example (Figure 4) shows that some elements of sacred vessels are stripped of traditional Catholic iconography and replaced with elements of classical humanism.


So why does this matter? These examples show that artists of the southern Spanish Netherlands after the Beeldenstorm were forced to conform to the restrictions placed on them after the event of iconoclasm. Most of the artists of the northern provinces left The Netherlands altogether. Not only were works destroyed. Artists were forced to modify their art and conform to ecumenical standards.



War and Art Project

University of South Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

© Tiffany Beasley 2022

Contact: ArtShire Substack