Universiteit Leiden

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Frederik Knegtel

PhD candidate

F.J.L.C. Knegtel MA
+31 71 527 2166

Fields of interest

  • French visual arts and architecture (1600-1800)
  • Agency and performativity
  • The sublime
  • Garden history



My research focuses on the use of architecture in seventeenth-century Paris to overwhelm the contemporary spectator or visitor. The notion of the sublime plays a central role here, and in France – even before Boileau’s 1674 translation of Pseudo-Longinus’ On the Sublime – the concept already had a long history. The idea of the sublime with which seventeenth-century French writers and architects would have been familiar, originated in the Greco-Roman rhetorical tradition. Classical texts on the sublime, such as Longinus’ treatise and other works by philosophers such as Seneca and Lucretius, were studied in Europe relatively early. Latin translations already appeared in Northern Italy in the fifteenth century and reached French readers relatively soon. From that point, in early modern France, the rhetorical sublime became employed as a key notion in various fields: in science, in religion, and in the visual arts.

This project aims to answer several key questions: In which seventeenth-century Parisian architectural projects did the sublime play an important role? Why, by whom, and in what manner did the sublime become employed in these projects? Can we recognize the sublime in the multitude of reactions that these buildings elicited at that time? In my research, I will pay special attention to the political use of sublimity by Louis XIV and his political apparatus. Overwhelming architecture was particularly suitable as an instrument of power: it can evoke strong and often conflicting feelings on the part of the beholder, such as reverence, fear and rapture.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. C.A. van Eck, dr. S.P.M. Bussels, dr. B. van Oostveldt


Teaching activities

  • 2014: Seminar BA2: Navolging, verzet en toe-eigening. Franse architectuur en kunstnijverheid tijdens het Ancien Régime (1600-1789) (French Architecture and Decorative Arts during the Ancien Régime) (Bachelor Art History, Leiden University)


Curriculum vitae

  • 2014-present: PhD candidate ERC Starting Grant program Elevated Minds. The Sublime in the Public Arts in Seventeenth-Century Paris and Amsterdam
  • 2011-2014: Research Master Study of Art and Literature, Leiden University (Cum Laude). Master's thesis: ‘The Labyrinths of Versailles. A study of the sociocultural network behind the creation and use of the Labyrinthe de Versailles’ (supervisor: prof. dr. C.A. van Eck)
  • 2011-2014: Student assistant of prof. dr. C.A. van Eck. Supporting educational activities (such as lectures and exams). Copy and content editing of several academic publications.
  • 2010-2011: Board member (assessor) Leidse Kunsthistorische Vereniging (LKV)
  • 2008-2011: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Art History (Leiden University)

PhD candidate

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Centre for the Arts in Society
  • KG Architectuurgeschiedenis


No relevant ancillary activities

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