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Valérie Hayaert

Associate researcher
Bodmer Foundation, Geneva
Allegories of Justice in Europe. The symbolic thinking of an incarnate form (ca. 1450 until today)
01 February 2017 -
30 June 2017
Art and art history

Valérie Hayaert is a classicist, historian and humanist researcher of the early modern European tradition. Her particular interest lies in the mens emblematica, the humanist lawyers’ invention of woodcut depictions of legal and theological themes, in the tradition of playful seriousness or serio ludere. She received the EUI Alumni Prize for the best interdisciplinary thesis in 2006. Her book ‘Mens emblematica’ et humanisme juridique was published in 2008. Her subsequent work looked at the aesthetics of justice in courthouses of the early modern period until today. Valérie has taught in Cyprus, Tunisia, England and France and held various positions and fellowships. She is now based in Geneva, and carries out missions for the Institut des Hautes Études sur la Justice (IHEJ, Paris).

Research interests

Legal symbolism, Courthouse architecture, Emblematics and Hermeneutics, Anthropology of Images, cross-cultural perspectives.

Allegories of Justice in Europe. The symbolic thinking of an incarnate form (ca. 1450 until today)

This project aims to discuss the early modern rather diverse concepts and representations of Justice and their relations to practices and processes of trial and punishment. Art works, paintings, sculptures, broadsheet prints, drawings and artifacts played an active role in people’s experience and practice of right and wrong. Portrayals of Lady Justitia, exemplae virtutis and other myths rendered the abstract notions of « law » and « justice » concrete and tangible. City authorities had the greatest painters of their time make prestigious and ambitious scenes of justice to decorate town halls, where justice was administered. Diverse examples derived from Antiquity, the Bible or History were exhibited so as to stimulate judges and aldermen to be fair in the performance of their legal responsabilities. This cross-perspective and multidisciplinary research will lead to a wider reflection on legal symbolism and symbolic spaces in contemporary judiciaries such as the new Cité Judiciaire currently being built by the Renzo Piano building workshop at les Batignolles, in the XVIIIth arrondissement of Paris.

Key publications

Allégories de Justice: le décor de la Grand’Chambre du Parlement de Flandre, avec Antoine Garapon, Paillart, Douai, 2014.

« De l’art de la jurisprudence à celui de l’emblème chez André Alciat et Pierre Coustau : æquiparatio, acumenet satire », dans L’Intime du droit à la Renaissance, Genève, Droz, 2014.

« ‘Calumnia, De famosis libellis’ et ripostes aux attaques injurieuses : la verve satirique de l’emblème », dans textimage, n° 4, été 2010.

‘Mens emblematica’ et humanisme juridique. Le cas du "Pegma cum narrationibus philosophicis" de Pierre Coustau (1555), Genève, Droz, 2008.

Conference organized by V. Hayaert (2016-2017 Paris IAS fellow)
22 Nov 2017 09:00 -
23 Nov 2017 19:00,
Paris :
Bien juger : du symbole aux actes
Workshop organized by I. Podoroga (Paris IAS fellow), with the support of the Centre Jean Pépin (ENS)
07 Jun 2017 10:00 -
07 Jun 2017 18:00,
Paris :
Traduire l’image / dépasser le langage. Art(s), littérature et philosophie
30 May 2017 13:40 -
30 May 2017 15:40,
Florence :
The Effigy of a Penant Judge: From the Juridical Fault to the Public "amended honorable"
Other or several periods
Western Europe