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Koen Brosens - Associate Professor at the University of Leuven & editor of the Studies in Western Tapestry series

17th and 18th century Flemish Tapestry; entrepreneurial strategies; socioeconomic history; economic sociology; social network analysis

Office: Art History, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21 - box 3313, 3000 Leuven (04.10) 
tel. +32 16 3 24869 or +32 16 3 25050


In 2009, Koenraad (Koen) Brosens (born in 1974) was appointed Research Professor in the History of Art Department at the KU Leuven where he teaches European Tapestry, Art & Economics, Costume & Fashion and 19th-Century European Art.

As a Research and Teaching Assistant at KULeuven (1998-2003) and a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research-Belgium (FWO Vlaanderen) (2003-2009), he focused on entrepreneurial strategies devised by early modern European tapestry producers. Together with PhD students Astrid Slegten and Klara Alen, he is now trying to develop a methodology that interfaces traditional tapestry scholarship and art historical methods, on the one hand with the conceptual fabric and digital tools of economic sociology and social network analysis, on the other. In doing so, they explore and try to combine three out of four categories that form ‘the digital humanities’, that is, spatial analysis (historical mapping using the technology of Geographic Information Systems), image analysis and network analysis. This new method will allow the development of a new inclusive view on early modern Flemish tapestry that is likely to move beyond tapestry scholarship proper, as it may become a subject in the burgeoning debates on the economics of painting and the development of creative cities and industries in pre-capitalist societies.

Koen Brosens has published widely on the subject of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Flemish and French tapestry. His bibliography includes A contextual study of Brussels tapestry, 1670–1770. The dye works and tapestry workshop of Urbanus Leyniers (1674–1747) (Brussels, 2004), European Tapestries in The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, New Haven and London, 2008), Rubens: The Constantine Series (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard, XIII) (London, 2011), and several articles in peer-reviewed journals such as The Burlington Magazine, Textile History, Studies in the Decorative Arts, and Simiolus. He is now writing a book on the 18th-century Brussels painter and tapestry designer Maximiliaan de Hase.

He has also presented papers at several international conferences focusing on tapestry and painting. Most recently he contributed to the Facts & Feelings (Leuven; December 2012), Jordaens and the Antique (Brussels; December 2012) and Rubens’s Triumph of the Eucharist (Sarasota; March 2012) symposiums. He is now organizing an international conference on 18th-century tapestry that will be held at the University of California-Berkeley in November 2013.

Together with emeritus professor Guy Delmarcel, Koen Brosens is editor of the Studies in Western Tapestry series (Brepols) and the corresponding website (with assistance of Klara Alen).

In 2007, Koen Brosens was a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (fall 2007), and he will be Rubens Chair at the University of California Berkeley in the fall of 2013. In 2010 he was elected as a Laureate of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts. He is member of the Académie royale d’archéologie de Belgique, the Flemish Young Academy and the Global Young Academy.

Koen Brosens lives in Heverlee near Leuven where he absorbs Bob Dylan’s oeuvre and enjoys everyday life with his wife and son.