Dr Saskia de Bodt (1952) has been named Professor by Special Appointment of Illustration in the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam. The chair has been created by the Fiep Westendorp Foundation.
Saskia de Bodt's research focuses on the visual arts of the period 1850 to 1950, with an emphasis on the Netherlands and Belgium. De Bodt has a strong interest in the applied arts, but focuses mainly late 19th-century painting. In 1995, De Bodt curated a major exhibition in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels on the 19th-century art world in Brussels and particularly the circle of Dutch artists who worked there, based on her thesis Halfway to Paris: Willem Roelofs and the Dutch painters' circle in Brussels 1840-1890 (Halverwege Parijs: Willem Roelofs en de Nederlandse schilderskolonie in Brussel 1840-1890). In 2006, she again broadened her area of interest to collaborate on a publication with the Belgian literary historian Frank Hellemans, entitled Taverne du Passage: Dutch painters and writers in Belgium from 1830 to the present (Ons Erfdeel, 2006).
In recent years, De Bodt has been conducting research primarily on illustrations. She has studied the role of ‘artistic' print books in the early 20th-century reform movement, the illustrations in Dutch editions of the Andersen fairy tales, images of Zeeland in children's books from the inter-war period, and also illustrations in 20th-century adults' books. She has also researched representations of the Netherlands in American illustrations, which reflect cultural views and changes. In the coming years, De Bodt will work on a History of Dutch Illustation, which will map out a comprehensive history of Dutch illustration.
De Bodt has been Assistant Professor at the Institute for Art History and Musicology, and recently in the Department of History and Art History, of Utrecht University. In addition, she has been a writer for the Arts section of the newspaper NRC Handelsblad since 1980. De Bodt has contributed to many exhibitions both in the Netherlands and abroad, and during the 1980s worked as a curator at a number of different museums, including the Applied Arts and Design department of the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum. She has a large number of academic publications. This summer will see the publication of a volume edited by De Bodt entitled Black: Representations of Black People in Dutch illustration 1880-1980 (Zwart: De verbeelding van de zwarte mens in de Nederlandse illustratiekunst 1880-1980), the first in a series on children's books and images. De Bodt is a member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium in Brussels.