Book Series Distinguished Contributions to the Study of the Arts in the Burgundian Netherlands, vol. 4

Images and Indulgences in Early Netherlandish Painting

Miyako Sugiyama

  • Pages: iv + 193 p.
  • Size:220 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:10 b/w, 126 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2021

  • ISBN: 978-1-912554-58-4
  • Hardback
  • Available


“Das Werk bildet sicherlich eine anschauliche und anregende Galerie von zumeist in den  iederlanden entstandenen Ablassbildern und -objekten und verdeutlicht somit die hohe Relevanz der Ablasspraxis im Rahmen des religiösen Lebens des Spätmittelalters. Auch ist sehr zu begrüßen, dass dieses Phänomen im kunsthistorischen Diskurs an Präsenz gewinnt und von einer aus Japan stammenden und in Japan wirkenden Kunsthistorikerin untersucht wird.” (Étienne Doublier, in Sehepunkte, 23/3/2023)

“(…) these reservations, this volume remains a worthy contribution that will no doubt provide a valuable starting point for future studies on this overlooked corpus.” (Emma Capron, in Historians of Netherlandish Art Reviews, March 2023)


Miyako Sugiyama is an art historian specializing in early Netherlandish art. She received her Ph.D. in Art Science from Ghent University in 2017. She was the recipient of a Flemish government scholarship (2013–14), a Kress Foundation Travel Grant (2016), and a Japan Student Services scholarship (2015–17). She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo. Her research focuses on the functions of images and the relationships between art and devotional practices in the Netherlands in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.


This book demonstrates the relationships between images and indulgences in fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Netherlandish art. In the Roman Catholic Church, indulgences served as a way to reduce temporal punishment in purgatory for one’s sins. Indulgences could be obtained by reciting prayers and performing devotional practices. Penitents could earn this type of devotional indulgence with the aid of paintings and other artifacts that possessed theological, historical, and aesthetic values as well as performative and promissory ones. In this study, we explore not only the power of indulgenced images but also the power of their audiences, creating a way to communicate with the divine.