National Library of Estonia
June 13–16

Friday June 15 2018

  • 12.00–13.00
    Keynote Lecture by Krista Kodres. Main Conference Hall

    The House of a Tallinn/Reval Wealthy Burgher in the Early Modern Period: Self-Representation and Social Aesthetics
    Krista Kodres, Estonian Academy of Arts


    A dwelling is a complex unity, where the layout as well as the physical, aesthetic, and iconographic features are conceived through the intertwining of space and time, the social and the cultural, the desires of the clients, and the skills and knowledge of the designers and builders. In my paper, I will attempt to unpack this ‘entanglement’, in order to understand how the social, cultural, and aesthetic contexts ‘took form’ in the early modern period in the houses of the Tallinn elite (merchants, burgher masters). What was the agency of the houses and things themselves, and how did they perform in the urban context of Tallinn? Among other things, I will ask why the architectural regeneration of dwellings in Tallinn was comparatively slow. How did the plan of the house and the function of the rooms change in these circumstances? Why were the same architectural and decorative features used in the interior and exterior design of dwellings for over two centuries? What did the iconography of the decor and the interiors ‘speak’ about? More generally, I will ask how the decisions regarding the aesthetics and comfort of the dwellings were made and why was the need for self-representation—clearly apparent in the designs of the dwellings—so important among the Tallinn elite?


    Krista Kodres is a professor at the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture of Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn/Estonia and a senior researcher at University of Tallinn, Institute of Humanities. Her fields of research are history and theory of art and architecture in Early Modern period, history and theory of art history writing, history of Estonian/Soviet art history. She is the editor-in-chief of six-volume edition of “History of Estonian Art” and an author of the books “Beautiful House and Room” (2001), “History of Estonian Art, vol. 2, 1520-1770“ (2005, editor and main author); “Presenting Oneself. The Early Modern Tallinn (Reval) citizen and his house” (2014). Kodres is the author of a chapter in the book „Art History and Visual Studies in Europe. Transnational Discourses and National Frameworks. (eds. M. Rampley et al. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2012).