NAVEZ project

FWO research project centralized around the network of Francois-Joseph Navez (1787-1869) and his influence on the 19th-century art history of Belgium

François-Joseph Navez

Francois-Joseph Navez (1787-1869) was a prominent neoclassical artist and director of the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles in the 19th century. This project seeks to unravel the mysteries of his social connections on Brussels’ art education during this transformative period.

Description and aims of the project

Utilizing a Digital Humanities approach, we will digitize and analyze among others Navez’s correspondences archived in KBR. Our computational framework will generate machine-readable text and implement natural language processing techniques to unveil the intricate social networks that shaped Navez’s success.

By mapping Navez’s network, we aim to shed light on how networking significantly impacted the 19th-century art history of Belgium. This research not only expands our understanding of the interconnectedness of art, education, and society but also contributes innovative methodologies for historical social network analysis.


At KBR the project is working with the DIGIT Department to digitize and valorize the collection of letters in cooperation with the Manuscript Department in close liaison with the Digital Research Lab.

The project is done in close collaboration with the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (Ghent University), and ThIS – The Inside Story. Art, Interior & Architecture 1750-1950 research group of the Department of Art, music and theater sciences.


Prof. dr. Julie M. Birkholz

Fien Messens (PhD student)

Frédéric Lemmers,
KBR, Head of DIGIT