Artibus et Historiae no. 78 (XXXIX)

2018, ISSN 0391-9064

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- An Opening Remark (Dulcia Meijers) (pp. (pp. 9–10))

Festschrifts form a longstanding academic tradition to bid farewell to a colleague or professor who has made a significant contribution to his or her field of study. Keeping it secret as long as possible for the one who is being celebrated is part of that tradition. I am convinced that this ‘conspiracy’ will come as a big surprise to Bernard Aikema. Firstly, because this issue of A&H consists of articles and essays written by either budding or already well-established scholars who were all or still are students of his. Secondly, although he will feel deeply honored and touched, it may slightly unsettle him since it anticipates his imminent retirement in approximately a year: A moment he is absolutely dreading! One of the additional attractions of his appointment of chiara fama in Italy, at the University of Verona, was the difference in retirement age between the Netherlands and Italy. Initially 72, now 70, these extra years were for him a precious and welcome extension to the Dutch retirement age of 65. This Festschrift pays an eloquent tribute to his lifelong love and passion for teaching, and his dedication to his students.

An initiative like this inevitably misses out on former students who would have loved to contribute, but lacked for one reason or another the time or the opportunity to do so. To trace and track down all the students in the different cities where Bernard taught or is teaching: Nijmegen in the Netherlands, Louvain in Belgium and Verona in Italy, was in and by itself already quite an enterprise. All my praises go to the two editors of this volume, Carlo Corsato and Juliette Ferdinand, who lovingly took it upon them to initiate this enterprise and scout for the students as well as a publisher. The variety and broadness of Bernard’s research that he also brought into the classroom are tellingly echoed in the diversity in topics, scope and approach of the contributions of his students.

When Carlo and Juliette approached me with the request to write an opening remark, I thought: why not? I am after all his very first student, attending a seminar of his in 1975 – Bernard Aikema being a very young professor in his first year at Nijmegen University – on the Venetian Renaissance. And, as a student majoring in art history I was required to participate in a three-week excursion to Florence: I instantly fell in love with Italy. Little did I know then, that I would spend my life sharing this love and passion for Italy and Italian art with that young professor of Venetian art who would become my lifelong companion.

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