Monthly Archives: January 2014

Byzantine Studies Symposium, Knowing Bodies, Passionate Souls: Sense Perceptions in Byzantium

Smell 3“Knowing Bodies, Passionate Souls: Sense Perceptions in Byzantium”
Byzantine Studies Symposium | April 25-27, 2014
Symposiarchs: Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Brown University and Margaret Mullett, Dumbarton Oaks.
Byzantine culture was notably attuned to a cosmos of multiple domains:  material, immaterial; bodily, intellectual, physical, spiritual; human, divine. Despite a prevailing discourse to the contrary, the Byzantine world found its bridges between domains most often in sensory modes of awareness. These different domains were concretely perceptible; further, they were encountered daily amidst the mundane no less than the exalted. Icons, incense, music, sacred architecture, ritual activity; saints, imperial families, persons at prayer; hymnography, ascetical or mystical literature:  in all of its cultural expressions, the Byzantines excelled in highlighting the intersections between human and divine realms through sensory engagement (whether positive or negative).

Byzantinists have been slow to look at the operations of the senses in Byzantium, especially those of seeing, its relation to the other senses, and phenomenological approaches in general.  More recently work on smell and hearing has followed, and yet the areas of taste and touch—the most universal and the most necessary of the senses—are still largely uncharted. Nor has much been done to explore how Byzantines viewed the senses, or how they envisaged the sensory interactions with their world. A map of the connections between of sense-perceptions and other processes (of perception, memory, visualization) in the Byzantine brain has still to be sketched out. How did the Byzantines describe, narrate or represent the senses at work? It is hoped to further studies of the operations of individual senses in Byzantium in the context of all the senses, and their place in what the Byzantines thought about perception and cognition. Recent work on dreaming, on memory and on the emotions has made advances possible, and collaborative experiments between Byzantinists and neurological scientists open further approaches. The happy coincidence of a Dumbarton Oaks Garden and Landscape symposium on ‘Senses in the landscape: non-visual experiences’ and of a forthcoming exhibition at the Walters Art Museum on the five senses enable some cross-cultural comparisons to be made involving gardens in Islamic Spain, Hebrew hymnography, Syriac wine-poetry, Mediterranean ordure, and Romanesque and Gothic precious objects—that were not just looked at but also touched, smelled, heard. Architects, musicologists, art historians, archaeologists, philologists, all can contribute approaches to the revelation of the Byzantine sensorium.

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Medieval Hebrew and Medieval Arabic Literature

250px-Logo_MSH_LorraineThe Maison des Science de l’Homme Lorraine is offering 6 month post-doctoral contracts in Medieval Hebrew and Medieval Arabic Literature at €2400 per month.

Deadline for Application: June 2014
Start of Contract: 1 September 2014
All nationalities are welcome to apply.

For more information visit the website.

Publication News: Commentari d’arte 52-53

2776925Commentari d’arte, rivista di critica e storia dell’arte

Anno XVIII, n. 52-53 – maggio-dicembre 2012

Carlo Loiacovo, “Commentari d’Arte”: una rivista aperta ai giovani
p. 4

Giacomo Guazzini, Il coro delle monache di San Pier Maggiore a Pistoia: funzione e percezione di un inedito ciclo decorativo di primo Trecento
p. 5

Anna Sgarrella, Per un riesame del corpus di magister Andriolus tajapiera
p. 22

Silvia De Luca, La Madonna della Misericordia della Pieve di Canoscio: una possibile fonte figurativa per Piero della Francesca
p. 37

Giancarlo Gentilini, Ercole e il centauro ed altre Fatiche: una proposta per Giovanni Bandini scultore in argento
p. 50

Lorenzo Principi, La Madonna delle Grazie di Grottaferrata: una proposta per la gioventù di Giovanni di Biasuccio da Fontavignone
p. 60

Francesco Traversi, Un Crocifisso dei Sangallo a Santa Croce sull’Arno
p. 75

Miles Chappell, Postilla per una copia
p. 82

Alessandro Nesi, Sull’Elemosina del Beato Tommaso da Villanova della Propositura di Scarperia (Firenze): da Cavalori a Coccapani?
p. 86

Andrea Cambi, Torello Macchia (1864-1948): un architetto eclettico
p. 94

Adriano Marinazzo, Ipotesi su un disegno michelangiolesco del foglio XIII, 175 v, dell’Archivio Buonarroti
p. 108

Lanfranco Ravelli, Contributo per Nicola van Houbraken (Messina 1660 –
Livorno 1723)
p. 111

Caterina Zappia, Le Alpi frontiera della bohème
p. 113

Publication News: Giotto and the Flood of Florence in 1333

128119Giotto and the Flood of Florence in 1333 : A Study in Catastrophism, Guild Organisation, and Art Technology by Erling S. Skaug

Giotto di Bondone was the key figure in the transition from medieval to modern in European painting. It is well known that he, on 12 April 1334, was appointed architect of the cathedral of Florence, and that he made a design for the campanile. But it has never been explained why he was offered that task, and at that particular point of time. Was it just an honorary position for the aging artist, shortly before his death? Or was his actual commission to organise the rebuilding of vital parts of the city after the disastrous flood of 4 November 1333 – the worst catastrophe of its kind until the one in 1966? By this angle of approach, based upon the textual evidence of the nomination, it becomes possible to put together several pieces of a puzzle that makes up an entirely new picture of a moment in the history of Florencee. Elements as different as Giotto’s stay at the French court in Naples, the introduction of punched decoration in Florentine painting, the dating of some of his problematic altarpieces, the Florentine painters’ place int he city’s gild structure as shown by their formal titles, and a perhaps surprising glimpse into Giotto’s workshop in its late period can all be shown to be causally connected.

Call for Papers: Gothic Ivories: Content and Context

bb00697b31861884c8d36c4b8c81575e8e759139Gothic Ivories: Content and Contextwhich will take place on Saturday 5 July at The Courtauld Institute of Art, and Sunday 6 July 2014 at The British Museum.

Proposals are invited for papers to be presented at this two-day conference in July 2014, jointly organised by the British Museum and the Courtauld Gothic Ivories Project.
The papers will be presented in themed sessions, with contributions lasting 20 minutes.

Launched on the web in December 2010, the Gothic Ivories Project has played an important part in putting Gothic ivory carving in the limelight and over 3,800 objects are now available online, from hundreds of museums around the world. Following the landmark conference ‘Gothic Ivories: Old Questions, New Directions’ organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum and The Courtauld in 2012, this second conference aims to showcase and celebrate new research in this field.

Papers are invited on a wide range of topics arising from the study of Gothic ivory carving and related to the themes of content and context. If the former is inextricably linked to the latter, especially at the time of creation, their relationship evolves, as the meaning and uses of the objects change over time. Content can be understood as the iconography chosen for a particular sculpture or group of sculptures, and its meaning, and this will apply to medieval as well as later neo-Gothic pieces. Context can refer to the original context, i.e. makers and commissioners, questions of origin and style, relationships with artworks in other media, but also to the later context and history of these objects to the present day (history of collecting, casts and reproductions, museology, for instance), questions of use and reuse over time.

The conference also welcomes papers on artworks carved out of related materials, such as horn, walrus ivory, or bone (for instance, horn saddles, chess pieces or Embriachi work).

Proposals should take the form of a short text (max. 200 words), outlining the paper’s title, the main themes, and the object(s) on which the study will concentrate. Some indication of where the research sits within the historiography would also be of use.

Please send proposals for 20-minute papers of no more than 200 words to Naomi Speakman at and Dr Catherine Yvard at no later than Monday 18 March 2014.

For further information visit the website.

Workshop: Precious Stones in Art and Nature

450px-Spanish_jewellery-Gold_and_emerald_pendant_at_VAM-01Precious Stones in Art and Nature from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Workshop at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, February 12 2014

Max Planck Research Group “Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern Europe”
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Organized by Hannah Baader and Sean Nelson

Precious stones were a source of constant fascination for artists and
natural philosophers in pre-modern Europe. Diamonds, rubies, pearls and
other gems were both visually striking and rich in symbolism. They
served as subjects for painters, as raw materials for jewelers and
sculptors, as components in scientific instruments, and as stimuli for
reflection on the nature of light, colour, and the structure of matter.
Gems were hybrid objects par excellence, blurring the lines between
science and art, and between theory and practice. The talks in this
workshop, given by Sven Dupré and his research group, illustrate this
hybridity with examples drawn from England, France, Italy, and the
Netherlands. The subject matter addressed ranges from the fifteenth to
the eighteenth century, from astronomy to electricity, and from baroque
miniature painting to rococo furniture.


Hannah Baader, Welcome and Introduction

Sven Dupré, Introduction-MPIWG Research Group “Art and Knowledge in Pre-Modern

Moderation: Hannah Baader

14:20 – 14:55
Marjolijn Bol, Gems in the Water of Eden: Traveling the Rivers of Paradise in Early
Netherlandish Painting and Natural Philosophy

14:55 – 15:30
Karin Leonhard, Painted Gems: Portrait Miniature Painting and Baroque Colour Theory

15:30 – 15:50 Coffee Break

Moderation: Sean Nelson

15:50 – 16:25
Sven Dupré, Galileo’s Glass: Light in the Heavens, Precious Stones on Earth

16:25 – 17:00
Michael Bycroft, The Physics of Furniture: Science and the Rococo in the Gemmological
Research of Charles Dufay

17:00 Discussion

Call for Papers: Invention and Imagination in British Art and Architecture, 600-1500

unnamedCall for Papers: Invention and Imagination in British Art and Architecture, 600-1500

This conference will explore the ways in which artists and patrons in Britain devised and introduced new or distinctive imagery, styles and techniques, as well as novel approaches to bringing different media together. It is concerned with the mechanisms of innovation, with inventive and imaginative processes, and with the relations between conventions and individual expression. The conversation will therefore also address the very notions of sameness and difference in medieval art and architecture, and how these may be evaluated and explained historically. 

Topics for discussion can include authorship, creativity, experimentation, envisaging, representation, and regulation by guilds or patrons, as well as case studies of particular objects, buildings, commissions or practices.

The conference will take place on 30th October – 1st November at the Paul Mellon Centre and The British Museum; it will include collaborations with the museum’s Department of Prehistory & Europe and opportunities to see works from the collection. 

Papers should be of 20 minutes’ duration. Proposals/abstracts of 500 words should be submitted to Ella Fleming by 25 March

Conference organised by the Paul Mellon Centre, with Sandy Heslop (University of East Anglia), Jessica Berenbeim (University of Oxford), Lloyd DeBeer and Naomi Speakman (The British Museum)