Book Roundup: Summer 2015

9780300209891[1]Postcards on Parchment The Social Lives of Medieval Books by Kathryn M. Rudy (Yale University Press)

Medieval prayer books held not only the devotions and meditations of Christianity, but also housed, slipped between pages, sundry notes, reminders, and ephemera, such as pilgrims’ badges, sworn oaths, and small painted images. Many of these last items have been classified as manuscript illumination, but Kathryn M. Rudy argues that these pictures should be called, instead, parchment paintings, similar to postcards. In a delightful study identifying this group of images for the first time, Rudy delineates how these objects functioned apart from the books in which they were kept. Whereas manuscript illuminations were designed to provide a visual narrative to accompany a book’s text, parchment paintings offered a kind of autonomous currency for exchange between individuals—people who longed for saturated color in a gray world of wood, stone, and earth. These small, colorful pictures offered a brilliant reprieve, and Rudy shows how these intriguing and previously unfamiliar images were traded and cherished, shedding light into the everyday life and relationships of those in the medieval Low Countries.

Kathryn M. Rudy is senior lecturer in the School of Art at the University of St. Andrews


6b5bf994aa[1]Rogier van der Weyden and the Iberian kingdoms (Prado)

Rogier van der Weyden y los reinos peninsulares (Rogier van der Weyden and the Iberian kingdoms) accompanies the recent show at The Prado in Madrid, and consists of two texts by the exhibition curator Lorne Campbell, who is hailed as the leading specialist on the master of Tournai: Vida y obra de Rogier van der Weyden (Life and oeuvre of Rogier van der Weyden) and Rogier van der Weyden y los reinos ibéricos (Rogier van der Weyden and the Iberian kingdoms), which will introduce readers to the artist and his relationship with Spain. It also features a text by Carmen García-Frías, curator of painting at Patrimonio Nacional, entitled La recuperación de una obra maestra: el Calvario del monasterio del Escorial de Rogier van der Weyden (The restoration of a masterpiece: Rogier van der Weyden’s Calvary in the Monastery of El Escorial).

It also includes catalogue entries for the works on show written by Lorne Campbell, José Juan Pérez Preciado, Pilar Silva and Stephan Kemperdick.


1430902501[1]La Picardie flamboyante: Arts et reconstruction entre 1450 et 1550 edited by Étienne Hamon, Dominique Paris-Poulain et Julie Aycard (Presses Universitaires de Rennes)

At the turn of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Picardy experienced a tremendous economic and artistic revival. This book offers new insights into the institutions, artists, sponsors, infrastructures and works of art that were players and products of the long-lived “Flamboyant” Style.

Philippe Racinet et Julie Colaye La reconstruction économique en Picardie (1450-1550) L’exemple du prieuré de Bray-sur-Aunette au diocèse de Senlis

Juliette Maquet Une seigneurie picarde au sortir de la guerre de Cent Ans Boves, 1453-1454

Christophe Cloquier Le cours de la Somme Une voie fluviale privilégiée au cœur de la Picardie flamboyante, entre 1450 et 1550

Jean-Christophe Dumain Laon au lendemain de la guerre de Cent Ans L’apport des archives comptables pour l’étude d’une reconstruction (1450-1500)

Mathieu Beghin Regards croisés sur deux chantiers urbains de la Picardie flamboyante Amiens et Arras (vers 1500-vers 1550)

Emmanuel de Crouy-Chanel Tours de la Haye, de Guyancourt et du Kay Les « grosses tours » de la ville d’Amiens (1476-1490)

Karine Berthier Les aménagements de la porte Montrescu à Amiens à la fin du xve siècle et au début du xvie siècle

Mathieu Deldicque Quelques jalons dans l’étude du mécénat des grands commanditaires picards, de Louis XI à Louis XII

Dominique Paris-Poulain Renouveler le décor monumental à l’époque flamboyante L’église Saint-Léger de Lucheux et le mécénat de Marie de Luxembourg

Florian Meunier De Beauvais à Montdidier, l’itinéraire flamboyant de Scipion Bernard

Camille Serchuk À la limite La vie et la carrière de Zacharie de Celers

Julie Aycard Destruction et reconstruction des églises de l’ancien diocèse de Senlis (1460-1515) Mythe et réalité

Jacques Dubois Les grands travaux de restauration de Saint-Samson de Clermont-de-l’Oise

Étienne Hamon Le dessin et l’architecte au soir de l’âge gothique Le projet de portail du fonds de l’hôtel-Dieu d’Amiens

Marie-Domitille Porcheron Flamboyance de l’architecture dans les Puys de Picardie Fonds de tableaux, haut-relief, cadres, menuiseries

Kristiane Lemé-Hébuterne Construction et ornementation des stalles en Picardie à la fin du xve et au début du xvie siècle Continuité ou innovation

Alexandra Gérard et Jennifer Vatelot Les retables en bois sculpté polychromé du xvie siècle de l’Oise Étude et restauration des exemples du Vaumain et de Labosse

Françoise Lernout La Vierge en prière du musée de Picardie, une iconographie singulière?


Fallen Idols, Risen Saints: Sainte Foy of Conques and the Revival of Monumental Sculpture in Medieval Art by Beate Fricke (Brepols)

dIS-9782503541181-1[1]This book presents an analysis and contextualization of the revival of monumental sculpture in medieval art, and outlines the history of image culture, visuality and fiction.

This book investigates the origins and transformations of medieval image culture and its reflections in theology, hagiography, historiography and art. It deals with a remarkable phenomenon: the fact that, after a period of 500 years of absence, the tenth century sees a revival of monumental sculpture in the Latin West. Since the end of Antiquity and the “pagan” use of free-standing, life-size sculptures in public and private ritual, Christians were obedient to the Second Commandment forbidding the making and use of graven images. Contrary to the West, in Byzantium, such a revival never occurred: only relief sculpture – mostly integrated within an architectural context – was used. However, Eastern theologians are the authors of highly fascinating and outstanding original theoretical reflections about the nature and efficacy of images. How can this difference be explained? Why do we find the most fascinating theoretical concepts of images in a culture that sticks to two-dimensional icons often venerated as cult-images that are copied and repeated, but only randomly varied? And why does a groundbreaking change in the culture of images – the “revival” of monumental sculpture – happen in a context that provides more restrained theoretical reflections upon images in their immediate theological, liturgical and artistic contexts? These are some of the questions that this book seeks to answer.The analysis and contextualization of the revival of monumental sculpture includes reflections on liturgy, architecture, materiality of minor arts and reliquaries, medieval theories of perception, and gift exchange and its impact upon practices of image veneration, aesthetics and political participation. Drawing on the historical investigation of specific objects and texts between the ninth and the eleventh century, the book outlines an occidental history of image culture, visuality and fiction, claiming that only images possess modes of visualizing what in the discourse of medieval theology can never be addressed and revealed.

As usual please do send any suggestions for books to feature in this most irregular feature to – don’t be shy!

Published by James Alexander Cameron

I am an art historian working primarily on medieval parish church architecture. I completed my doctorate on sedilia in medieval England in 2015 at The Courtauld Institute of Art.

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