Monthly Archives: October 2019

CFP: ‘Working Materials and Materials at Work in Medieval Art and Architecture’, 25th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 7 February 2020

RP-P-OB-963 detail

Master of Balaam, Saint Eligius in his Workshop (detail), c. 1440-1460. Engraving, 11.5 x 18.5 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (RP-P-OB-963)

Call for papers: The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 25th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium: Working Materials and Materials at Work in Medieval Art and ArchitectureThe Courtauld Institute of Art, 7 February 2020

Deadline: 22 November 2017

Materials mattered in the Middle Ages. Only with the right materials could artists produce works of art of the highest quality, from jewel-encrusted crosses, gilded and enamelled chalices and ivory plaques to large-scale tapestries, wooden stave churches and stone cathedrals. This conference seeks to explore the qualities and properties of materials for the people who sourced, crafted and used them.

A critical examination of the physical aspect of materials, including stone, wood, metal, jewels, and textiles, can lead art historians to a deeper understanding of objects and their context. Medieval materials did not function as frictionless vehicles for immaterial meaning: materials, their sourcing, trade and manufacture all contributed to the reception and value of the object. In the vein of scholars like Michael Baxandall (The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany, 1980) and more recently Paul Binski (Gothic Sculpture, 2019), this conference asks participants to ground their papers in the messy realities of crafting materials, and to situate the object and its materials within a network of social, political and economic factors.

The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 25th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium invites speakers to build out from the object and consider the ways in which physical materials were used, manipulated and interpreted by craftspeople, patrons and audiences throughout the medieval world (understood in its broadest geographical and chronological terms). The colloquium encourages contributions from a range of backgrounds including but not limited to the art historical, technical, scientific and economic. Speakers are invited to consider the following and related questions:

Sourcing and Trade

  • What economic factors determined the value of medieval materials?
  • How did geography and trade impact the availability and use of materials?
  • How and in what quantities were materials sourced and did that affect the form and function of the art object?
  • How was the quality of materials determined and controlled?
  • Was trade in certain materials restricted to certain classes or groups of people?

Crafting and Making

  • How did the physical and technical requirements of working with different media shape objects for artists and how attuned were viewers to those requirements?
  • What technical virtuosity and experience did different materials demand and how did craftspeople learn and pass on these skills?
  • Did technical virtuosity affect the value of the object?
  • What do we know of the tools craftspeople used? Were the same tools used in different places and in different periods? What effect does this have on the use and shape of materials?
  • Medieval craftsmen occasionally manipulated certain materials to resemble others. Was this process of imitation always obvious to medieval viewers and how did they interpret this?

Function and Manipulation

  • How did the spaces or locations for which objects were intended shape the choice of materials?
  • Did the function of an object determine the materials of which it was made?
  • Were certain materials more attractive to certain patrons than others and why?
  • Do some medieval objects reveal deliberate references to their facture?
  • How did different materials cater to each of the senses?
  • Did materials always matter – is there a competitive/contested relationship between material reality and immaterial imagination?

The colloquium offers an opportunity for research students at all levels from universities across the United Kingdom and abroad to present, discuss and promote their research. To apply, please send a proposal of up to 250 words for a twenty-minute paper, together with a CV, to Harry.Prance@courtauld.ac.uk, Nicholas.Flory@courtauld.ac.uk and Charlotte.Wytema@courtauld.ac.uk no later than 22 November 2019.

CFP: Travelling Objects, Travelling People: Art and Artists of Late Medieval and Renaissance Iberia and Beyond, c. 1400–1550, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 28–29 May 2020

CALL FOR PAPERS

Deadline – Friday 10 January 2020

Anonymous Portuguese cartographer, Cantino Planisphere (detail), ca. 1502. Map on parchment, 220 x 105 cm. Biblioteca Estense Universitaria, Modena, Italy. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Travelling Objects, Travelling People aims to nuance our understanding of the exchanges and influences that shaped the artistic landscape of Medieval and Renaissance Iberia. Traditional narratives hold that late fifteenth-century Iberian art and architecture were transformed by the arrival of artists, objects and ideas from France and the Low Countries, while 1492 marked a chronological rupture and the beginning of global encounters. Challenging these perceptions, this conference will reconsider the dynamics of artistic influence in late medieval Iberia, and place European exchanges in a global context, from Madeira to Santo Domingo. Bringing together international scholars working on Spain, Portugal and a range of related geographies, it seeks to address the impact of ‘itinerant’ artworks, artists and ideas, and issues of migration and non-linear transfers of materials, techniques and iconographies.

The theme of ‘travellers’—artists who reached or departed the region, at times more than once in their lives, but also objects and concepts imported and exported—will expand and inflect traditional narratives of late medieval and Renaissance art, underscoring the complexity of global interactions and exchanges which connected the Iberian peninsula to Europe and beyond. Bringing together international scholars working on Iberia and a range of related geographies, the conference seeks to address the impact of ‘itinerant’ artworks, artists and ideas, and to expand the field of analysis beyond Europe to encompass relationships with newly acquired dominions, from Madeira to Santo Domingo.

Topics for papers may include, but are not limited to:

  • Iberian artists employed abroad, from the master mason Guillelm Sagrera in Naples, to the sculptor Juan de la Huerta at the Chartreuse de Champmol
  • The close imitation of northern artists in such works as the Portuguese copies of Quentin Metsys’s The Angel Appearing to Saints Clara, Colette and Agnes (early 16th century, Museu de Setúbal / Convento de Jesus, Portugal)
  • ‘Iberian’ objects produced elsewhere, for example Christian ivory carvings made in Goa or Kongo, Afro-Portuguese spoons, and Mexican ‘feather-work’ adopting the vocabulary of northern European late Gothic painting
  • Works made for a non-Iberian audience but purchased and displayed by local patrons.

By encouraging conversations across such seemingly disparate topics and geographies, the conference aims to position the Iberian artistic landscape within the networks of artistic exchange that spanned the medieval and Renaissance worlds, challenging the significance of 1492 as a moment of rupture between the Middle Ages and Early Modern periods.

Proposals are welcome from postgraduate, early-career and established researchers working in all relevant disciplines. Please send a title and an abstract of no more than 300 words together with a short CV and 100-word biography to Costanza.Beltrami@courtauld.ac.uk and Sylvia.Alvares-Correa@history.ox.ac.uk by Friday 10 January 2020.

Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length. Successful candidates will be notified by 17 February. In the first instance, applicants are encouraged to apply to their home institution for travel and accommodation funding. The organisers hope to provide financial support for travel and accommodation to speakers who require it. This conference is made possible by the kind generosity of Sam Fogg.

Please click here for more information.

New Publication: Kirstin Kennedy, Alfonso X of Castile-León: Royal Patronage, Self-Promotion and Manuscripts in Thirteenth-century Spain (Amsterdam University Press, 2019)

9789462988972_promAlfonso X ‘the Learned’ of Castile (1252–1284) was praised in his lifetime as a king who devoted himself to discovering all worldly and divine knowledge. He commissioned chronicles and law codes and composed poems to the Virgin Mary, he gathered together Jewish scholars to translate works of Arab astrology and astronomy, and he founded a university of Latin and Arabic studies at Seville. Moreover, according to his nephew Juan Manuel, Alfonso was careful to ensure that ‘he had leisure to look into things he wanted for himself’. The level of his personal involvement in this literary activity marks him out as an exceptional patron in any period. However, Alfonso’s relationship with the arts also had much in common with that of other thirteenth-century European royal patrons, among them his first cousin, Louis IX of France. Like his contemporaries, he relentlessly used literary works as a vehicle to promote his royal status and advance his claim to the imperial crown. His motivation for the foundation of the university at Seville was arguably political rather than educational, and instead of promoting institutional learning during his reign, Alfonso preferred to direct the messages about his kingship in the lavish manuscripts he patronized to a restricted, courtly audience. Yet such was the interest of the works he commissioned, that those who could obtain copies did so, even if these were still incomplete drafts. Three codices traditionally held to have been copied for Alfonso in fact show how this learning reserved for the few began to filter out beyond the Learned King’s immediate circle.

Kirstin Kennedy is a curator of metalwork (specializing in silver) at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. She previously held a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at King’s College London, in the Department of Spanish and Spanish American Studies (2000–2003).

Please click here for more information.