Online Lecture: Scripture Transformed in Late Medieval England: The Religious, Artistic, and Social Worlds of the Welles-Ros Bible (Paris, BNF FR. 1) by Professor Kathryn A. Smith, Courtauld Institute of Art, 14 October 2020, 5-6pm

Professor Kathryn A. Smith – New York University

Professor Kathryn A. Smith‘s talk brings together my early and more recent research on the manuscript that I call the Welles-Ros Bible (Paris Bibliothèque nationale de France MS fr. 1) — the most complete surviving witness and sole extant illuminated copy of the Anglo-Norman Bible, the “earliest full prose vernacular Bible produced in England” (Russell). Building on the work of biblical and literary scholars, I argue that this grand multilingual manuscript and the revised translation that it contains were produced in the later fourteenth century on the order of one or more matriarchs of the baronial Welles family of Lincolnshire. I discuss the circumstances of the commission and the volume’s functions and intended audience; and show how the Bible’s rich pictorial and heraldic program reframes Christian salvation history as Welles family history. Moreover, the manuscript’s main artist clearly read the scriptural text assiduously, adapting or even rejecting his wide-ranging, trans-regional models in order to visualize for his noble clients both the sense of the vernacular translation and its very words. My talk sheds new light on lay literate and religious aspiration and pedagogy; women’s cultural patronage; artists’ literacy and working methods; the history of bible translation and reception; medieval ideas about gender, sexuality, health, memory, and the emotions; and English art, society, and culture after the Black Death

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Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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