Online Lecture: The Ship in the Shop – A Brief Art History of Late Medieval Ships in Miniature, Achim Timmerman, Murray Seminars at Birkbeck, 6th May 2021, 4.45pm for 5pm (BST)

This paper newly outlines an art history of late medieval ship models and their contexts of use. Focusing on the mid-thirteenth through early sixteenth centuries in Europe, an age of rapid maritime expansion, it investigates the design and role of miniature vessels at the intersection between devotional practices, courtly culture, modes of patronage, and technological change. It explores three categories of ship models in particular: ex-voto ships that were presented to a specific shrine after a miraculous rescue at sea or naval victory; nefs, which served as princely table decorations and containers of commodities such as salt and spices; and nefs that, subsequent to their use as banqueting props, were repurposed as devotional vessels that either contained relics or possibly functioned as ex-votos.

Achim Timmermann is Professor of the History of Art and Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. A specialist in the art and architecture of the late Middle Ages, he is author of Real Presence: Sacrament Houses and the Body of Christ, c. 1270-1600 (2009) and Memory and Redemption: Public Monuments and the Making of Late Medieval Landscape (2017), as well as over fifty journal articles.

Book your place here.


Published by Ellie Wilson

Ellie Wilson holds a First Class Honours in the History of Art from the University of Bristol, with a particular focus on Medieval Florence. In 2020 she achieved a Distinction in her MA at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialised in the art and architecture of Medieval England under the supervision of Dr Tom Nickson. Her dissertation focussed on an alabaster altarpiece, and its relationship with the cult of St Thomas Becket in France and the Chartreuse de Vauvert. Her current research focusses on the artistic patronage of London’s Livery Companies immediately pre and post-Reformation. Ellie will begin a PhD at the University of York in Autumn 2021 with a WRoCAH studentship, under the supervision of Professor Tim Ayers and Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein.

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