Workshop: Shades of Purple. Purple Ornament in Medieval Manuscripts, University of Zurich, 25-26 November 2021

This two-day workshop, organized by the research group Textures of Sacred Scripture – at the University of Zurich will explore a range of questions about the materials and semantics of medieval purple manuscripts.

Recent advances in the material analysis of purple colorants have spurred new interest in the aesthetics of purple ornament in medieval manuscripts. This most prestigious embellishment associated with imperial splendor underwent stunning transformations between the 6th and the 12th century. Purple dyes (mostly produced from lichens) were not only used to color the entire parchment surfaces of sacred books, but purple colorants were also used selectively to highlight specific texts, pages and miniatures corresponding to the content, topology, imagery, and script of individual manuscripts. Various techniques and methods were employed to create multi-sensory purple textures, combining shades of purple from red to dark blue and evoking different purple-colored materials such as silks and porphyry.

Registration is required by 22.11.2021:
A COVID-19-certificate is mandatory for participants attending in person.
A Zoom link will be provided for participants unable to attend in person.


Day 1 | 25 Nov. 2021 | 09:00-16:50 (CET)

09:00 – 09:30
David Ganz (UZH) & Thomas Rainer (UZH)

09:30 – 10:20
Bridging the Gap: The Identification and Technology of Purple Parchment on the Example of the Vienna Genesis (Austrian National Library, Cod.Theol. Gr. 31)
Christa Hofmann (ÖNB) & Maurizio Aceto (Università degli Studi del Piemonte Orientale, Alessandria)

Coffee Break

10:50 – 11:40
La pourpre dans les manuscrits d’apparat du haut Moyen Âge : de la caractérisation physico-chimique des matériaux à leur interprétation symbolique et sémantique
Charlotte Denoël (BnF) & Patricia Roger-Puyo (IRAMAT-CEB, Orléans)

11:40 – 12:30
The Brightest Colour of all in Medieval Illuminations
Maria João Melo (NOVA, New University of Lisbon) & Paula Nabais (NOVA, New University of Lisbon)

Lunch Break

14:00 – 14:50
Der Comes Parisinus und der Hof König Pippins von Italien
Fabrizio Crivello (Università degli Studi di Torino)

14:50 – 15:40
Shades of Purple in the Vienna Coronation Gospels and the Dagulf Psalter
Thomas Rainer (UZH)

Coffee Break

16:00 – 16:50
Aurea purpureis pinguntur scedis: The Apocalyptic Significance of the Godescalc-Evangelistary at Saint-Sernin of Toulouse
Catherine Fernandez (Princeton University)

Day 2 | 26 Nov. 2021 | 09:00-12:40 (CET)

09:00 – 09:50
Rhetoric and the Purple Stripe in the Terentius Vaticanus
Beatrice Radden Keefe (UZH)

09:50 – 10:40
The Astor Lectionary (New York Public Library)
Joshua O’Driscoll (The Morgan Library and Museum, New York)

Coffee Break

11:00 – 11:50
Die purpurnen Flüsse – Topologie von Porphyr-Purpur und Purpur-Topoi im Evangeliar Kaiser Heinrichs II. und verwandten Handschriften
Stefan Trinks (Humboldt Universität, Berlin)

11:50 – 12:40
Purple Aesthetics in Middle Byzantine Manuscripts
Joseph Kopta (Temple University, Philadelphia)

Organized by Textures of Sacred Scripture
Funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation
With support of University of Zurich

More information can be found here.


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