Online Lecture: “Masters in Miniature”, SIMS Lecture Series, Bryan C. Keene, February 11th 2022, 1-2:30pm EST

The Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies is pleased to announce the next lecture in its Online Lecture Series, presented in partnership with Center for Italian Studies and the Italian Studies section of the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Pennsylvania:

Masters in Miniature: Future Horizons for Italian Manuscript Studies
Bryan C. Keene, Riverside City College 

Friday, February 11, 2022
1:00 – 2:30 pm via Zoom

This lecture centers on the historiography and future of Italian manuscript illumination with the goal of suggesting new methods of attribution and assessment for art historians, dealers, and collectors. The Philadelphia area collections and BiblioPhilly initiative provide ample inspiration for scholars of this material and will form a cornerstone of this presentation. Within the corpus of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550 and 1568), one reads the biographies of several illuminators, including Lorenzo Monaco, Fra Angelico, the painters of service books for the Sistine Chapel, and Giulio Clovio, the last of whom Vasari called “Michelangelo in miniature.” A present-day counterpart to the Lives is the Dizionario biografico dei miniatori italiani (ed. Milvia Bollati, 2004), which provides biographies of nearly four hundred named artists working from the 9th through 16th century. About one third are documented as illuminators, while another third are recorded as painters and as illuminators, separately, and the final third are assigned by art historians (based on signatures, connoisseurship, or other means). In addition, there are over two hundred and fifty anonymous maestri christened by scholars. Many studies have been informed by the Dizionario and dozens of new artists have since come to light.  

A specific focus of this paper will be an assessment of the geographic organization by “schools” in the published catalogues of various collections, such as Cambridge (UK), the Cini Foundation, and Kupferstichkabinett collections, and several private holdings. In each, the collaborative nature of manuscript production—by artists, scribes, and other craftspeople from different neighborhoods or regions—is often overshadowed by the career of individual illuminators. A discussion of exhibitions will also be offered, and a vision for future digital collaborations will form the conclusion.

For more information and to register, please visit the link.


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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