Symposium: “Intersections: Encounters with Medieval and Renaissance Textiles, 1100-1550”, The 28th Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Monday 22nd May 2023, 9am-6:30pm (BST)

During the Middle Ages and Renaissance, textiles wrapped up and coated walls, people, furniture, and objects. They provided omnipresent, and often complex, symbolic and visual demarcations of spaces. Diplicare, the root of display, is in unfolding: so much of the frameworks of how we surround ourselves are rooted in practices using cloth. The value of these textiles, both in their materiality and craftsmanship, exceeded that of many other artforms which have been privileged by scholars. Textiles were often disregarded in art historical study, considered to be visually unappealing or discredited in previous centuries as part of the decorative arts. In addition, only a fraction of the textiles that functioned in these spaces survive, many of which are in a fragmented state.

In recent years, textiles have received more attention in art historical studies, and block buster exhibitions on tapestries have made the importance of textiles clear to a wider public. There are, however, still many new angles from which we can interrogate and discuss textiles which can enrich, connect, and reframe not only textile history but wider research subjects in Medieval and Renaissance studies.

In this symposium we would like to draw together varying angles of research through their intersections with textiles, in whatever capacity. The theme of this symposium centres on how Medieval and Renaissance textiles, real and depicted, combine, overlap or intersect in different ways. In short, it aims to interrogate how textiles get entangled with other people, arts, materials, objects and functions.

Organised by Jessica Gasson (The Courtauld) and Julia van Zandvoort (The Courtauld). 

Generously supported by Sam Fogg.

Tickets are free, but essential. Register here.

Please find a complete programme below:

9.00 – Opening remarks

Secular Textiles
9.15 – 10:40 Panel 1 – Networks and trade /collecting of textiles

Key Note Samuel Cohn
Textiles, Piety, and Memory in Late Medieval Tuscany

Julia van Zandvoort
‘Per la gran furia di compratori’: Obtaining Flemish Tapestries in Sixteenth-century Italy, the case of the Van der Molen firm (1538-1544)

Nina Reiss – Trojan War tapestries (production / trade)
The ‘intersecting geographies’ of the tapestries of the Trojan War – tapestry
production between Paris and Tournai

10.40-11.00 Panel discussion

11.00-11.30 Tea Break

11:35 – 13:00 Panel 2 – Textiles in secular settings

Chiara Stombellini
(Re-)Weaving Ritual Paths: Silk Textiles as Markers of Ceremonial Space in Late Medieval Venice

Pauline Devriese
The stink of the cities – secondary scenting of domestic textiles in Europe

Karina Pawlow
Textile and glass interweaved. Entanglements of two arts in Renaissance Venice

13.00-13.20 Panel discussion

13.20-14.20 Lunch break

Religious Textiles
14:25 – 15:50 Panel 3 – Textiles and ritual function / iconography

Jessica Gasson
Tapestries on the altar: exploring the design and use of the Louvre Virign of the Living Water and the Sens Three Coronation tapestries

Julie Glodt
Overlapping Incarnation and Consecration Textiles, Images and Gestures around the Cluny Museum’s Corporal Case (13th century)

Aimee Clark
“The Garden of the Incarnation and the Conversion of the Heart: The Mass of Saint Gregory”

15.50-16.10 Panel discussion

16.10-16.30 Coffee break

16:35 – 17:55 Panel 4 – Reassembling Religious Textiles

Mireia Castano Martine
Fragmentation and reconstruction of an embroidered altar frontal

Jeroen Reyniers
Many layers of textiles. The relic treasure of Herkenrode in Hasselt (Belgium) revealed through material technical research

Jordan Quill
At the Intersection of Political and Ritual functions of textiles: Sensory Experiences of Textiles in the Sumtsek at Alchi, Ladakh

17.55-18.15 Panel discussion

18.15-18.25 Closing remarks

18.30 Wine reception


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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