Category Archives: Book roundup

New Book: Flamboyant Architecture and Medieval Technicality: The Rise of Artistic Consciousness at the End of Middle Ages (c. 1400 – c. 1530), Jean-Marie Guillouët

Flamboyant Architecture and Medieval Technicality: The Rise of Artistic Consciousness at the End of Middle Ages (c. 1400 – c. 1530)

By Jean-Marie Guillouët

xviii + 200 p., 70 b/w ills, 43 colour ill., 216 x 280 mm, 2019

ISBN 978-2-503-57729-6

More Info:

This book seeks to further our understanding of the socio-genesis of artistic modernity by turning to microhistory. It explores a late-medieval decorative procedure that emerged and spread in northern and central France from the early fifteenth century to the start of the following century. Using the well-known miniature, the Building of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem from the fifteenth-century codex of Les Antiquités judaïques as a starting point, this study deals with architecture and technical knowledge of builders. This investigation unpacks and reveals many aspects of the technical and visual culture of late medieval craftsmen and artists. The virtuosic skills these artisans displayed are worthy of inclusion in the development of technical practices of Flamboyant Gothic architecture. They also reflect broader cultural and social configurations, which go far beyond the history of building. This micro-historical perspective on what can be called “hyper-technical” Gothic contributes to our appreciation of the role of technical mastery in establishing social hierarchies and artistic individuation processes during the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern period.

Jean-Marie Guillouët was trained at the Sorbonne (Paris-IV) where he began his teaching career. Since 2002, he is a professor at the University of Nantes and was also in charge of the Medieval Studies section of the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art (INHA), between 2008 and 2012. His principal field is fourteenth- and fifteenth-century sculpture and architecture in France and Portugal, but he also works on artistic and cultural interchanges in Gothic Europe. He has recently published several studies relating to microarchitecture in flamboyant Gothic and late medieval construction techniques as well as several books and papers on artistic production of the Late Middle Ages with a particular focus on sculpture and architecture. He is currently working on the social and cultural history of the technical gesture in late medieval craftsmanship. Since 2016, he is the scientific secretary of the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA).

Table of Contents


  1. TechnicalSavoir-Faireas Historical Topic
    Observations on a well-known Illumination
    Nantes, Tours and the Master of the Munich Boccaccio
    Representation of a technical Gesture and Jean Fouquet’s Heritage
    A French 15th-Century sculptural savoir-faire
    Late Medieval Gothic Building Sites and Technical Innovations
    First Conclusions
  2. Slate Inlay: A Technical History
    Functional Constraints
    Hollowed out blocks for Inlay
    The Practice of Preparatory Tracing
    Installation in the Archivolts
    An Operational Change at the Beginning of the 15th Century
    An Interruption in the History of Technique: Auxerre
    The Consequences of a new stereotomic System
    Choices of Stone Types
    Conclusions on Implementation
  3. Social History of a Skill
    Traces and Remains of a Valued Procedure
    The Practical Geometry of a Building Site at the End of the Middle Ages and its Tools
    The Tools and their Uses
    The Prevalence of the Square
    The insignological Uses of the Compass
    The Incisions at Tours and Rouen as Illustrations of Construction Practices
    Workers with Stone: social History of a Technique
    Masons and Sculptors
    Stone-cutters and Carvers of Images
    The Socio-Professional Distinction of the Creators of the Canopies – the Case of Bourges
    Technical One-upmanship and Informal Hierarchies at a Building Site
  4. Microarchitecture and Represented Space
    Architecture and Represented Space
    Towards 1400 in Central/Middle France: a Rupture
    Microarchitecture as a Locus
    Slate Inlay and the Depth of Fictive Space
    Baldachins, Canopies and Late-Medieval Sacral Regimes
    Monumental Syntax toward “Architectural Wit”
  5. Virtuosity,Varietasand Captatio benevolentiae
    Slate or Glass Insertion, Admiratio and Varietas
    Material and Colour Contrasts during the Late Middle Ages
    An Incunabula of c. 1400
    Slate Inlay as a “Technology of Enchantment”
    Late Gothic Art: A Hyper-Technical Cultural Regime
  6. Conclusion


Colour Plates


New Book: Practical Horsemanship in Medieval Arthurian Romance

practicalhorsemanshipThe figure of a knight on horseback is the emblem of medieval chivalry. Much has been written on the ideology and practicalities of knighthood as portrayed in medieval romance, especially Arthurian romance, and it is surprising that so little attention was hitherto granted to the knight’s closest companion, the horse. This study examines the horse as a social indicator, as the knight’s animal alter ego in his spiritual peregrinations and earthly adventures, the ups and downs of chivalric adventure, as well as the relations between the lady and her palfrey in romance. Both medieval authors and their audiences knew more about the symbolism and practice of horsemanship than most readers do today. By providing the background to the descriptions of horses and horsemanship in Arthurian romance, this study deepens the readers’ appreciation of these texts. At the same time, critical reading of romance supplies information about the ideology and daily practice of horsemanship in the Middle Ages that is otherwise impossible to obtain from other sources, be it archaeology, chronicles or administrative documentation.

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Book roundup: Illuminated Charters

Illuminierte Urkunden. Beiträge aus Diplomatik, Kunstgeschichte und Digital Humanities/Illuminated Charters. Essays from Diplomatic, Art History and Digital Humanities

illuminated chartersEdited by: Gabriele Bartz und Markus Gneiß

2018, Ca. 520 S.
116 s/w- und 75 farb. Abb.
23.5 x 15.5 cm
Preis: ca. € 70.00 [D]  |   ca. € 70.00 [A]

Illuminierte Urkunden sind lange Zeit als Stiefkinder der Forschung behandelt worden. Nicht zuletzt durch den Einsatz digitaler Hilfsmittel sind sie im vergangenen Jahrzehnt zunehmend in das Licht der Öffentlichkeit getreten. Das neu geweckte Forschungsinteresse konzentriert sich auf die veränderte Performativität von Urkunden durch den Zusatz von Schmuckelementen. Der reich bebilderte Band präsentiert Aufsätze von Forscherinnen und Forschern aus elf Ländern, die illuminierte Urkunden aus den unterschiedlichen Blickwinkeln ihrer Disziplinen untersuchen.

The book is an interdisciplinary work in diplomatics and art history, focusing on the form and function of illumination in historical documents, notably charters. The contributions in German and English are based on the conference papers delivered at the international conference on Illuminated Charters as part of the Illuminierte Urkunden project conducted at the University of Graz.

New Book: Cut in Alabaster: A Material of Sculpture and its European Traditions, 1330-1530

Cut in Alabaster: A Material of Sculpture and its European Traditions 1330-1530

By Kim Woods

ISBN 978-1-909400-26-9

Cut in Alabaster is the first comprehensive study of alabaster sculpture in Westernk.-wood-book-cover Europe during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.

While marble is associated with Renaissance Italy, alabaster was the material commonly used elsewhere in Europe and has its own properties, traditions and meanings. It enjoyed particular popularity as a sculptural material during the two centuries 1330-1530, when alabaster sculpture was produced both for indigenous consumption and for export. Focussing especially on England, the Burgundian Netherlands and Spain,  three territories closely linked through trade routes, diplomacy and cultural exchange, this book explores and compares the material practice and visual culture of alabaster sculpture in late medieval Europe. Cut in Alabaster charts sculpture from quarry to contexts of use, exploring practitioners, markets and functions as well as issues of consumption, display and material meanings. It provides detailed examination of tombs, altarpieces and both elite and popular sculpture, ranging from high status bespoke commissions to small, low-cost carvings produced commercially for a more popular clientele.

Kim Woods is a senior lecturer in Art History at the Open University, and a specialist in northern European late Gothic sculpture. She combines an object-based approach with an interest in materials and cultural exchange. Her single-authored book, Imported Images (Donington, 2007), focussed on wood sculpture. Since then she has been working on alabaster. Her Open University distance learning materials include the Renaissance Art Reconsidered volumes (Yale, 2007) and Medieval to Renaissance (Tate publishing, 2012).

Publication – Rose-Marie Ferré, « L’iconographie du Livre du Cœur d’amour épris de René d’Anjou »

coeur d amour.jpg

Informations pratiques :

Rose-Marie Ferré, L’iconographie du Livre du Cœur d’amour épris de René d’Anjou, Turnhout, Brepols, 2018 (Répertoire Iconographique de la Littérature du Moyen Age, 6).

145 p., 70 colour ill., 156 x 234 mm, 2018
ISBN: 978-2-503-58002-9

Prix: EUR 60, 00

Le cycle iconographique quasiment complet du Livre du Cœeur d’amour épris est ici envisagé de concert avec le texte, en révèlant ainsi toute sa richesse et sa singularité.

Ce volume est consacré à l’une des œuvres majeures de René d’Anjou conservée aujourd’hui dans le manuscrit français 24399 de la Bibliothèque nationale de France. En un songe allégorique qui est aussi quête chevaleresque, le Cœur personnifié veut rejoindre l’aimée. Les enluminures, par une mise en image efficace et dynamique du texte, rendent surtout la profonde mélancolie, en cette fin du Moyen Âge, d’un sentiment amoureux qui affronte de multiples épreuves.

Comme dans le Mortifiement de Vaine Plaisance, composé deux ans plus tôt et premier volet de ce diptyque littéraire, le cœur (organe supplicié pour le Mortifiement ou Chevalier dépité dans le roman de 1457) n’aura d’autre choix que le renoncement final et la douleur. À cet égard, animé d’un vrai souci spirituel, René d’Anjou fait édifier à la même époque, aux Cordeliers d’Angers, une chapelle dédiée à saint Bernardin de Sienne (1453), pensée comme tombeau pour son cœur. Les sujets évoqués dans le traité de théologie morale ou dans les péripéties sentimentales du chevalier Cœur ne sont pas ainsi sans rappeler les sujets exprimés et représentés dans le petit sanctuaire, échos d’une réflexion sur la Passion du Christ, la rédemption, la Vaine Gloire et le salut de l’âme.

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“Les modèles dans l’art du Moyen Âge (XIIe-XVe siècles)”, dir. L. Terrier Aliferis, D. Borlée

Les modèles dans l’art du Moyen Âge.jpg

Informations pratiques :

Les modèles dans l’art du Moyen Âge (XIIe-XVe siècles), dir. L. Terrier Aliferis, D. Borlée, Turnhout, Brepols, 2018 (Les Études du RILMA, 10). 284 p., 150 b/w ill. + 54 colour ill., 210 x 297 mm. ISBN: 978-2-503-57802-6. Prix : 90 euros.

Ce volume réunit, pour la première fois sur le sujet, un ensemble de contributions qui abordent les diverses problématiques liées à l’usage des modèles dans la création artistique à l’époque gothique. Les modalités de la circulation des hommes et des œuvres en Occident entre le XIIe et le XVe siècle sont examinées à travers cinq axes : les carnets de modèles, la nature des modèles servant à la transmission (dessins, moulages ou gravures) , la notion d’auctoritas, la sélection des modèles et les interactions entre les différentes techniques (orfèvrerie, sculpture et peinture). Les auteurs se fondent, dans des études de cas très concrètes, sur des exemples précis et variés touchant à différents domaines artistiques et, de la sorte, permettent au lecteur d’appréhender au plus près une telle pratique, souvent pressentie, mais qu’il reste malgré tout assez difficile de saisir au sein de la production artistique médiévale.

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New Book roundup: Boydell & Brewer, 2018

Boydell & Brewer have announced their new publications for 2018. You can see the full list here: 

Here are four that were featured in the Boydell & Brewer: Medieval Herald 32.

Frisians and their North Sea Neighbours
Frisians and their North Sea Neighbour
Although Frisians neighboured Anglo-Saxons, Franks, Saxons and Danes in north-western Europe, the details of their lives, communities and culture have remained little-known. Why is this? Well, largely because Frisia and Frisian have meant different things to different people through time, and partly because Frisians had no tradition of writing until relatively late. We trust that this new collection, edited by John Hines and Nelleke IJssennagger, will help change that and broaden knowledge of and interest in the previously mysterious Frisians.
Church Monuments in South Wales, c.1200-1547, by Dr Rhianydd Biebrach
Church Monuments in South Wales, c.1200-1547, by Dr Rhianydd Biebrach
Despite the modest distances that separate them, monuments in south Wales can differ greatly from those in north Wales or the west of England. And although they can tell us much about religious and cultural practices of the time and place, they have until now been sadly understudied. Rhianydd Biebrach explains their special significance, reveals her two favourite monuments and how she undertook her extensive research (losing her dining table in the process). And why we should all (continue to) be grateful to Michael Praed.
The Saint and the Saga Hero- Hagiography and Early Icelandic Literature
The Saint and the Saga Hero: Hagiography and Early Icelandic Literature, by Dr Siân E. Grønlie
While they might not seem to be natural literary bedfellows, Siân E. Grønlie’s new book explains the profound impact that the medieval saint’s life had on the saga literature of Iceland. Predating sagas by several centuries, the Latin lives of saints could, in some ways, be said to provide a model for the (anti-)heroes of the later written sagas, though these protagonists had of course usually led largely un-saintly lives. Here Dr Grønlie provides a quick introduction to both genres and guides us through the results of their intermingling.
The Medieval Merlin Tradition in France and Italy
The Medieval Merlin Tradition in France and Italy: Prophecy, Paradox, and Translatio, by Dr Laura Chuhan Campbell
Dr Campbell uses the figure of Merlin to demonstrate how language and culture shaped different takes on the same character and story. And what an ideal focus he makes, for within him texts, languages, events real and fictional all converged. Crucially, the language barrier between France and Italy proved highly porous and the fluidity of cultural exchange brought new translations with new narrative possibilities. Dr Campbell explains the remarkable process.