Category Archives: Lecture series

Spring Term 2020: Murray Seminars on Medieval and Renaissance Art at Birkbeck, London

3rd February 2020:
James Hall, ‘Embattled Exclusivity: the Aesthetics and Politics of Michelangelo’s Attack on Flemish Painting’.

In a dialogue composed by Francisco de Holanda, Michelangelo launches a diatribe against painting produced in Europe north of the Alps, attacking what he sees as its crowdedness and materialism; its lack of order and discrimination; its sentimentality and its popularity with the ignorant and especially with women. This talk explores Michelangelo’s disparagement of Flemish painting within its rich cultural and political context. His antipathy draws on a historic association between those who lived north of the Alps with the Goths and Vandals who destroyed ancient Rome. Their modern mercenary descendants were still invading Italy, and their artforms – musical as well as visual – had done so too. However, Michelangelo’s main concern was less with Flemish art, than with the fact that it was so influential on Italian artists, including Michelangelo himself. To make matters worse, he was working in the Sistine Chapel, filled with supreme products of Flemish culture, and things were not going well.
25th February 2020:  
Federico Botana, ‘A gift for Giuliano di Lorenzo de’ Medici? The Aritmetica by Filippo Calandri’ 
The Aritmetica (Florence, Biblioteca Riccardiana, MS 2669, c. 1485) is one of the most lavish libri d’abbaco (mathematical treatises) that has come down to us from Renaissance Florence. The Aritmetica is illustrated with sixty-five miniatures, many consisting of lively scenes relating to trade, crafts and games. It has been thought that the manuscript was created for Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici. The evidence that will be presented in this seminar, however, strongly suggests that a member of the Dell’Antella family commissioned the manuscript, and that it was later given to Lorenzo for use by his son Giuliano, the future Duke of Nemours.  In addition to presenting evidence on the original ownership of the manuscript, the paper discusses the contents and readership of libri d’abbaco, and the personality and intellect of Giuliano de’ Medici, which at a young age made him a worthy recipient for such a gift.

 

16th March 2020:  

Sarah Ferrari ‘Provenance matters: acquisitions of Venetian Renaissance art in Northern Europe between the First and the Second World War’.

 

This paper sheds new light on the dynamics of the European art market by investigating a group of paintings that were acquired by the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Sweden, between 1917 and 1954. The group includes works attributed to Titian, Tintoretto, Schiavone and Veronese, some of which were once part of the celebrated collection of Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689). The paper offers an account of both documentary sources and material aspects, in order to identify the network of collectors and dealers involved, while at the same time analyzing the role of national identity as a driving force in the context of these acquisitions.
Information:
Seminars take place at 5pm in the History of Art Department (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in The Keynes Library (Room 114), unless stated otherwise.
Talks finish by 5.50pm to allow those with other commitments to leave, and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.
These talks are supported by the Murray Bequest in memory of the Department’s founder Peter Murray, and are open to all.

Murray Seminars at Birkbeck, Autumn 2019

16 October, Lisa Monnas

Vestments and Textiles in Hans Memling’s ‘God with Singing and Music-making Angels 

Three large panels in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, painted by Hans Memling in the 1480’s, represent a heavenly scene framed by clouds, which part to reveal the central figure of God attended by sixteen singing and music-making angels. Thye once formed the top of the high altarpiece of the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria la Réal in Nájera, in Spain. In the central panel, God is depicted vested as priest and ruler, and the angels in this and in the flanking scenes wear clerical dress. The work has been interpreted as relating to the Good Friday liturgy and the Exaltation of the Cross, but since the panels originally formed the top of an altarpiece whose main subject was the Assumption of the Virgin, this is open to doubt. This paper will re-examine the vestments and textiles in the newly conserved panels, assessing their ‘realism’ and their contribution to the heavenly scene. It will also consider them in the wider context of some of Memling’s other works.

14 November, Jana Gajdosova

Sculpted Genealogies: The Effigies of Bohemian rulers in Prague Cathedral

With the death of Wenceslas III, the Přemyslid dynasty, which had ruled Bohemia for over four centuries, came to an end. The murder of the young king created chaos in the kingdom for several decades; however, after the marriage of Elizabeth of Přemyslid and John of Luxembourg and the subsequent birth of Charles IV (1316 – 1378), Bohemia reached the height of its political and cultural power in Europe. Charles IV saw himself as a bridge between two Bohemian dynasties – the Přemyslids of the past and the Luxembourgs of his envisioned future. This link was communicated with painted genealogies in at least three of Charles’ castles, and with staged genealogies across Prague. The fascination that Charles had with re-imagining and visualizing his role within the dynastic shift that occurred also found expression in the sculpted genealogies which are the subject of this paper—specifically the effigies of Přemyslids rulers commissioned by Charles IV for Prague Cathedral, which were made to communicate these ideas in sculpture and across real space.

5 December, Marie-Louise Lillywhite 

Blood is Thicker than Water: Artists, Friends and Family Alliances in Seventeenth-Century Venice

How did Venetian artists forge alliances to advance their interests and ensure the continuation of their workshops? Focusing on the painter Palma il Giovane, this paper explores his concerted efforts to continue his family name through strategic marriages, and safeguard his success through advantageous friendships. This study will demonstrate how these potentially positive relationships impacted artistic production in Venice for better, or indeed worse.

All this term’s seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 114 (The Keynes Library) at 5pm.  Talks finish by 5.50pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.  We hope to see you there.

Coll & Cortes Medieval Spain Seminar Series: Images, devotion and emotion in 13th- and 14th-century Castile (18 April 2018)

toro-santa-clara-600x600What was the role of images in the religious experience of Castilian people of the 13th and 14th centuries? There is no clear answer, and the scarcity of written evidence has prompted much problematic speculation. However, on the basis of the images themselves and of relevant literary sources, including the well-known Cantigas de Santa María and works by 14th-century authors such as Juan Ruiz and Juan Manuel, it is possible to explore a number of key issues. The talk will be divided into three sections. One focuses on the 13th century: ‘Active images: the Cantigas de Santa María and their aftermath’. Another looks to the 14th century: ‘Passive images: the reception and dissemination of the Crucifixus dolorosus in Castile’. And it concludes by looking ‘beyond’ Art History. In the 1960s a Spanish politician coined the (in)famous tourist slog, ‘Spain is different’. His aim was to encourage foreigners to visit Spain, but the slogan is representative of a commonplace that has been repeated time and again since the Romantic era. Ultimately, my talk offers an invitation to reconsider whether Castilian and Spanish devotional practices are really so very different from those recorded elsewhere in medieval western Europe. Continue reading

Lecture: “Structuring the Sacred”: Considering Framing, Space and Place on the Easby Cross, Institute for Historical Research, 27/02/2018

Easby Cross

NOW CANCELLED DUE TO INDUSTRIAL ACTION!

 

The London Society for Medieval Studies is hosting the following lecture on Tuesday 27th February at 7pm:

Meg Boulton, speaking on ‘”Structuring the Sacred”: Considering Framing, Space and Place on the Easby Cross.

Location: Institute of Historical Research, Wolfson Room NB01, Senate House (located on Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU).

All those who are interested in Medieval Studies are very welcome to attend!

Upcoming Lectures at the British Archaeological Association 07/03/2018, 04/04/2018, 02/05/2018

BAA

The British Archaeological Association is delighted to announce our upcoming lectures:

7 March – ‘Awake thou that sleepest: The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene in Central Europe’ by Dr Zoe Opacic
4 April – ‘Bridgwater Friary: A provincial town and the Franciscan friars in late medieval Somerset’ by Dr Hannah Wesyt
2 May – ‘ Inventing Vaults in the Twelfth Century: Salamanca, Al-Andalus and France’ by Dr Tom Nickson

All lectures take place at the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House (Piccadilly) at 5.00 pm. Tea is available from 4.30 pm.

Further information about the BAA, the lectures and past events can be found on our website https://thebaa.org/

Lecture Emmanuele Lugli “Chasing Absence: The Body of Christ and the Measures to Enter in Touch with it” 17:00 13/02/2018 Birkbeck

Mensura Christi Talk
This talk focuses on the singular devotion for the ‘mensura Christi,’ or the act of praying with objects that reproduced the height of Christ. It explores the reasons for its phenomenal success, from its diffusion in the twelfth century up to its ban in the seventeenth, and the motives for its marginalization in historical accounts today. The talk asks questions about what turns an orthodox veneration into a mere superstition, an inversion that is all the more puzzling given that the ‘mensura Christi’ relies on measuring, one of the methods to fight credulity. The lecture thus reconsiders the relationships of measuring practices, visual belief, and religious orders, thus contributing to discussions on representations, faith, and material studies.
 
All this term’s seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 114 (The Keynes Library) at 5pm.  Talks finish by 5.50pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.  We hope to see you there.