Category Archives: seminar

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.

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Institute of Historical Research’s European History, 1150-1550 Seminar

FilippoilbelloAll are welcome to attend the opening lecture of the 2018 autumn term for IHR’s seminar, European History, 1150-1550. Julien Théry ( University of Lyon) will present his lecture entitled, ‘The French Way. The Rift between The Papacy and Capetian Monarchy under Philip the Fair (1285-1314)’ this Thursday, 27th September.

The complete 2018-19 programme can be found here.

Free Online Course: The Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin

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Trinity College Dublin is offering a new online course started 8 October. This course is intended for any and all interested in the history, crafting, and enduring legacy of one of the world’s most famous medieval manuscripts.

The Book of Kells manuscript, housed at Trinity College Dublin is world famous – it attracts almost one million visitors a year. But what can this book tell us about Irish history? And what significance is the manuscript in today’s world?

On this course you will use the Book of Kells as a window through which to explore the landscape, history, faith, theology, and politics of early medieval Ireland. You will also consider how the manuscript was made, its extended biography and how it has affected different areas of the contemporary world.

Please the visit the course’s website for more information.

Lecture: Murray Seminar at Birkbeck, London (27 June 18)

Gold Against the Body: Gold Surfaces and Their Limits, Medieval to Early Modern

Alison Wright, UCL

5:00pm, 43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD

For the last Murray Seminar of the year, Alison Wright of UCL presents a paper entitled Gold against the Body:  gold surfaces and their limits, medieval to early modern. 

unnamedThe myth, famously invoked in Goldfinger, of the human body suffocated by being coated in gold exemplifies the fascination and danger attached to the idea of an ‘excess’ of gold, especially in respect to human skin. In this lecture the slippery boundaries of when, where and for whom gold surfaces might be deemed excessive will be explored in relation to European art, especially Italian, of the 14th to early 16th centuries. The discussion of gold in representation is generally dominated for this period by Alberti’s overturning of the value of gilding on the painted surface. This talk will argue rather for the multiple economies of gold in art with reference to broader visual and material traditions, and focus especially on gold’s complex relation to the human body.

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.

The Murray Seminar series will continue next autumn term.

Murray Seminars at Birkbeck University, London (Summer Term 2018)

1 May, Cristina Guarnieri, University of Padua

The Stories of St. Lucy by Jacobello del Fiore, and Venetian folding reliquary altarpieces

The Stories of St. Lucy by Jacobello del Fiore are one of the masterpieces of Italian Late Gothic painting, but their function has been little understood. Re-evaluating prevailing theories about the panels’ purpose and display, this paper proposes that they formed a folding reliquary altarpiece, and considers other examples of this type which was once common in the Veneto.

 

5 June, Michelle O’Malley, the Warburg Institute

Botticelli: A conundrum of production

Two versions of Botticelli’s Virgin and Child with an Adoring Angel suggest raise fundamental questions about the specifics of authorship in the workshop and how we, as art historians, understand Renaissance artistic practice and construct attribution. This paper looks again at the technical evidence and the value of connoisseurship in tracking the development of the use of reproductive technique in late fifteenth-century Florence.

 

27 June, Alison Wright, UCL

Gold against the Body:  gold surfaces and their limits, medieval to early modern

The myth, famously invoked in Goldfinger, of the human body suffocated by being coated in gold exemplifies the fascination and danger attached to the idea of an ‘excess’ of gold, especially in respect to human skin. This paper explores the slippery boundaries of when, where and for whom gold surfaces might be deemed excessive in relation to European art, especially Italian, of the fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries.

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.