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Exclusively Medieval, Online & Open Access: 2017 special issue of British Art Studies

The latest issue of British Art Studies (an open access, online Art History journal published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art), is entirely devoted to Medieval Britain. The content is derived from a conference held at the British Museum in 2014: Invention and Imagination in British Art & Architecture, 600-1500.

It opens with an editorial by guest editors Sandy Heslop and Jessica Berenbeim, followed by twelve articles in traditional format: 

Thanks to the digital platform, it is possible to reference the articles to the nearest paragraph using the DOI link. The platform’s scope is further tested through the Conversation Piece and Handling Digital Objects portions of this special issue: 

Another innovative feature is a virtual simulation of the object sessions held at the 2014 conference. In actuality, these took the form of guided sessions with objects in the seminar rooms at the conference venue. In the journal, they are recreated via four interactive 3D models of objects, each accompanied by a short essay: 

Gothic Revival, Medieval Art & the Hereford Screen

Issue 5 of British Art Studies features a One Object study of the Gothic Revival Hereford Screen. The 8 tonne metalwork structure was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and manufactured by the firm of Francis Skidmore in 1862. The collection of essays fosters discussion of the screen’s medieval models as well as its Victorian genesis.

2006AR1160_hereford_screen_cathedral_photo_custom_290x332_06200711

The Hereford Screen in Hereford Cathedral, view from North Transept, 19th century. (Image from the V&A website)

As a new and exclusively digital journal, British Art Studies’ virtual platform is celebrated through abundant interplay of text, image and audio-visual material.  It brings together seven scholars who present technical and theoretical perspectives on a single object by means of ‘traditional’ essays and short films.  This brief blog-post aims to draw attention to the medieval content of the study, notwithstanding the overall interest and coherence of all the constituent articles.

The One Object discussion is introduced by Ayla Lepine, in an essay entitled Resurrection, Re-Imagination, Reconstruction:
New Viewpoints on the Hereford Screen.

 

Essays in the discussion that focus on medieval material are:

The Hereford Screen: A Prehistory, by medievalist Matthew Reeve, guides the reader through a history of the medieval predecessors of the Hereford screen and places its production in the context of the Cathedral space and the architect’s work at Lichfield and Salisbury.

Jacqueline Jung’s contribution, a video essay entitled, The Medieval Choir Screen in Sacred Space, considers the sight-lines and sculptural relationships created by the strategically designed perforations and interior figural programmes of medieval screens and their host churches, focusing on two examples from 13th-century Italy and 15th-century Germany.

The oddly fragile, contentious choir screen, in its many historical manifestations, receives a colourful and polyphonic tribute in this One Object study. As a medieval art blog, links to the most relevant essays are given above but are, for best results, to be enjoyed with their Gothic Revival companions.

Digital library of liturgical sources

Ecclesiastical Map of Western Europe in the Middle Ages

Ecclesiastical Map of Western Europe in the Middle Ages

Digital library of liturgical sources is a new research tool developed by the Research Group of Liturgical History. The Calendar-Project is a comprehensive database of almost 200 representative European liturgical Calendars and Sanctorals. Through browsing Saints and Feasts or Dates respectively, one can gain a statistically relevant sample of where, when and which feasts were celebrated within the medieval territory of the Roman Rite. Methodically, our research is based on the same principles as the whole of USUARIUM, namely that diverse sources based on their undoubted origin provide the best way to study the range of variability of liturgical Uses. Proofreading, corrections, new sources and facilities will follow in the coming weeks.

CONTACT FOR PASSWORD: foldvary.miklos[at]btk.elte.hu
 dr. Miklós Földváry, H-1088 Budapest,
Múzeum krt. 4/F. 222.

Announcement: Society for the Study of the Church Interior

S.-Maria-gloriosa-dei-Frari-Title-page-1500-500.jpgWhat is the study of the church interior?

The church was a highly meaningful site for pre-Modern European society. As architectural sites accessible to all strata of society, church buildings provided contexts for interaction between social classes and genders, and settings for a wide variety of religious and non-religious activities. From an art-historical perspective, the vast majority of artworks produced in the medieval and Renaissance periods was intended for the many chapels, altars and screens in the church interior.

Yet, despite the obvious importance of these sites, the spatial dispositions of church interiors – and how they evolved over time – are still little-understood. Centuries of restorations and adaptations have radically transformed the appearance and usage of church interiors: screens have been removed; altars shifted position; new liturgical furnishings installed; fresco decoration whitewashed; and seating added or taken away.

Scholars studying the church interior seek to reconstruct the meaning, functions and visual appeal of these sacred spaces. The Society for the Study of the Church Interior seeks to promote this holistic and interdisciplinary approach to researching historic church buildings.

Who are we?

We are a group of scholars who are interested in the material culture, spatial dynamics and multifarious functions of the church interior in the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. We are mainly based in the US, Germany, Italy and the UK, but welcome members from around the world.

Primarily focused on pre-Modern Italy, we are interested in reconstructing aspects of individual churches, but also in broader issues associated with large-scale changes to architectural layouts generally associated with religious reform. In addition to purely art-historical inquiry, we investigate the religious, political or practical motivations behind transformation campaigns and the effects such changes had on the use of church buildings.

What do we do?

Studying the church interior presents complex challenges for the historian, given that documentary, archaeological and material sources can be fragmentary or even contradictory. Our research involves the analysis of several types of primary and secondary source material, which may include:

  • Original archival documentation such as payments, contracts, testaments, etc
  • Liturgical texts
  • Official records of Visitations conducted by bishops and other clergy
  • Historic ground plans
  • Antiquarian guidebooks
  • Modern restoration records
  • Material evidence of surviving architecture
  • Archaeological reports
  • Provenance of objects such as altarpieces and liturgical furnishings

What are the activities of the Society?

The Society promotes broader engagement with the study of the church interior, disseminates research findings and fosters an academic community of like-minded scholars.

In the future, we hope to organize sessions and meetings at major conferences such as the Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting.

We are also in the process of establishing an online, collaborative database to collect data on the church interior. Initially concentrating on Italy, where the impact of the Counter Reformation was particularly strong, the database will reveal the broad patterns and chronologies which are currently beyond the grasp of the individual researcher. Members of the Society who wish to contribute to the database will receive a login to access it: please email Joanne or Michael if you are interested.

Sign up for the mailing list here.

Help contribute to this blog!

Medieval Art Research needs new bloggers for the next 12 months – why not help out?! It’s a great way to find out what’s going on, find out where to find out what’s going on, promote events of interest to you, try your hand at writing, and raise your own profile (bloggers get to post their profile on our ‘Research Profiles’ page).

Our volunteer bloggers take responsibility for the blog for a period of one month. It may take two to three hours per week: largely posting events that come through to medievalartresearch@gmail.com, but there bloggers are also encouraged to be creative  in writing posts and reviews, or promoting particular activities of interest to them.

Those interested or with questions should contact medievalartresearch@gmail.com and we can send you instructions on how to post events to WordPress, and sort out a rota. Join us!

New Website: Walters Ex Libris (Walters Art Museum Manuscripts)

walters-to-deleteNew Website: Walters Ex Libris (Walters Art Museum Manuscripts) online at manuscripts.thewalters.org.

Featuring a user-friendly design, the site provides visitors with intuitive search options, including the ability to refine their search by date, geography, subject, culture, and more. It also gives users a chance to coordinate their own online collections by gathering, saving and sharing their favorite masterpieces.
Images include covers and flyleaves, and provided under a Creative Commons 3.0 license that allows visitors to download publication-quality pictures for free.

To date, the Walters has digitized 45 percent of its manuscripts collection.

The manuscripts site, an ongoing project, joins the museum’s growing network of online resources, including its general website, thewalters.org, and its online collection, art.thewalters.org.