Category Archives: Workshops

British Museum Handling Session: The Trinity

GodwinOn Wednesday 24 January 2018 Lloyd de Beer and Naomi Speakman once again welcomed a group of staff and students from The Courtauld and elsewhere, as well as Sophie Kelly, PhD student from the University of Kent. The focus of our session was objects in the British Museum collection with links to the Trinity.

We looked at eleven objects with Trinitarian iconography, the earliest of which was the walrus ivory seal die of Godwin the Thane, dating from the early eleventh century. Beautifully carved with iconography inspired by Psalm 109 (110), ‘The Lord said unto my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand and I will make thine enemies thy footstool’. The decoration on the handle consists of God the Father and Son in relief, enthroned over a prostrate human figure. We were very interested to investigate the evidence of damage above the two figures which, we agreed, was likely to have once included a symbol of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove.

The Trinity also features on a fourteenth-century circular bronze seal-matrix (with wax impression) with a loop at top. Here the Trinity is depicted as three near-identical figures with an inscription ‘SCA TRINITAS.VHVS.DEVS’. The third seal which we saw was the fifteenth-century circular bronze seal-matrix (with wax impression) of the Friars of the Holy Trinity, Hounslow. Under a Gothic canopy with side-tabernacles the Trinity is depicted in a manner which allowed us to discuss different ways of representing the Trinity in the Middle Ages. Here, the iconography known as the Throne of Grace (Gnadenstuhl), is used. In these depictions of the Trinity, God the Father is seated and holds the cross upon which Jesus Christ is crucified in front of his lap, with the dove of the Holy Spirit alongside. This iconography became popular from the thirteenth century and is seen across a wide range of artistic media, including manuscripts, stained glass and stone carving. The Trinity depicted as the Throne of Grace also appeared on a late Medieval gold finger ring. With the help of a magnifying glass we were able to appreciate the detailed depiction of the Trinity on the oval bezel of the ring, which included the dove which is shown between Christ’s right arm and God the Father.


Black Prince badgeWe discussed Plantagenet devotion to the Trinity evidenced through the lead Badge of the Black Prince of c.1376 which shows the Black Prince kneeling before Trinity (although the dove is missing). The Black Prince wears a tabard with Arms of England and has thrown down his gauntlet before him; above him is an angel in clouds holding his shield. We also looked at two Anglo-Saxon ivory plaques depicting the Crucifixion. Above the head of Christ, the Hand of God is depicted, thereby alerting us to the presence of two persons of the Trinity. This led to discussion related to how we might understand images where one of the member of the Trinity is ‘missing’; can the presence of the other person be implied?


An object which we all found challenging was a wood-carved relief representing the Trinity (also in the Throne of Mercy composition) dated 1450-1500 and including depictions of the Annunciation, St Francis of Assisi, St Bernardino and St Sebastian. The largest object encountered was a late Medieval alabaster Coronation of the Virgin which still shows traces of painting and gilding. Here the Virgin is surrounded by the persons of the Trinity represented as three crowned figures.

close looking

In preparation for the handling session we read the following texts and discussed them at a reading group the night before:


Bernard McGinn, ‘Theologians as Trinitarian Iconographers’, In: Jeffrey Hamburger and Anne-Marie Bouché The Mind’s Eye. Art and Theological Argument in the Middle Ages, Princeton, 2006, 186-207

André Grabar, ‘Dogmas Expressed in a Single Image’, In: Christian Iconography. A Study of its Origins, London, 1969, 112-127

Jacobus De Voragine, ‘The Holy Spirit’, In: The Golden Legend, Princeton, 1993, 299-306

We looked at the definition of the Trinity in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford, 1997), and were interested to explore the tension between theology and iconography. In particular, how can dogma such as the Trinity be represented? Grabar and McGinn have contrasting views on what constitutes ‘successful’ iconography; McGinn sees artistic experimentation and lack of iconographic stability as positives, whereas Grabar suggests that the fact an image appears in limited or isolated circumstances makes it a failure. To aid our discussions, we looked at some manuscript images of the Trinity. These included: British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius C vi (Tiberius Psalter); British Library, MS Cotton Titus D. xxvii (Ælfwine’s Prayerbook); British Library, MS Add. 34890 (Grimbald Gospels); British Library MS Cotton B IV (Aelfric’s Hexateuch); British Library, MS Harley 603 (Harley Psalter); MS Lansdowne 383 (the Shaftesbury Psalter); Winchester Bible, Winchester Cathedral; and St John’s College, Cambridge, MS K 26 (St John’s Psalter). We discussed the experimental nature of Trinitarian iconography and how this might help us understand the chancel wall painting of the Throne of Grace at the Church of St Mary, Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk which is unique, and the earliest known appearance of this motif.


CONF: Il Pallio di San Lorenzo (Florence, 1-2 Feb 18)

Florence, Opificio delle Pietre Dure / Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut, February 1 – 02, 2018

Il Pallio di San Lorenzo: Dopo il restauro e prima del suo ritorno a Genova

pallio.jpgThis workshop focuses on the so-called ‘Pallio di San Lorenzo’, a thirteenth-century Byzantine textile given to the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa within the framework of diplomatic relations between Genoa and the Byzantine court. The bright red samite embroidered with various coloured silk threads, as well threads in silver and gold, represents the Lives of St. Lawrence, St. Sixtus, and St. Hippolytus, accompanied by Latin inscriptions, and a depiction of Michael VIII Palaiologos visiting the cathedral of Genoa. The textile’s actual state of preservation after many years of meticulous restoration and the results of the recent analyses of the dye, the stitching technique, and the precious metal threads provides insight into  its unique materiality. Furthermore, its specific iconography, Latin paleography, and possible functions offer various points of departure for a comprehensive reconsideration of the Pallio. This work epitomizes the transcultural encounters in the Mediterranean. This interdisciplinary workshop, organized in collaboration with the textile restoration experts of the Opificio delle Pietre Dure and the Museo Sant’Agostino, Genoa, is an extraordinary occasion to discuss the results of the restoration of the ‘Pallio di San Lorenzo’ before its return to Genoa.

A collaboration between the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Firenze, the Museo di Sant’Agostino, Genova and the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut
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CRSBI lecture at Cardiff Archaeological Society, 19 October 2017 | CRSBI Training Session, Llandlaff Cathedral, 20 October 2017

Lecture: The Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland: Achievements and Aspirations, Dr Ron Baxter FSA and Dr David Robinson FSA, Main Building, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3AT, Thursday 19 October 2017, 7.15pm

This lecture will review CRSBI’s achievements to date, and outline aspirations for Wales, looking at Romanesque sculpture from across the country.

Training Session: The following Friday, 20 October, Ron Baxter and David Robinson will be running a training session at Llandlaff Cathedral, from 10.00am to 3.00pm. The day is open to all who may be interested in becoming a fieldworker for the Corpus, or in simply finding out more about our work.

Dr Ron Baxter is the Research Director of CRSBI

Dr David Robinson is an independent historian and writer


CfP: New Directions in the Study of Medieval Sculpture, Leeds, 16-17 Mar 2018

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, March 16 – 17, 2018
Deadline: Sep 30, 2017

New Directions in the Study of Medieval Sculpture

Focusing on the materiality of medieval sculpture has proven crucial to
its study and has expanded our historical understanding of sculpture
itself. Whether monumental relief sculpture in stone, wooden sculptures
in the round, sculpted altarpieces, ivory plaques or enamelled
reliquaries, the possibilities for research on medieval sculpture now
extend far beyond the established canon.

Contemporary medieval sculpture studies have opened the field to
comparative and inclusive research that embraces the social,
performative, gendered and ritual uses of medieval sculpture. These
developments have inspired the organisers of the conference New
Directions in the Study of Medieval Sculpture to reflect on the field
and ask how do we investigate medieval sculpture today and what might
come ‘after’ materiality?

This two-day conference seeks to assess and critique the state of the
field on medieval sculpture and to investigate new directions,
approaches and technologies for research. A consideration of the state
of the field could be approached through, but is not limited to, the
following topics:

    Processes and techniques of medieval sculpture
    The sensory experience of medieval sculpture
    The ephemeral and intangible aspects of medieval sculpture
    Medieval sculpture, photography and digital reproduction
    Archives, casts and reconstructing medieval sculpture
    Sculpture and medievalism
    Historiography of medieval sculpture studies
    Exhibition histories of medieval sculpture

This conference is hosted by the Henry Moore Institute, a centre for
the study of sculpture, and is convened by Dr Elisa Foster, 2016-18
Henry Moore Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow.

Accommodation and reasonable travel expenses within the UK will be

Paper proposals should be sent via email to Dr Elisa Foster: by 30 September 2017.

ANN: Knotenpunkte und Netzwerke Neapels (Rom, 16-22 Oct 17)

Creche-Tavern-5_480.jpgRom, Bibliotheca Hertziana, 16. – 22.10.2017
Deadline: May 31, 2017

Knotenpunkte und Netzwerke Neapels.Tiefenbohrungen in einer porösen

Studienkurs der Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte
Leitung: Prof. Dr. Tanja Michalsky, Dr. Elisabetta Scirocco

Walter Benjamin schrieb am 19.8.1925 in der Frankfurter Zeitung zu Neapel:

»Niemand orientiert sich an Hausnummern. Läden, Brunnen und Kirchen geben die Anhaltspunkte. Und nicht immer einfache. Denn die übliche Neapolitaner Kirche prunkt nicht auf einem Riesenplatze, weithin sichtbar, mit Quergebäuden, Chor und Kuppel. Sie liegt versteckt, eingebaut; hohe Kuppeln sind oft nur von wenigen Orten zu sehen, auch dann ist es nicht leicht, zu ihnen zu finden; unmöglich die Masse der Kirche aus der der nächsten Profanbauten zu sondern. Der Fremde geht an ihr vorüber. […] Porosität begegnet sich nicht allein mit der Indolenz des südlichen Handwerkers, sondern vor allem mit der Leidenschaft für das Improvisieren. Dem muß Raum und Gelegenheit auf alle Fälle gewahrt bleiben. Bauten werden als Volksbühne benutzt.«

Die von Benjamin gewählte Qualität des ›Porösen‹ ist ambivalent, denn sie bezeichnet ebenso das dichte Nebeneinander von (Hohl-)Räumen als auch die gleichsam natürlich gewachsene Formation eines lebendigen Organismus. Insbesondere die prekäre Seite dieser Beschreibung spiegelt sich in der Kunstgeschichtsschreibung, denn Neapel hat dort nicht zuletzt aufgrund der benannten Eigenschaften noch immer einen schlechten Stand. Auch wenn allgemein bekannt ist, welche Schätze sie birgt, so wurden doch bis heute nur wenige von ihnen gehoben. Zerstörungen und Überschreibungen in einem dichten Geflecht lassen die Stadt als besonders chaotisch erscheinen und die lokalen Forschungsbedingungen sind schwieriger als in anderen Städten. Der Umstand, dass die Kunstgeschichte Neapels noch immer in Abhängigkeit von anderen Städten wie Florenz und Rom konzipiert wird, ist jedoch eher den eingefahrenen Spuren der italienischen Kunstgeschichtsschreibung geschuldet. Größere Bekanntheit erlangt haben letztlich nur die Epoche des französischen Königsgeschlechts Anjou (13.–14. Jh.), sowie die Malerei und die prunkvollen Ausstattungen im Barock wobei in beiden Fällen gerne von Sonderfällen gesprochen wird. Die neapolitanische Renaissance unter dem Königshaus Aragon scheint auf wenige herausragende Monumente beschränkt, die selten als genuine Produkte sondern eher als Importe bewertet werden. Ziel des Studienkurses ist es, diese Forschungssituation zu reflektieren und einen Versuch zu unternehmen, die neapolitanische Kunst aus den spezifischen historischen und sozialen Bedingungen heraus zu verstehen. Gestalt und Gestaltung Neapels sollen daher anhand ausgewählter Beispiele von der Antike bis in die Gegenwart verfolgt werden. Konkret gemeint sind damit antike Stätten wie das Forum, frühchristliche wie die Katakomben, über Kirchen, Paläste und Platzanlagen vom Spätmittelalter bis zum Barock, Sanierungsmaßnahmen des 19. Jahrhunderts bis hin zu den jüngsten Ausstattungen der Metro-Stationen. Das Programm ist so gestaltet, dass an einzelnen Orten die Stratifikationen der Stadt ebenso wie die Nachbarschaften von Monumenten in den Blick rücken, die einzelnen Werke dadurch als Teile der historischen und urbanen Netzwerke und zugleich als Produkte sozialer und politischer Kontexte gelesen werden können.

Die Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte übernimmt die nachgewiesenen Fahrtkosten bis zu einer Obergrenze von 300 € sowie die Kosten der Unterbringung. Ferner erhalten die Teilnehmer/innen ein pauschales Tagegeld von insgesamt 196 €. Diese Ausschreibung ist auch im Internet zu finden unter:
Die Bewerbung ist mit CV, einem Empfehlungsschreiben eines/er Hochschullehrers/in und einem Motivationsschreiben bis zum 31.5. 2017 an Raffaele Rossi ( zu richten. Die Bewerber/innen erhalten Ende Juni Bescheid über die Auswahl und die Vergabe von Referatsthemen.

Workshop: Arts and Court Cultures in the Iberian World (1400-1650)

horizontalWorkshop: Arts and Court Cultures in the Iberian World (1400-1650), Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University (RCC Conference Room, 26 Trowbridge St., Cambridge MA), April 28, 2017

Visual strategies of legitimization became increasingly important for
Iberian monarchies during the late medieval and early modern periods.
Mediterranean dynastic, diplomatic, and military endeavors called for
effective propaganda, both in the metropolis and in viceregal
territories, such as southern Italy. Such efforts include architecture,
both ephemeral and permanent, the decoration of palaces, court
portraiture, and historiography. The advent of a Monarchia Hispanica
under Habsburg rule required careful elaborations of national,
religious, racial, and gender identities, across a mosaic of
multilingual and multiethnic populations. This workshop aims to
highlight some of these strategies, and to create a forum for
discussion of further research avenues, under the guidance of scholars
from Spanish and American universities. It is made possible thanks to
the collaboration of the Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard
University, and the University of Valencia, with additional support
from the Fulbright Commission and the BBVA Foundation.


Welcome & opening remarks

Viceregal Palaces in the Dominions of the Crown of Aragon: Charting a
Mediterranean Architecture
Prof. Mercedes Gómez-Ferrer (Universitat de València)

Icons of Dynastic Authority. Sofonisba Anguissola at Her Majesty’s
Prof. Jorge Sebastián (Universitat de València)


Facing the Infidel Other: Visual Battle Narratives and Royal Entries by
Spanish Habsburg Monarchs
Dr. Borja Franco (UNED, Madrid)

The Triumph of Tunis in Viceregal Palermo, Messina, and Naples
Prof. Cristelle Baskins (Tufts University)

Final remarks and roundtable discussion
with Prof. Felipe Pereda (Harvard University).

End of workshop

Each lecture to be followed by Q & A