Category Archives: Workshops

Call for Papers: ‘Light and darkness in pre-modern visual cultures’, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Friday 23rd November 2018

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Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Deadline: 15 September 2018

Organisers: Stefania Gerevini and Tom Nickson

The staged lighting of modern galleries, heritage sites and publications has significantly altered understanding of the roles of light and darkness in the design and reception of pre-modern objects and spaces. Despite sophisticated systems to manage artificial and natural light, pre-modern experiences of the visual were shaped greatly by daily and seasonal rituals and contingencies. In turn, those experiences informed, and were informed by, diverse theories about vision, light and illumination.

This one-day workshop of lightning talks offers participants opportunities to explore their own encounters with issues of light and darkness in pre-modern cultures, and set them within broader scholarly frameworks. How did pre-modern cultures conceptualise, respond to, and manipulate light and darkness and their interactions in urban, domestic and religious settings? How were natural and artificial light managed? What role did they play in the design of individual artworks, architectural spaces, ephemera and rituals, and to what extent did different light levels affect perceptions of objects and spaces? What vocabulary was used to think about light and darkness, and how was this language transformed by the advent of new technologies of illumination? How did pre-modern cultures deploy light/dark, day/night, to cogitate on God and the cosmos, and to visualise them?

Lightning talks should be no more than 5 minutes and 5 slides, and will be ‘curated’ for maximum variety and visual interest. They may relate to any region or culture, and ‘pre-modern’ is here very broadly defined as the period before the adoption of gas or electric lighting. Papers might focus on single objects, rituals or spaces, or on groups thereof. All disciplinary perspectives are welcome, provided they focus predominantly on visual culture.

Papers might consider:

  • The language of light and darkness: science, theology, literature and daily life
  • Light, darkness and the senses
  • Rituals, objects and spaces by night
  • Science, technologies and visual culture
  • Theologies of light/darkness
  • Daily/annual cycles of light and dark
  • Street life and the experience of urban spaces and architectures by day and night
  • Natural ‘spotlights’ on objects or buildings
  • Provision for lighting of various kinds
  • The agency of patrons or creators in shaping lighting conditions
  • Reconstructions of original lighting conditions
  • Restaging of medieval objects in early modern contexts
  • Deliberate darkness or blinding light
  • Refraction and reflection
  • Materiality and immateriality

Abstracts of 200 words should be sent to lightanddarkness2311@gmail.com together with 100-word participant biographies. The deadline is Saturday 15th September 2018. Please note that given the brevity of papers and large number of participants, The Courtauld cannot cover travel or accommodation costs (though lunch, refreshments and a subsidised supper will be provided).

Organised by:

Stefania Gerevini (Bocconi University, Milan)

Tom Nickson (Courtauld Institute of Art, London)

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Workshop: Inheriting Byzantium: Religion, Art and Literature in Pre-Modern Eastern Europe

18 June 2018

Alter Senatssaal, Hauptgebäude der Universität zu Köln (University of Cologne, main building); Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Köln, Germany

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Workshop: Art and Court Cultures in the Iberian World (1400-1650) (23 April 18)

2nd International Workshop:
Art and Court Cultures in the Iberian World (1400-1650)

Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, April 23, 2018

Visual strategies of legitimization became increasingly important for Iberian monarchies during the late medieval and early modern periods. Their dynastic, diplomatic, and military endeavors called for effective propaganda, both in the metropolis and in viceregal territories. Such efforts include architecture, both ephemeral and permanent, the decoration of palaces, court portraiture, and historiography. The advent of the Monarchia Hispanica under Habsburg rule required careful elaborations of national, religious, racial, and gender identities, across a mosaic of multilingual and multiethnic populations. This second workshop aims to highlight some of these strategies, and to consolidate 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 Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University, and University of Valencia.

16.00 Welcome, opening remarks and panel.
Panelists:
– Replicating the Royal Image: Philip III’s portrait at Harvard Art Museums.
Cristina Morilla, Associate Paintings Conservator, Harvard Art Museums.

– Alliance, Emulation and Competition in the Habsburg Netherlands: The Case of a 16th-Century Alabaster Funerary Monument in Heverlee.
Jessie Park, Rousseau Curatorial Fellow in European Art, Harvard Art Museums.

– Sofonisba Anguissola’s Self-Portraiture, from Court Propaganda to Meta-Artistic Sign. Jorge Sebastián Lozano, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of Valencia; Research Fellow, Real Colegio Complutense at Harvard University.

17.30 Q & A
Discussion moderated by Prof. Felipe Pereda, Fernando Zóbel de Ayala Professor of Spanish Art, Harvard University.

Location:
RCC Conference Room
26 Trowbridge St.
Cambridge, MA

Free registration. Please RSVP at
https://rcc.harvard.edu/event/2nd-international-workshop-art-and-court-cultures-iberian-world-1400-1650

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
Workshop

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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