Category Archives: Workshops

Workshop: Manipulating the Sun (Wuppertal, 21-23 Aug 19)

Manipulating the Sun: Picturing Astronomical Miracles from the Bible in the Early Modern Era

Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Interdisciplinary Centre for Science and Technology Studies

August 21 – 23, 2019

Deadline: Mar 17, 2019

Royal 20 B.XX, f.3

The British Library, Royal 20 B XX, f. 3,  c. 1420, “Astronomy and Geometry”

The workshop is being organized by the research project Iconography of the Imagery on Early Modern Scientific Instruments (funded by the German Research Foundation, DFG).

One of the aspects being analysed in the project is biblical imagery that could be related to astronomy. Of particular interest is imagery that was used to argue against the Copernican system from the mid-16th century such as the miracles of the Sun reversing its course in II Kings 20:8-11/Isaiah 38:8 (Horologium Ahas) and the Sun standing still in Joshua 10:12.

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Jessica Barker, ‘Inscribing Colonialism in Fifteenth-Century Portugal’, 26 March 2019, QMUL

Maius image

The next meeting of the Maius Workshop will take place on 26 March, 4:30–5:30pm, in room Law G3 at QMUL (335 Mile End Rd, London E1 4FQ). Click here for a map of the Campus.

Jessica Barker, Lecturer in Medieval History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, will lead a seminar entitled Inscribing Colonialism in Fifteenth-Century Portugal. The session will consider inscriptions, readability and visibility in funerary monuments, and their intersections with early Portuguese explorations in West Africa.

Maius is a friendly platform for informal dialogue and collaborative research. Our sessions are open to all, and research in early stages of development is especially welcome. We look forward to seeing you at this event, and please feel free to email us with ideas and suggestions for future meetings.

Image: Detail of inscription on the north side of the monument to João I and Philippa of Lancaster, 1426–34. Founder’s Chapel, monastery of Santa Maria da Vitória, Batalha. Photo: Jessica Barker.

Medieval Touch: Handling session at the British Museum on scientific instruments in medieval and Renaissance Europe

On Weds 21st November 2018, Lloyd de Beer, Naomi Speakman, and Oliver Cooke kindly allowed students and staff from the Courtauld Institute of Art and elsewhere into the horological storerooms of the British Museum, the latest in a series of handling sessions organised by Medieval Touch. Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein of the University of York led the group in a joint examination of a series of mostly sixteenth-century scientific instruments, including replicas from her own collection.horology

We began by looking together at an astrolabe. Astrolabes were observational and calculating instruments and allowed users to tell the time through the position of the stars in relation to the astral map on the astrolabe itself, however your ability to do so was contingent upon any number of factors, not least the environmental conditions.

 

As well as explaining their purpose, Jeanne attempted to instruct us all in their use and as each of us tried and frequently failed to grasp the fundamentals of astrolabe reading, it became apparent that astrolabes are not intuitive instruments. Their use implies and demands significant technical experience and knowledge. We questioned whether this knowledge was simply more widespread in the early modern world or whether utility was not their only value. Even when we consider astrolabes purely in practical use, several limiting factors would have dictated how and by whom they were employed. Astrolabes are geographically specific instruments, each backplate designed for a set latitude – the mobile user would have required multiple plates. Moreover, larger instruments were more easily legible and produced more accurate readings.

Certain instruments that survive like this column shaped sundial were too elaborately shaped to be of any functional use. Their design seems to effect other concerns, perhaps commemorative (was this the model of a larger monumental sundial?) or aesthetic.

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However, other instruments were clearly more useable. Ivory diptych sundials like these 16th-century examples from Nuremberg, appear to have been designed for the Early Modern traveller. Handy and conveniently pocket sized, they also offered a range of adjustable settings depending on location.

 

London to Naples, Portugal to Constantinople: the lists of cities on these objects, clustering around the cities of Mitteleuropa and Northern Italy, Bremen, Königsberg, Venice and Genoa, spoke to some of us of a now lost trading geography of Europe. However, made of ivory and not unelaborately decorated, these objects were demonstrably prestige items and must have elicited viewing as much as reading.

A glance at the range of sundials in the cabinets of the horological department reveals the complex interplay of aesthetic and practical motives at work in these objects.

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Here’s what we saw, all visible on the British Museum’s website:

Sundial/horary quadrant, England 14th c., 1972,0104.1
Sundial etc., Hans Dorn 1492, 1894,0615.1
Astrolabe, Georg Hartmann 1532, 1871,1115.3
Crucifix polyhedral sundial, Georg Hartmann 1541, 1894,0722.1
Astronomical compendium/wind-vane, Christopher Schissler c. 1550, 1855,0904.1
Sundial in the form of dividers, Christopher Schissler 1558, 1888,1201.283
Universal equinoctial dial with case, Christopher Schissler c. 1570, 1922,0705.3
Regiomontanus-style sundial, Caspar Vopel 1551, 1895,0319.1
Crucifix sundial, Melchior Reichle 1569, 1874,0727.3
Standing cup in the form of a celestial globe, French, 1569, AF.3060
Pillar dial in the form of a Corinthian column, Germany, 1593, 1888,1201.282
Scaphe sundial, Germany late 16th c., 1922,0705.6
Sundial etc., Netherlands late 16th c.?, 1871,1115.5
European celestial globe from 1659, 1896,0322.1
17c armillary sphere, 1855,1201.221
Diptych dial, Hartmann, 1562, 1900,1017.1

Many thanks again to Jeanne for a fascinating session!

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)

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