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CFP: ‘Working Materials and Materials at Work in Medieval Art and Architecture’, 25th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 7 February 2020

RP-P-OB-963 detail
Master of Balaam, Saint Eligius in his Workshop (detail), c. 1440-1460. Engraving, 11.5 x 18.5 cm. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (RP-P-OB-963)

Call for papers: The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 25th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium: Working Materials and Materials at Work in Medieval Art and ArchitectureThe Courtauld Institute of Art, 7 February 2020

Deadline: 22 November 2017

Materials mattered in the Middle Ages. Only with the right materials could artists produce works of art of the highest quality, from jewel-encrusted crosses, gilded and enamelled chalices and ivory plaques to large-scale tapestries, wooden stave churches and stone cathedrals. This conference seeks to explore the qualities and properties of materials for the people who sourced, crafted and used them.

A critical examination of the physical aspect of materials, including stone, wood, metal, jewels, and textiles, can lead art historians to a deeper understanding of objects and their context. Medieval materials did not function as frictionless vehicles for immaterial meaning: materials, their sourcing, trade and manufacture all contributed to the reception and value of the object. In the vein of scholars like Michael Baxandall (The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany, 1980) and more recently Paul Binski (Gothic Sculpture, 2019), this conference asks participants to ground their papers in the messy realities of crafting materials, and to situate the object and its materials within a network of social, political and economic factors.

The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 25th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium invites speakers to build out from the object and consider the ways in which physical materials were used, manipulated and interpreted by craftspeople, patrons and audiences throughout the medieval world (understood in its broadest geographical and chronological terms). The colloquium encourages contributions from a range of backgrounds including but not limited to the art historical, technical, scientific and economic. Speakers are invited to consider the following and related questions:

Sourcing and Trade

  • What economic factors determined the value of medieval materials?
  • How did geography and trade impact the availability and use of materials?
  • How and in what quantities were materials sourced and did that affect the form and function of the art object?
  • How was the quality of materials determined and controlled?
  • Was trade in certain materials restricted to certain classes or groups of people?

Crafting and Making

  • How did the physical and technical requirements of working with different media shape objects for artists and how attuned were viewers to those requirements?
  • What technical virtuosity and experience did different materials demand and how did craftspeople learn and pass on these skills?
  • Did technical virtuosity affect the value of the object?
  • What do we know of the tools craftspeople used? Were the same tools used in different places and in different periods? What effect does this have on the use and shape of materials?
  • Medieval craftsmen occasionally manipulated certain materials to resemble others. Was this process of imitation always obvious to medieval viewers and how did they interpret this?

Function and Manipulation

  • How did the spaces or locations for which objects were intended shape the choice of materials?
  • Did the function of an object determine the materials of which it was made?
  • Were certain materials more attractive to certain patrons than others and why?
  • Do some medieval objects reveal deliberate references to their facture?
  • How did different materials cater to each of the senses?
  • Did materials always matter – is there a competitive/contested relationship between material reality and immaterial imagination?

The colloquium offers an opportunity for research students at all levels from universities across the United Kingdom and abroad to present, discuss and promote their research. To apply, please send a proposal of up to 250 words for a twenty-minute paper, together with a CV, to, and no later than 22 November 2019.

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CFP: ‘Scaling the Middle Ages: Size and Scale in Medieval Art’, Courtauld Institute of Art’s 24th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium, London, Friday 8 February 2019

image-1024x745The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 24th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium invites speakers to consider issues and opportunities encountered by medieval artists and viewers in relation to size and scale.

Deadline: 16 November 2018

From micro-architectural reliquaries and minute boxwood prayer beads to colossal sculpture and the built spaces of grand cathedrals and civic structures, size mattered in medieval art. Examples of simple one-upmanship between the castles and palaces of lords and kings and the churches and cathedrals of abbots and bishops are numerous. How big to make it was a principal concern for both patrons and makers of medieval art. Scale could be manipulated to dramatic effect in the manufacture of manuscripts and the relative disposition of elements within their decorative programmes. Divine proportions – of the Temple of Solomon or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – were evoked in the specific measurements and configuration of contemporary buildings and decisions were made based on concern with numbers and number sequences.

Inspired by the ‘Russian doll’ relationship between the Sainte Chapelle in Paris and its micro-architectural miniature in the form of a gilded reliquary in the Musée de Cluny, Scaling the Middle Ages seeks to explore a range of questions surrounding proportion, scale, size, and measurement in relation to medieval art and architecture. The Sainte Chapelle, built by the saint-king of France Louis IX to house the relics of Christ’s Passion, is itself often described as an over-sized reliquary turned inside-out. The Cluny reliquary – made to house relics of Saints Maxien, Lucien, and Julien held within the chapel – both complicates and compliments that comparison, at once shrinking the chapel back down to size through close architectural quotation of its form in miniature and pointing the viewer’s attention back to that same, larger space. The relationship between these two artefacts raises a host of questions, including:

Scale and making

How were ideas about size and scale communicated between patrons, architects, craftspeople, and artists? In an age without universal standardised units of measurement, how did craftsmen negotiate problems of scale and proportion?

How were the measurements of a medieval building determined? What techniques did architects, masons, and artists use to determine the scale of their work?

Scale and meaning

What effects were achieved and what responses evoked by the manipulation of scale, from the minute to the massive, in medieval art?

What was the role of proportion and scale in architectural ‘copies’ or quotations?

What representational problems were encountered by artists approaching out-sized subjects, such as giants?

How was scale manipulated in order to communicate hierarchy or relative importance in medieval art?

How did size and scale function in competition between patrons or communities in their artistic commissions and built environments?

Problems of scale

What, if anything, happened when something was the wrong size? When was something too big, or too small? And how were such problems solved by patrons and makers?

How does the disembodied viewing of medieval art through digital surrogates distort or assist in our perception of scale?

How can modern measuring techniques and digital technology enhance our understanding of medieval objects and buildings?

Applicants to the colloquium are encouraged to explore these and related issues from a diverse range of methodologies, analysing buildings and objects from across the Middle Ages (broadly understood in geographical and chronological terms). The Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium offers an opportunity for research students at all levels from universities across the UK and abroad to present, discuss and promote their research.

To apply, please send a proposal of up to 250 words for a 20-minute paper, together with a CV, to and no later than 16 November 2018.

Organised by Oliver Mitchell and Teresa Lane (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Call for Papers

Call for Papers: Medieval Collaborations, The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 22nd Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium

cfp-imageSaturday 4 February 2017. Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

In the earliest days of the discipline, medieval art historians were preoccupied with attempts to name and locate masters in anonymous works through formal analysis. In recent years, however, new approaches have favoured the proposal and identification of collaborative working practices. Recent investigations of collaborations like that of Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi, the illuminators of the Winchester Bible, or the creators of Opus Anglicanum reveal a more complex picture of artistic co-operation. Notions of the artist as master have been replaced with those of artists working together, from the collaborative artisan activity in eighth-century cloisters to the increasing specialisation in the twelfth-century shop. Collaborations spanned media, with the erection of stone churches requiring not just the mason’s carving but the carpenter’s scaffolding and centring. The master and apprentice paradigm has slowly been eroded with narratives of apprentices working alongside, subverting, and surpassing their so-called masters.

The Courtauld Institute’s 22nd Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium invites speakers to consider new approaches to artistic collaborations of the Middle Ages, and how conceptions of collaboration have impacted on the study of these works. Applicants are encouraged to consider a wide range of methodologies and subjects in their approach. Some possible areas might include:

• Collaborators and Co-Creations: how can medieval art and architecture act as evidence of artistic collaboration? Case studies of artworks; seen and unseen collaborations between artist and patron, writer, scribe and illuminator, mason and glazier, master and apprentice, carpenter and painter; collaborations between or within religious orders, church and crown, across countries
• Process and Method: how were collaborative artworks planned and carried out? Collaborative working processes and shared technologies; specialized skills and divisions of labour; contracts and documentary evidence; shop structures vs ad hoc collaborative undertakings; collaborations across media
• Conflict in Collaboration: how were conflicting methods and ideas resolved? Evidence of less-than-seamless cooperation and differing conceptions; reworking by a second collaborator of the first’s work
• Representation and Reception: how are collaborative projects presented and represented? Signatures, mythologies of the maker as individual, and representations of cooperative working
• Intervention and Adaption: how are initial plans adapted over time? Long-term building/construction projects; later interventions to earlier artworks; ‘collaborations’ spanning time
• Collaborations in Medieval Art Scholarship: how have scholars of the Middle Ages collaborated in their work? Collaborative interdisciplinary projects past and present, such as Acta Sanctorum, the Corpus Vitrearum and the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland; digital humanities and collaborations in medieval art research; historiography of collaboration

The Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium offers the opportunity for research students at all levels from universities across the UK and abroad to present and promote and discuss their research. There is some funding available for speakers attending from outside London. If you would like to be considered for this, include a brief statement of need in your application.

Please send proposals of up to 250 words for 20 minute papers, together with a CV, to and no later than 25 November 2016.

Call for Papers Call for Participants Uncategorized

CFP: Movement in Medieval Art and Architecture (London, 7 February 2015)

Call for Papers:
Movement in Medieval Art and Architecture
20th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Student Colloquium 
London, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 7 February 2015

imagePilgrimage, wars and trade are key components of the Middle Ages and all embody movement. This colloquium aims at exploring the importance of movement in the creative processes of medieval art and architecture. Participants are invited to interpret the notion of movement especially in relation to itinerant artists and workshops, the circulation of artworks and the transmission of ideas. Movement will be questioned as a transformative and creative agent in art, in theory as well as in practice. This theme can be expanded to include both local and trans-cultural outcomes of exchanges, ranging from adoption to compromise and rejection. All these encounters show that movement was essential in the creation of art and architecture, whether in Europe, in the Byzantine Empire or beyond, coinciding with the emergence of new artistic trends and reciprocal influences.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

• the circulation of artifacts via diplomatic relations and trade routes
• the spread of new technologies
• the diffusion of iconographical themes
• the dissemination of architectonic vocabulary
• the role played by drawings in the transmission of art and architecture

The Medieval Colloquium offers the opportunity for Research Students at all levels from universities across the UK and abroad to present and promote their research. Unfortunately funding for speakers is not available therefore students from outside London are encouraged to apply to their institutions for subsidies to attend the colloquium.

Please send proposals for 15 to 20-minute papers of no more than 250 words and a CV to no later than Friday 21 November 2014.

Applicants will be notified by the beginning of December.

Upcoming Events

19th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Student Colloquium: Boundaries in Medieval Art and Architecture

19th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Student Colloquium: Boundaries in Art and Architecture
10.00-17:30, Saturday 1 February 2014 (with registration from 09.30)

Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
Ticket/Entry details: Admission free, all welcome. No booking is necessary.
Medieval art and architecture are often misconceived as being governed by categories and boundaries, be it geographical, social, or artistic. This colloquium will aim to question and challenge these assumptions by highlighting the fluidity and flexibility extant within art and architecture at the time. Boundaries will be interpreted in the wider sense of the word, encompassing geographic location and artistic media as well as questions of in-betweenness and hybridity. The papers will explore the issue of the creation and articulation of boundaries, the question of the validity of scholarly categories, and how art ventured to transgress visual, architectural, and cultural divisions.

SESSION 1 – The Problem of Categories in Medieval Art and Architecture. Chair: Michaela Zöschg
Sophie Dentzer (The Courtauld Institute of Art): Beyond Geographical and Stylistic Boundaries: an Approach to the Study of English Decorative Vaulting
Dragoş Năstăsoiu (Central European University, Budapest):Transgressing Boundaries: Mural Painting in the Orthodox Churches of Fourteenth- and Fifteenth-century Transylvania
James Hillson (University of York): Architectural Interaction Post-Bony: Regions, Centres and Archetypes in the English Decorated Style
Tea Break
17.20 – 17.30
SESSION 2 – Transgression and Transition. Chair: Joost Joustra
Federica Gigante (The Warburg Institute and SOAS): Islamic Textile as Boundary in Fourteenth-Century Italian Art and Architecture
Veronica Dell’Agostino (La Sapienza, Rome): Ornamental Painting as Limit of the Painted Space: the Case of  ‘San Pietro al Monte di Civate’ Fresco Fragments
Maria Alessia Rossi (The Courtauld Institute of Art): Inbetween Text and Image: the Case of Christ’s Miracle Cycle
Lunch break (not provided)
SESSION 3 – Structures of Power. Chair: Maeve O’Donnell
Cristina Dagalita (University of Paris IV, Sorbonne): Illustrating Dissidence: the Fool among the Foolish Virgins
Antonino Tranchina (La Sapienza, Rome): Inscriptions at the Martorana in Palermo: Performing Monumental Speeches across Materials and Languages at the Times of Roger II
Karl Kinsella (Oxford University): Doors as Portals: Structures of Power in Anglo-  Saxon Art
Tea Break
SESSION 4 – The Visualisation of Marginality. Chair: Jack Hartnell
Monika Winiarczyk (University of Glasgow): Marginal and Intricate: Synagoga and the Medieval Christian Conception of Judaism
Andrea Mattiello (University of Birmingham): Katechoumena/gynaikites: Upper Galleries in Late Palaiologan Churches in Mystra
Niamh Bhalla (The Courtauld Institute of Art): Asserted Binaries and Ambiguous Borders: Gender and the Image of the Last Judgment in Byzantium
Closing Remarks  (Dr Antony Eastmond, The Courtauld Institute of Art)