What was the role of images in the religious experience of Castilian people of the 13th and 14th centuries? There is no clear answer, and the scarcity of written evidence has prompted much problematic speculation. However, on the basis of the images themselves and of relevant literary sources, including the well-known Cantigas de Santa María and works by 14th-century authors such as Juan Ruiz and Juan Manuel, it is possible to explore a number of key issues. The talk will be divided into three sections. One focuses on the 13th century: ‘Active images: the Cantigas de Santa María and their aftermath’. Another looks to the 14th century: ‘Passive images: the reception and dissemination of the Crucifixus dolorosus in Castile’. And it concludes by looking ‘beyond’ Art History. In the 1960s a Spanish politician coined the (in)famous tourist slog, ‘Spain is different’. His aim was to encourage foreigners to visit Spain, but the slogan is representative of a commonplace that has been repeated time and again since the Romantic era. Ultimately, my talk offers an invitation to reconsider whether Castilian and Spanish devotional practices are really so very different from those recorded elsewhere in medieval western Europe.
Felipe Pereda (Harvard), will give the inaugural lecture for the 2018-19 Coll & Cortes Medieval Spain Seminar Series at 4pm on Thursday 25th January in the Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre of the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
An old narrative tradition going back to Ancient Egypt but documented across the Mediterranean – from the Middle East to Greece — shows women attending funerals performing theatrical, but also highly ritualized gestures that express unbearable pain. This visual trope corresponds to a practice that was surveyed and prosecuted in this part of the world well before the arrival of Christianity. The practice continued in Iberia throughout the Middle Ages, producing from the 12th century onwards an extraordinary tradition of painting and monumental sculpture. This lecture will explore the persistence, survival and repression of this practice and discuss the contribution of the visual arts to the production of cultural memory.
Felipe Pereda is Fernando Zóbel de Ayala Professor of Spanish Art at Harvard University. Born in Madrid, he studied at the Universidad Complutense, and the Autónoma University where he received his PhD (1995) and taught until 2011. In more recent years, he has also taught at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas (Universidad Autónoma de México), and Johns Hopkins University (2011-15). He has worked on Spanish late medieval and early modern art, art theory, image theory and history of architecture.
His books include, La arquitectura elocuente (1999), El atlas del Rey Planeta (3rd. ed. 2003), and Images of Discord. Poetics and Politics of the Sacred Image in 15th century Spain (Spanish ed. 2007; English translation, Harvey Miller, forthcoming). He has recently published on artists such as Luis de Morales, Ribera, or Zurbarán.
The Coll & Cortés Medieval Spain Seminar in the Research Forum South Room in the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. By Dr Encarna Montero, University of Valencia
6-7pm, Monday 18th January, followed by a drinks reception. Free attendance, open to all
A significant number of sources for the study of architectural practise survive from medieval Spanish kingdoms when compared to other European territories. Apprenticeship contracts, drawings, sketches and masons’ inventories shed light on the means by which architectural knowledge was transmitted in the Iberian peninsula between 1370 and 1450. This body of evidence – much of it newly discovered – also challenges many long-held assumptions, even if several key problems remain unresolved: the training requirements for masons’ apprentices, the specific skills that defined a master, or the role of drawing in the building process.
This is the second in the Coll & Cortés Medieval Spain Seminars, which take the theme of ‘Gothic Architecture, New Approaches’ from 2015-17. The first lecture in the series was delivered by Eduardo Carrero in October 2015.