Tag Archives: Courtauld

New exhibition of historic photos of Notre-Dame in Paris

Notre-Dame, Paris, west front. Print by J. Coney, 1830

In response to the devastating Notre-Dame fire in April 2019, the Courtauld has published an online exhibition featuring 19th- and early 20th-century images of the cathedral taken from the Courtauld’s Conway Library.

Modern media gave the terrible fire at the cathedral of Notre-Dame of Paris a shocking immediacy. We watched it live on 24-hour television, and followed the unfolding story on social media. Now comes the slow process of stabilising and conserving the damaged building, and, more controversially, restoring and rebuilding. The magnificent and largely 13th-century wooden roof above the vault has gone, and the central spire built by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1850s collapsed dramatically into the flames. But most of the cathedral church, begun around 1160, finished by around 1330, and heavily restored by Viollet-le-Duc and Lassus in the mid-19th century, has survived surprisingly intact.

Images have been chosen that help to tell the story of the cathedral. Many of them are photographs taken in the 19th century, during the restoration of the cathedral by Viollet-le-Duc. We have included some prints made by English artists which show the cathedral before the restoration. Evocative images of the cathedral in its cityscape are found in photographs by a British tourist, taken around 1911, and by the great architectural photographer A. F. Kersting in the third quarter of the 20th century. The early post-war city captured by Kersting now seems almost as remote as that of 1911. Photographs from the Macmillan Commission recording war damage in Europe during the Second World War show the emotive power of the cathedral and its ability to survive.

The Conway Library at The Courtauld is a collection of approximately one million photographic and printed images of architecture, sculpture and medieval painting, founded by the journalist, mountaineer, politician and pioneering art historian, Martin Conway, Lord Conway of Allington. Conway began collecting images of works of art as a student in the 1880s, and bequeathed his collection to The Courtauld Institute of Art when it was founded in 1932. A project to provide a digitised version of the entire collection is currently underway and is made possible through a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.

See the exhibition here

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CFP: ‘Same Old Things? Re-Telling the Italian Renaissance’, London, 3 May 19

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Marcello Maloberti, Trionfo dell’Aurora (2018), courtesy of the artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan

Courtauld Institute of Art London, May 3, 2019

Deadline: Jan 28, 2019

Same Old Things? Re-Telling the Italian Renaissance

Even today, the history of art is largely dominated by narratives that are for the most part style-based. They tell a story that is teleological, ever-progressive, and structured around influential artistic centres. Within this framework, the role of individual objects shifts depending on how they fit into the broader narrative that they articulate visually. By focusing on the objects and their potential to fashion and dictate stories, a different narrative is likely to emerge.

This conference seeks to identify individual objects, or small sets of objects, which have the potential to destabilise canonical art-historical narratives of Italian art. We are not looking for an alternative Renaissance – instead, we want to ask whether a different story can be told for the same, old things. In the last few decades, art historians have reevaluated  the position of understudied works of works in an increasingly de-centred, non-linear history of art. Certain interpretative frameworks, such as queer or feminist approaches, that laudably seek to interrupt conventional readings of objects, have had modest consequences for their placement within a historical narrative, often because they seek to disrupt that narrative in the first place. Sometimes objects themselves show the insufficiency of traditional critical tools to do them justice. But seldom have newly-developed critical tools been used to renegotiate the historical framing of those objects that have long stood at the core of the Western canon.

Having long questioned the exceptionality granted Italian Renaissance art by the founding fathers of art history, academia has not yet modified radically the way we tell the story of the cornerstones of any Western museum. As a consequence, academic discourse has grown increasingly distant from museum spaces. On the whole, museums have not rejected the comforting principles of order inherent in traditional narratives, of which they are sometimes the unyielding outposts. Arguably, they also struggle to balance object-based displays with the disruption of narrative frameworks typical of recent academic discourse. As a result, celebratory, unwavering views of the Italian Renaissance have proved remarkably resilient among the general public.

Applicants are encouraged to shrug off the burden of prescribed narrative schemes; to use fresh critical tools to unravel celebrated artworks from the patchwork of narratives that stitch them together, at the same time as weaving them into new stories — stories that might be open-ended, interrogative, undetermined, and far distant from those previously told. Papers should be object-based, but not object-focused, in that their interpretation should not be confined to the inward-looking understanding of the object per se, but rather should look outwards towards their (potentially large) role in new narratives. The objects themselves should date to between the thirteenth to the early seventeenth century; they may be Italian or not, canonical or lesser-known.

Papers are sought from doctoral candidates, early career scholars and researchers. Preference will be given to candidates presenting unpublished material. Proposals of no more than 350 words should be submitted, together with a short C.V. to giulio.dalvit@courtauld.ac.uk and adriana.concin@courtauld.ac.uk by 5pm on Monday 28 January 2019. Papers should not exceed 20 minutes in length. We hope to be able to provide subsidy for travel and accommodation. We particularly encourage candidates from the U.K. and Europe. Successful candidates will be notified by mid-February.

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 teresa.lane@courtauld.ac.uk and oliver.mitchell@courtauld.ac.uk no later than 16 November 2018.

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

Vacancy at The Courtauld: Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Art History c.300-1450. Deadline 20 April 2018

COURTAULD INSTITUTE OF ART

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Art History c.300-1450

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The Courtauld Institute of Art is the UK’s leading institution for teaching and research in Art History and the conservation of paintings; it is also home to one of the finest small art museums in the world. The Art History department has an outstanding research and teaching record from Late Antiquity to the Contemporary with an increasingly global outlook, and embraces its diversity of theoretical approaches and methodologies.

The Courtauld wishes to appoint a full-time Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Art History, to begin on 1 September 2018. The successful candidate will complement the existing teaching strengths of the Department and will have a research focus in any region or period from c.300-1450. We seek an art historian who situates their research in a wider, international context, and who can work across traditional geographic, linguistic and chronological boundaries. An ideal candidate would be able to teach across at least one other field in a way directed by concepts of exchange and interaction, and to build bridges with other areas of art historical investigation. The candidate is expected to be able to situate their work in the theoretical and historiographical debates in their specialised research area and also engage with current issues in global Art History.

The appointee will research and publish to the highest quality and will actively pursue and apply for appropriate research grants; will provide inspiring teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels; and will play an active role in the life and administration of The Courtauld.

PAY:       Grade 6 (£36,644 to £41,958) or

Grade 7 (£43,117 to £49,461), depending on experience

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS:    20 April 2018 23:59 GMT

INTERVIEW DATE:    15 May 2018

British Museum Handling Session: Medieval Light

candlestock-bmOn 23rd November 2016 Lloyd de Beer and Naomi Speakman from the British Museum once again kindly allowed staff and students from The Courtauld to look at objects from the museum’s store rooms, focused on the theme of light.

We looked at a number of objects associated with the production of light, including a Byzantine brass lamp and polycandelon. This led to a long discussion about the kinds of shadows such objects would produce, and the use of olive oil for lamps across the Mediterranean. How would other objects on the altar be affected by the light from candles or lamps, we wondered, especially in relation to transparent reliquaries such as this late 13th- or early 14th-century example.

We then examined a number of candlesticks, including this bronze base for a candestick, probably made in 13th-century England; a Limoges pricket candlestick, of a kind found across medieval Europe; and a 15th-century silver candlestick, one of a set of altar implements from the church of Vera Cruz in Medina del Pomar (Spain). We wondered about the relative costs of olive oil vs wax, and the potential for collection and reuse of dripped wax.

We also discussed the custom of lighting candles around cult images, as implied by this 13th-century seal from York, and the story of St Blaise and the two wax candles, as shown in this 16th-century French seal. Finally, we spent a long time puzzling over the BM’s extraordinary candle-stock. This is one of a pair (the other is in Jesus College, Cambridge), but is otherwise a unique survival. It is made of wax and is tapered like a candle, but is richly decorated and completely hollow, so could never function like a candle. Instead it seems to have been a kind of disguised support for a candle, one that would give the impression that very large (and expensive) candles were being burnt.

We were accompanied in this handling session by Dr Mikkel Bille, an anthropologist from the University of Roskilde, who gave a lecture the previous evening as part of The Courtauld’s 2016 Frank Davies Lecture Series on Light and Darkness, organised by Tom Nickson and Stefania Gerevini. We were also joined by two artists from Lumen Studios. This was the latest in a series of workshops organised through the ‘Medieval Touch‘ research group.

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Lecture: The Arts & Science in Early Islamic Spain (15 June, Courtauld Institute of Art)

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Wednesday 15 June 20163:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Research Forum Seminar Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

There is a symbiotic relationship between design, art and visual culture, and the exact sciences, which is attested in early scientific objects from al-Andalus and in medieval Arabic texts. In this talk I explore the objects, spaces, and figures that illuminate this relationship, focusing on ‘Abbas Ibn Firnas (d. ca. 887), the celebrated polymath of the Cordoban Umayyad court, and on al-Andalus and its contemporaries between the 9th-11th centuries.

Glaire D. Anderson is a historian of Islamic art of the caliphal period, with a focus on the art and court culture of Umayyad Cordoba. She is the author of The Villa in Early Islamic Iberia (Ashgate, 2013), co-editor with Mariam Rosser-Owen of Revisiting al-Andalus (Brill, 2007), and recent articles on the Islamic west in architectural history, women and the arts of Cordoba, and material culture and caliphal sovereignty.

http://courtauld.ac.uk/event/the-arts-science-in-early-islamic-spain