Tag Archives: France

Book roundup: Medieval architecture

All is thriving in medieval architecture publishing from the Romanesque to the Late Gothic: here are some very special books that have been published in the last few months.

As always do let us know of any recently-published medieval art history books you would like us to include in a book roundup – we would be happy to let people to know about them!


978-0-271-06645-5[1]Tom Nickson – Toledo Cathedral: Building Histories in Medieval Castile (Penn State University Press)

Medieval Toledo is famous as a center of Arabic learning and as a home to sizable Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. Yet its cathedral—one of the largest, richest, and best preserved in all of Europe—is little known outside Spain. In Toledo Cathedral, Tom Nickson provides the first in-depth analysis of the cathedral’s art and architecture. Focusing on the early thirteenth to the late fourteenth century, he examines over two hundred years of change and consolidation, tracing the growth of the cathedral in the city as well as the evolution of sacred places within the cathedral itself. Nickson goes on to consider this substantial monument in terms of its location in Toledo, Spain’s most cosmopolitan city in the medieval period. He also addresses the importance and symbolic significance of Toledo’s cathedral to the city and the art and architecture of the medieval Iberian Peninsula, showing how it fits in with broader narratives of change in the arts, culture, and ideology of the late medieval period in Spain and in Mediterranean Europe as a whole.

Tom Nickson is Lecturer in Medieval Art and Architecture at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

1400.medium[1]Costanza Beltrami – Building a Crossing Tower: A Design for Rouen Cathedral of 1516 (Paul Holberton Publishing)

Prompted by the recent discovery of an impressive three-metre tall late Gothic drawing of a soaring tower and spire, this book offers a rare insight into the processes of designing and building a major Gothic project. The drawing’s place and date of creation are unknown, and it corresponds to no surviving Gothic tower. Equally mysterious is the three-quarter, top-down perspective from which the tower is represented, without parallel in any other medieval drawings. Who drew this? When? And what did he hope to convey with his choice of a top-down representation of the tower? Building a Crossing Tower explores these questions, and uncovers the dramatic circumstances in which this drawing was created.

Costanza Beltrami is a PhD student at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London.

9781783270842[1]Ron Baxter – The Royal Abbey of Reading (Boydell and Brewer)

Reading Abbey was built by King Henry I to be a great architectural statement and his own mausoleum, as well as a place of resort and a staging point for royal itineraries for progresses in the west and south-west of England. From the start it was envisaged as a monastic site with a high degree of independence from the church hierarchy; it was granted enormous holdings of land and major religious relics to attract visitors and pilgrims, and no expense was spared in providing a church comparable in size and splendour with anything else in England.
However, in architectural terms, the abbey has, until recently, remained enigmatic, mainly because of the efficiency with which it was destroyed at the Reformation. Only recently has it become possible to bring together the scattered evidence – antiquarian drawings and historic records along with a new survey of the standing remains – into a coherent picture. This richly illustrated volume provides the first full account of the abbey, from foundation to dissolution, and offers a new virtual reconstruction of the church and its cloister; it also shows how the abbey formed the backdrop to many key historical events.

Ron Baxter is the Research Director of the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland.

Conference review: Microarchitecture and Miniaturized Representation of Buildings (INHA, Paris 8-10 Dec 2014)

Search for “microarchitecture conference” on Google, and you will mostly be returned results concerning gatherings of computer programmers. This would doubtless make the concept of a conference on medieval microarchitecture entertaining to many. Even ignoring this parallel nomenclature, the sort of microarchitecture art historians are interested in is not an easy concept to explain, and perhaps one of the primary goals of the conference held at the Institut Nationale d’Historie d’Art in Paris was to actually work out what we had all come together for. I doubt wasn’t the only one who wondered whether my own material actually qualified.

Professor Timmermann with his pocket cathedral

Professor Timmermann with his pocket cathedral

Achim Timmermann (University of Michigan), a man who could indeed be dubbed “Mr. Microarchitecture”, gave an exciting overview of the concept in Early, High and Late Middle Ages, so epic in its scope of fantastic structures that the screen ought to have expanded into Imax proportions. His account demonstrated how microarchitecture transformed from the idea of a “pocket cathedral” into such an isolated ontological sphere that it crossed into convolute monstrosity with its self-mimesis by the late fifteenth century. An alternative and quite staggeringly rich oration, based on his new book Gothic Wonder, was given by Paul Binski among the medieval statuary in the ancient Roman baths of the Museé de Cluny. For Paul, the medieval intellectual aesthetic condensed great and small, magnificent and minificent, into an idea characterised by a single playfulness of embellishing surface with ornament. A more formal account, jointly delivered by Javier ibàñez Fernandez (Universidad de Zaragozza) and Arturo Zaragozá Catalán (Universidad de Valencia), introduced a 7-part taxonomy of microarchitecture in Spain: from functional maquettes to decorative miniaturisation of large-scale forms.

Sebastian Fitzner and some extraordinary medieval tile ovens

Sebastian Fitzner and some extraordinary medieval tile ovens

In this framework of ideas of categorisation, many new genres of object were introduced to the conference room. The present writer, of course, had packed a selection of sedilia, which by now I am certain always prove novel to continental audiences. But we also had stone tile ovens like traceried office blocks from Sebastian Fitzner (LudwigMaximilians-Universität München), Orthodox chivots for Eucharist reservation that mimic the forms of their parent building from Anita Paolicchi (Università di Pisa) and Renaissance elevation drawings that were originally intended to be folded and constructed into paper models from Giovanni Santucci (Università di Pisa).
These models are sort of things we would love to have more evidence for in the Middle Ages to explain the transmission of ideas, but alas, even presentation drawings and plans are difficult to come by. The miniaturisation of large forms into the decorative or representational was covered in papers by Sabine Berger (Sorbonne) on votive churches in the hands of donor statues and Peter Kurmann (ETH, Zurich) on relationship of tabernacle canopies to the geometry and form of great chevets.

Matthew Sillence with cardinals' seals

Matthew Sillence with cardinals’ seals


Final panel with Alexander Collins, Julian Gardner (chair), Sophie Cloart-Pawlak and Sarah Guérin

There was also consideration of the desirability of microarchitecture and its meaning beyond the artists’ play with novel forms. Matt Ethan Kalaver’s (University of Toronto) account of the earliest transmission of classical forms into the Netherlands by the high nobility on their tombs was reflected in the earlier centuries considered by Julian Gardner (University of Warwick) and Matthew Sillence (University of East Anglia). Their papers both focused on how influential medieval prelates and cardinals were for spreading new forms on their seals, which, quite thankfully, was a big part of my paper where also bishops seem the first to stick pointy gables over sedilia in chantry chapels they have endowed.
Perhaps one drawback about the novelty of much of the material is that it is only in retrospect to draw many of these parallels across sessions. One panel however that held together very well that at the end of the final day, between Sophie Cloart-Pawlak (IRHiS, Lille), Alexander Collins (University of Edinburgh) and Sarah Guérin (University of Montréal) who all explored the function and symbolism of microarchitecture on the spectator.
This was my first international conference, and it was a highly convivial experience with high-quality papers throughout. There was a healthy mix of postgraduates, early career researchers, established scholars and some legendary old hands. It is planned that the proceedings will be published, and therefore it should provide a much-needed general framework for the minificent microcosm of the fiddliest bits of the decorative arts.

The international conference Micro-architecture et figures du bâti au Moyen-Âge: l’échelle à l’épreuve de la matière was at the Institut Nationale d’Historie d’Art from the 8-10 Dec 2015. Here is our original post of the call for papers, the full programme and the INHA’s official page.

We also had a bit of fun tweeting the conference because we’re so Web 3.0.

Book roundup: New art history books from Brepols

Here are some new medieval art history books on manuscripts, architecture and sculpture from publisher Brepols that we have been alerted to, and we think will prove very exciting to a number of our readers.

HMSAH_75_3DKing’s College Chapel 1515-2015: Music, Art and Religion in Cambridge, edited by J. M. Massing, N. Zeeman

This lavishly illustrated, interdisciplinary volume encompasses many aspects of the Chapel’s history from its foundation to the present day. The essays all represent new research, with a particular emphasis on areas that have not been investigated before: Chapel furnishings and art; the architectural engineering of the building and current state of the glass; the history of the Choir and the life of the Chapel, not least in recent centuries. Essays will engage with politics, drama, music, iconoclasm and aesthetics. This will be a serious academic book, but also a visually stimulating and beautiful one. It will contain two hundred and fifty colour reproductions of images of the Chapel – prints, watercolours, oil paintings, photographs, architectural drawings, plans, maps and even postcards, reflecting the many and varied responses that the Chapel has elicited over time.

HMSAH_59 Jean Pucelle: Innovation and Collaboration in Manuscript Painting, edited by K. Pyun, A. Russakoff
This book focuses on the works and legacy of Jean Pucelle, a French 14th-century artist.
Jean Pucelle (fl. ca. 1319-d. 1334) was one of the most prominent artists of the first half of the fourteenth century, an influential illuminator who worked closely with a number of collaborators both known and anonymous. A large number of lavishly-illuminated manuscripts have been attributed to him based on stylistic analysis.

Scholarly essays in this book explore issues crucial to the establishment of his distinctinve style: originality, technique, color palette, influence, levels of resemblance, the relationships between artistic media, and patronage. The contributors to this volume analyze the major works associated with Pucelle or the Pucellian style, and interpret pictorial elements in the tradition of artistic collaboration. This is the first collective work devoted entirely to Jean Pucelle and his legacy.

With contributions by Barbara Drake Boehm, Pascale Charron, Marc Gil, Joan A. Holladay, Marguerite A. Keane, Mie Kuroiwa, Domenic Leo, Kyunghee Pyun, Anna D. Russakoff and Roger S. Wieck.

097728-RogierVanDerWeydenstofwikkel.inddRogier Van der Weyden and Stone Sculpture in Brussels by B. Fransen
The activities of Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400-1464) were much wider in scope than the well-known painted oeuvre that has been the subject of so many publications. This book, with its focus on stone sculpture in Brussels at the time that Rogier was established there, an area of art history that to date has been little explored, offers a fresh and fascinating look at the context in which Brussels’s famous city painter operated. Bart Fransen leads you through a network of stoneworkers and craftsmen, from the stone quarry to the sculptor’s workshop, to discover a number of remarkable but unknown or misjudged sculptures now in churches, an abbey, a béguinage, a museum’s reserve collection and a castle chapel. With the various case studies in mind he goes on to examine Rogier van der Weyden’s direct involvement in sculptural projects, turning to the evidence revealed by archival documents, drawings and sculpture itself. The result is a highly readable and plentifully illustrated book that re-establishes the close relationship between the various art forms that existed in the fifteenth century.

MEF_07The Making of Hispano-Flemish Style: Art, Commerce, and Politics in Fifteenth-Century Castile by R. Kasl
This book examines the phenomenon of “Hispano-Flemish” style in fifteenth-century Castile, providing an account of its most important monuments and describing the ways in which it is embedded in specific social and cultural settings. Trade, diplomacy, and immigration account for the widespread presence of art and artists from northern Europe in Castile during the period and these mechanisms of international contact and exchange are the starting point for this inquiry. Chapter one details commercial relations between Castile and the art-producing centers of northern Europe, stressing the dominant role of merchants from Burgos and documenting the prevalence of imported luxuries like tapestries, paintings, and sculpture. The presence of imported artworks in Castile was paralleled by a similarly robust number of immigrant artists, some itinerant and others attached to permanent workshops. Their influence is discussed in chapter two, with emphasis on the establishment of multi-generational family workshops under the direction of immigrant masters. Such workshops rooted foreign styles on Castilian soil and decisively influenced the ways in which visual conventions were learned, transformed, and transferred. The receptivity of patrons to the visual qualities of the imported style is analyzed in relation to its capacity to assert emerging social, political, and spiritual values.

The adoption of northern forms in Castile, first detected in the sculptural decoration of funerary chapels of the mid-1430s, was sustained for the rest of the century, culminating in the completion of the monastery of Miraflores under the patronage of Isabel of Castile. Chapter three outlines the religious, commemorative, and political motives that informed the foundation of the monastery by Juan II and those that animated his daughter’s efforts to complete it. It establishes the chronology of works in relation to historical events and details the intervention of Juan and Simón de Colonia, Gil de Siloe, Juan de Flandes, and others. The reelaboration of Siloe’s northern European sculptural idiom at Miraflores was a distinctive process, stimulated by the demands of his royal patron, conditioned by the practices of a heterogeneous workshop, and obliged to visualize a new concept of royal sovereignty.

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Postdoctoral Fellowship: Fernand Braudel – IFER Fellowship (France)

Postdoctoral Fellowship:
Fernand Braudel – IFER Fellowship ((International Fellowships for Experienced Researchers)
Programme supported by the European Commission (Marie Curie Action Programme – COFUND – FP7)
Deadline: 30 September 2014

fbThe Foundation Maison des sciences de l’homme and the partners of the programme offer postdoctoral fellowships in the humanities and social sciences for a period of nine months.

Note: This is the last call of this Fernand Braudel-IFER Fellowship Programme

This programme is open to applicants from all countries, belonging to a foreign research centre, who wish to undertake a research residency in France. These post-doctoral research stays are designed to enable researchers to carry out a research project in a host laboratory, integrate scientific networks in France and other European countries and build lasting partnerships between their home institution and the host institution. Applicant’s projects should match the areas of research of these institutions.

All social and human sciences are eligible. An interdisciplinary approach to research topics is encouraged. Candidates can apply to general fellowships and specific fellowships, offered by several research institutions and “Laboratories of excellence” (Labex) who are partners of the programme.

The online application platform is open from 1 September until 30 September 2014. For more information on how to apply, see here.

Call for Papers: Gotische Skulptur um 1300 (Berlin, 7-8 May 2015)


Christ and the Wise Virgins 1280-1300, Strasbourg

See below for a Call for Papers in German and French for a conference in Berlin, May 7 – 08, 2015. Papers can be French, German or English.
Deadline: Jun 8, 2014.

Gotische Skulptur um 1300 in Frankreich und Deutschland
Tagung der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin im Bode-Museum

Die in den Jahrzehnten um 1300 in Frankreich und den angrenzenden
Territorien des Deutschen Reichs entstandene, deutlich von
wechselseitigen Bezügen geprägte gotische Skulptur wurde lange
kontrovers diskutiert. Ziel der meisten Debatten war die Erstellung
einer Chronologie der wichtigsten Objekte – ein Bestreben, dem aber
allein schon dadurch Grenzen gesetzt waren, dass nur erstaunlich wenige
Ensembles oder Einzelwerke datiert bzw. Auftraggebern und Bildhauern
sicher zugeschrieben werden können. Daher dominierten stilkritische
Zuschreibungen nolens volens das Feld. Sie waren nicht nur Grundlage
eines instabilen, gleichwohl allgemein akzeptierten Entwicklungsmodells
gotischer Skulptur dies- und jenseits des Rheins, sondern bestimmten
auch Überlegungen zu Themen wie Werkstattmigration, Kunst- und
Materialtransfer, zur Wahrnehmung der Objekte oder politischen Intention
von Kopien prominenter Bildwerke. In jüngster Zeit sind die Diskussionen
wieder lebhafter geworden. Denn neuere bauarchäologische und
dendrochronologische Untersuchungen haben überraschende Zeitstellungen
gebracht, und Revisionen älterer Datierungsvorschläge lassen das  mühsam
aufgerichtete chronologische Gerüst kippen.

Die Frage nach den Folgen für die angerissenen Themenkomplexe ist Anlass
der geplanten Tagung. Es sollen keine neuen Chronologiemodelle
aufgestellt, sondern in erster Linie aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse von
Kunsthistorikern, Bauforschern und Restauratoren gebündelt und somit
neue Perspektiven für den gesamten Forschungsbereich gefunden werden.
Eine wichtige Rolle sollen auch neuere restauratorische Untersuchungen
spielen, die sich vermehrt Steinbildwerken widmen. Die gotische
Skulptur, so lauten häufig die Schlussfolgerungen, war viel häufiger und
früher monochrom, als bislang angenommen. Die Interpretation dieser
Befunde in Hinblick auf Bildwirkung und Rezeption steht oft noch aus.

Einen Schwerpunkt der Tagung wird die Diskussion vor den Objekten der in
vielerlei Hinsicht aufschlussreichen Berliner Skulpturensammlung sein,
die in einem im Sommer 2014 erscheinenden Bestandskatalog erstmals seit
1930 wieder zusammenfassend gewürdigt wurden.

Erbeten werden Vorschläge zu Vorträgen à 25 Minuten zu den oben
genannten Themen, sowohl monographische Präsentationen einzelner Objekte
als auch Übersichten zu komplexen Zusammenhängen. Vorträge können in
deutscher, französischer und englischer Sprache gehalten werden.
Angestrebt wird eine Bezuschussung (Reise- und Übernachtungskosten der
Referenten). Eine rasche Publikation (innerhalb eines halben Jahres) ist

Vorschläge (max. 2000 Zeichen) richten Sie bitte bis zum 8. Juni 2014

Michael Grandmontagne (medrikat-grandmontagne[at]t-online.de)
Tobias Kunz (t-w-kunz[at]web.de)
La sculpture gothique vers 1300, en France et en Allemagne
Colloque organisé par les Musées de Berlin
Bode-Museum, 7 et 8 mai 2015
Appel à contribution

Depuis plus d’un siècle, le développement conjoint, autour de 1300, de
la sculpture gothique en France et sur les territoires limitrophes de
l’Empire allemand a fait l’objet de controverses notoires. L’objectif
premier de la plupart des chercheurs aura souvent été d’établir une
chronologie des œuvres les plus importantes – effort louable mais qui
fut longtemps limité, peu d’œuvres ou même d’ensembles pouvant être
datés avec certitude, tandis que force noms d’artistes ou de
commanditaires sont tombés dans l’oubli. Bon gré mal gré, le terrain fut
donc occupé par les « connaisseurs », qui fondent leurs jugements sur
des critères stylistiques, une méthode qui présuppose un développement
continu de la sculpture gothique des deux côtés du Rhin, ce qui n’a rien
d’évident. De nombreuses recherches ont également été dédiées à des
thèmes tels que la migration des ateliers, des œuvres ainsi que des
matériaux, jusqu’à la perception des objets ou à la volonté politique de
copier certaines sculptures majeures. Ces dernières années, les
discussions sont devenues particulièrement animées du fait de nombreuses
découvertes, effectuées dans le domaine de l’archéologie du bâti et de
la dendrochronologie, et dont les résultats surprenants démentent
parfois les certitudes les plus établies. De toute évidence, une
révision du cadre chronologique s’impose.

Ce colloque cherche à établir, dans le champ de la sculpture gothique,
les conséquences des changements méthodologiques induits par la
recherche récente. Il ne s’agira aucunement de proposer un nouveau
modèle chronologique, mais avant tout de présenter les recherches
actuelles des historiens de l’art et de l’architecture, ainsi que des
restaurateurs, ce qui devrait permettre de définir de nouvelles
perspectives pour l’ensemble des études dans ce domaine. Une place
importante sera consacrée aux problèmes qui ont récemment émergé à
l’occasion de certaines restaurations, notamment celles concernant la
sculpture sur pierre : la sculpture gothique, nous disent des analyses
récentes, était bien plus monochrome qu’on ne le pensait jusqu’à
présent. L’interprétation de tels résultats, du point de vue de
l’histoire de la réception des œuvres, doit encore être formulée.

La discussion se fondera en grande partie sur les récentes découvertes
ayant émaillé l’étude des œuvres de cette période appartenant aux
collections de sculptures des Musées de Berlin et conservées au
Bode-Museum, anticipant la parution prochaine, à l’été 2014, d’un
nouveau catalogue raisonné de ces sculptures, plus de quatre-vingts ans
après la dernière édition, publiée en 1930.

Les propositions de communication (de 2 000 signes maximum, espaces
compris) devront être envoyées avant le 8 juin 2014 aux adresses
ci-dessous. Les conférences seront d’une durée de 25 minutes et pourront
être prononcées en allemand, en français ou en anglais. Le déplacement
et l’hébergement des intervenants devraient pouvoir être pris en charge,
tandis que les actes de ces journées devraient être publiés avant la fin
de l’année 2015.

Michael Grandmontagne (medrikat-grandmontagne[at]t-online.de)
Tobias Kunz (t-w-kunz[at]web.de)

One day workshop “The Crusades. History and Literature.”

11 Bible without words

11 Bedford Square, London, 22nd of March 2014, 10.00 – 18.00

A one-day workshop on the crusades and their texts, to include talks on lyric responses to the crusades in medieval France and Occitania, poetic sources in First Crusade texts, crusading warfare, chivalry and the enslavement of women and children, Outremer and redemptive suffering, and non-knightly participants in the crusades.

Speakers include: Professor Linda Paterson, Professor Charmaine Lee, Dr Anna Radaelli, Dr Carol Sweetenham, Dr Matthew Bennett, Professor John Gillingham, Dr Jean Dunbabin, Dr Luca Barbieri, Professor Stefano Asperti, Dr Marianne Ailes, and Mr Simon Parsons.

All are welcome. Attendance, lunch and refreshments are free but places are limited to 30 on a first come first served basis: to register for a place please contact Linda Paterson at linda.frrac@gmail.com

See Poster here for more information.

BBC Two: Pilgrimage

l43-vaticano-110818192541_bigBBC2: Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve

For centuries pilgrimage was one of the greatest adventures on earth, involving epic journeys across the country and around the world. This series sees Simon Reeve retrace the exciting adventures of our ancestors. He learns about the forgotten aspects of pilgrimage, including the vice, thrills and dangers that all awaited travellers. He explores the faith, the hopes, desires, and even the food that helped to keep medieval travellers on the road.

1st Episode Simon Reeve embarks on pilgrimages across Britain, from Holy Island to Canterbury.

2nd Episode Simon Reeve travels from northern France to Spain, then crosses western Europe to Rome.

3rd Episode Simon Reeve travels from Istanbul across the Holy Land to Jerusalem.

For more information see http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01kqjg3