Tag Archives: Funerary monuments

INSCRIBING COLONIALISM IN FIFTEENTH-CENTURY PORTUGAL, 26 MARCH 2019, QMUL, London

The next meeting of the Maius Workshop will take place tomorrow, 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.

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.

CFP: Towards an Art History of the Parish Church, 1200-1399, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 2-3 June 2017

St John the Baptist, WinchesterOrganised by: Dr James Alexander Cameron (The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Meg Bernstein (University of California, Los Angeles/The Courtauld Institute Kress Fellow, 2015-2017)

Paul Binski, in his 1999 Studies in Iconography article, “The English Parish Church and its Art in the Later Middle Ages,” asked “how, and in what ways, we might place the imagery of the parish church at the centre of the study of medieval visual culture rather than seeing it as some unfathomable, and perhaps embarrassing, epiphenomenon of something that was ‘really’ going on elsewhere.” Though some 8,000 parish churches in England can be said to consist largely of medieval fabric, no overarching study of English medieval church architecture is available. Instead, scholarship is generally limited to descriptions of single buildings and their furnishings, and the broader historical significance of this building type has largely gone unaddressed.

Towards an Art History of the Parish Church, 1200-1399, to be held on 2-3 June, 2017 at The Courtauld Institute of Art, will gather scholars to revisit the question of the parish church and its relationship to medieval visual culture. Participants will contribute to a vibrant discussion of the Gothic parish church, its utility as an object of study, and the insights offered on the subject by diverse methodologies. In particular, the conference will prioritise ways in which scholars might think about Gothic parish churches collectively, profiting from the rapidly expanding technologies of the digital age. We are pleased to announce that Professor Paul Binski has agreed to give the closing remarks for the conference, and reflect upon how scholarship has progressed since his Studies in Iconography article.Heckington chancel

The conference draws its temporal focus from the most notable lacuna in scholarship, which concerns the introduction and flowering of Gothic architecture across the English parish church in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The thirteenth century saw a broadly Gothic style replace the Romanesque across England; although this has been studied with regard to great church architecture, the mechanics of what amounts to a major stylistic shift at parish level remain largely uninvestigated. Likewise, the quantity of fourteenth-century work in parish churches further shaped the manifestation of the Gothic style, particularly in features such as sedilia which were originally developed in outside of cathedrals and great monasteries. Given the impact of the English Decorated Style on Late Gothic architectural developments across Europe, the parish church promises to illuminate art historical questions beyond the borders of England. These lacunae are in stark contrast to the smaller corpus of the Romanesque period, which has had a large amount of attention via resources such as CRSBI; and the late medieval church after 1400, which draws on greater availability of documentary evidence.

The organisers invite postgraduate, early-career and established researchers to propose papers representing a revitalised approach to the study of parish churches of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and strategies for dealing with the vast amount of material evidence in tandem with a paucity of written records. They welcome contributions especially regarding architecture but also elements of sculpture, painting and glass, as well as their internal (and external) fittings and furnishings. Papers must be foremost concerned with buildings that are primarily parochial, as distinct from abbeys and cathedrals. Possible areas of inquiry include but are not limited to:

  • Sutterton naveBig data and the understanding of artistic processes through comprehensive regional surveys and categorisation, including the use of online crowd-sourcing techniques
  • The intersection of liturgical function and architectural form, perhaps through innovative strategies such as practical re-enactment
  • Understanding architectural spaces through visual and other sensory perception
  • Aesthetics and allegory: the ’period eye’ approach to understanding medieval art through contemporary literature
  • Formal analysis, and its use in understanding the operation of architectural workshops
  • Archaeology and structural investigation
  • Interactions or distinctions between rural and urban parish churches
  • The geography and topography of the parish church in relation to its surroundings
  • The effect of funerary monuments and individual commemoration.
  • Lay sponsorship and creative involvement in parochial architecture
  • Replacement, retention or adaption of older fabric
  • Comparisons of English parochial architecture with that of the Continent

Please submit abstracts of up to 300 words, as well as a current c.v., to Dr James Alexander Cameron and Meg Bernstein at TAAHOTPC@gmail.com by December 15, 2016. There may be limited funds available to defray costs of travel for speakers. It is intended that conference transactions will be published.

For more updates on the conference, watch the page on The Courtauld website

Conference review: Commemoration of the Dead: new approaches, new perspectives, new material (15 November 2014)

There was a packed conference room in the newly-refurbished Institute of Historical Research at Senate House, as eager members of the Church Monuments and Monumental Brass Societies gathered to hear about new approaches to incised brass memorials. As a sequel of sorts to a conference reconsidering approaches to funerary monuments on the half-centenary of Panofsky’s Tomb Sculpture held at the Courtauld Institute in July, the stakes were high for a day on one of the potentially less-colourful genres of late medieval art production. However, the conference proved that brasses could also produce many novel and intellectually profitable methodologies, rather than inward-looking and basically descriptive case studies.

Heythrop, Oxfordshire

Stained glass commemorating John Ashfield (d. 1521), Heythrop parish church, Oxfordshire – via Flickr Martin Beek

Richard Marks (‘Brass and Glass’: the medieval tomb-window) began the day with some pearls he had discovered in his relentless trawling of late medieval parochial wills, and that “brass and glass” was more than just a rhyme: many church windows acted as surrogate funerary monuments. Without the wills, there would be no way of knowing that the fragments of stained glass were patronised by the memorialised person under our feet. The use of documents to consider individual agency was also explored by Jessica Knowles on All Saints North Street in York (’Controlling the Past’: the Medieval Brasses of All Saints North Street, York), and at the end of the day by Christian Steer on the brasses in the lost London convent of the Friars Minor (’A Melting Pot of Death’: Burials and Brasses in the London Grey Friars). This veritable carpet of memory raised the intriguing questions of why the Franciscans were so popular among well-to-do Londoners, and how the friars themselves – supposedly unable to own property – bought their own brasses.

Brügge, Sint-Jakobsplein, Sint-Jakobskerk, Kupfergrabplatte der Katheline d'Ault (St. James's Church, tomb cover of Catherine d'Ault)

Brass of Catherine d’Ault d.1451, St James, Bruges – via Flickr HEN-magonza

The idea of the importance of patrons’ agency in the design of memorials was raised in the paper by Matthew Ward discussing Chellaston alabaster workshops (Late Medieval Style: the Role of Agency and the Workshop). Michael Carter then showed how an alleged London Type-B brass in Fountains Abbey was almost certainly later than the usual timespan of that workshop; instead the evidence of the iconographical motif of raising a mitre to show off a cleric’s doctoral credentials gave us the identity of the commemorated abbot (The Mysterious Mitre on the Monument). Looking outside of the constraints of the medium continued: Harriette Peel (Women, Children and Guardian Angeles in Late Medieval Flemish Funerary Art) also used novel iconographical analysis to show that a Flemish brass commemorating a young girl may be making appeal to female hagiography through its inclusion of a guardian angel. Sanne Frequin brought colour to proceedings with some technical findings of the polychromy of Tournai Marble monuments: supposedly a “pure” medium like brass (Tournai Stone: an investigation of materiality).

Nijmegen, Sint Stevenskerk

Tomb of Catherine Bourboun (d.1465), St Stephen, Nijmegen – via Flickr Stewie1980

It is often forgotten that England, with its religious rather than social revolution, has a much richer corpus of funerary monuments than much of Europe. Ann Adams used the English corpus of tomb chest-top brasses to creatively illuminate the apparently peculiar choice of the genre over sculpted effigies by some Flemish nobles (‘Revealed and Concealed’: Monumental Brasses on Tomb Chests – the examples of John I, Duke of Cleves and Catherine of Bourbon). Robert Marcoux (The Social Meaning and Artistic Potential of a Medium: Brass and the Medieval Tombs of the Gaignières Collection) reminded us of the importance of the Gaignières collection in the absence of the physical objects, and demonstrated its statistical potential in mapping aesthetic tastes over time. The varied papers, coupled with a lively, knowledgeable and generous audience, made for a day that proved that the humble brass lurking under the carpet in many a parish church can prove a lucrative genre for the modern art historian’s inquiry.

This review was originally published in Medieval Memorial Research newsletter, a free biannual summary on current developments concerning research in memoria of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period (till circa 1600), and is part of Medieval Memoria Online.