Tag Archives: iconography

British Museum Handling Session: The Trinity

GodwinOn Wednesday 24 January 2018 Lloyd de Beer and Naomi Speakman once again welcomed a group of staff and students from The Courtauld and elsewhere, as well as Sophie Kelly, PhD student from the University of Kent. The focus of our session was objects in the British Museum collection with links to the Trinity.

We looked at eleven objects with Trinitarian iconography, the earliest of which was the walrus ivory seal die of Godwin the Thane, dating from the early eleventh century. Beautifully carved with iconography inspired by Psalm 109 (110), ‘The Lord said unto my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand and I will make thine enemies thy footstool’. The decoration on the handle consists of God the Father and Son in relief, enthroned over a prostrate human figure. We were very interested to investigate the evidence of damage above the two figures which, we agreed, was likely to have once included a symbol of the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove.

The Trinity also features on a fourteenth-century circular bronze seal-matrix (with wax impression) with a loop at top. Here the Trinity is depicted as three near-identical figures with an inscription ‘SCA TRINITAS.VHVS.DEVS’. The third seal which we saw was the fifteenth-century circular bronze seal-matrix (with wax impression) of the Friars of the Holy Trinity, Hounslow. Under a Gothic canopy with side-tabernacles the Trinity is depicted in a manner which allowed us to discuss different ways of representing the Trinity in the Middle Ages. Here, the iconography known as the Throne of Grace (Gnadenstuhl), is used. In these depictions of the Trinity, God the Father is seated and holds the cross upon which Jesus Christ is crucified in front of his lap, with the dove of the Holy Spirit alongside. This iconography became popular from the thirteenth century and is seen across a wide range of artistic media, including manuscripts, stained glass and stone carving. The Trinity depicted as the Throne of Grace also appeared on a late Medieval gold finger ring. With the help of a magnifying glass we were able to appreciate the detailed depiction of the Trinity on the oval bezel of the ring, which included the dove which is shown between Christ’s right arm and God the Father.

 

Black Prince badgeWe discussed Plantagenet devotion to the Trinity evidenced through the lead Badge of the Black Prince of c.1376 which shows the Black Prince kneeling before Trinity (although the dove is missing). The Black Prince wears a tabard with Arms of England and has thrown down his gauntlet before him; above him is an angel in clouds holding his shield. We also looked at two Anglo-Saxon ivory plaques depicting the Crucifixion. Above the head of Christ, the Hand of God is depicted, thereby alerting us to the presence of two persons of the Trinity. This led to discussion related to how we might understand images where one of the member of the Trinity is ‘missing’; can the presence of the other person be implied?

 

An object which we all found challenging was a wood-carved relief representing the Trinity (also in the Throne of Mercy composition) dated 1450-1500 and including depictions of the Annunciation, St Francis of Assisi, St Bernardino and St Sebastian. The largest object encountered was a late Medieval alabaster Coronation of the Virgin which still shows traces of painting and gilding. Here the Virgin is surrounded by the persons of the Trinity represented as three crowned figures.

close looking

In preparation for the handling session we read the following texts and discussed them at a reading group the night before:

 

Bernard McGinn, ‘Theologians as Trinitarian Iconographers’, In: Jeffrey Hamburger and Anne-Marie Bouché The Mind’s Eye. Art and Theological Argument in the Middle Ages, Princeton, 2006, 186-207

André Grabar, ‘Dogmas Expressed in a Single Image’, In: Christian Iconography. A Study of its Origins, London, 1969, 112-127

Jacobus De Voragine, ‘The Holy Spirit’, In: The Golden Legend, Princeton, 1993, 299-306

We looked at the definition of the Trinity in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford, 1997), and were interested to explore the tension between theology and iconography. In particular, how can dogma such as the Trinity be represented? Grabar and McGinn have contrasting views on what constitutes ‘successful’ iconography; McGinn sees artistic experimentation and lack of iconographic stability as positives, whereas Grabar suggests that the fact an image appears in limited or isolated circumstances makes it a failure. To aid our discussions, we looked at some manuscript images of the Trinity. These included: British Library, MS Cotton Tiberius C vi (Tiberius Psalter); British Library, MS Cotton Titus D. xxvii (Ælfwine’s Prayerbook); British Library, MS Add. 34890 (Grimbald Gospels); British Library MS Cotton B IV (Aelfric’s Hexateuch); British Library, MS Harley 603 (Harley Psalter); MS Lansdowne 383 (the Shaftesbury Psalter); Winchester Bible, Winchester Cathedral; and St John’s College, Cambridge, MS K 26 (St John’s Psalter). We discussed the experimental nature of Trinitarian iconography and how this might help us understand the chancel wall painting of the Throne of Grace at the Church of St Mary, Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk which is unique, and the earliest known appearance of this motif.

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Books Roundup: New Titles on Medieval Art

 

We would like to draw your attention to three new books on medieval art that came out in 2017: on architecture, metalwork and the iconography of St. John’s head.

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CFP: 12th Conference of Iconographic Studies: Iconography of Pain, Rijeka (Croatia),  May 31 – June 01, 2018

Call for Papers: 12th Conference of Iconographic Studies: Iconography of Pain, Rijeka (Croatia),  May 31 – June 01, 2018
Deadline: 20 January 2018

The conference seeks to explore and discuss recent development in the dialogue between art history, history, theology, philosophy, cultural theory and other relevant disciplines concerning the representation and perception of pain (both physical and emotional) in history. Pain represents not only one of the very used subjects in art but also the strong creative force for many artists. It has been recently discussed as being a transformative force in cultural production but also beyond the cultural and temporal boundaries. It can be also perceived within specific methodological paradigm of the Warburg’s Pathosformel as well as within the broader theoretical contexts. We welcome academic papers that will approach these subjects in interdisciplinary and methodologically diverse angles. The themes and subjects include, but are not limited to the following:

  • pain as art form
  • torture, punishment and penal iconography
  • spectacle(s) of pain
  • violence in visual culture
  • martyrs and martyrdoms
  • passion iconography
  • dealing with pain – images of medical and other treatments in history
  • pain as creative impulse in art
  • (in)expressibility of physical pain

Paper proposals should be submitted electronically to cis@ffri.hr

A paper proposal should contain:

  1. full name, institution, affiliation, address, phone number(s), e-mail address
  2. title
  3. abstract (maximum 2 pages – 500 words)

Deadline: January 20, 2018

Invitations to participate will be sent out by email before February 20, 2018

There is NO registration fee

Administration and organizational costs, working materials, lunch and coffee breaks during conference, closing dinner as well as all organized visits are covered by the organizers.

All presented papers will be published in the thematic issue of the IKON journal in May 2019.

CFP: St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child (County Durham, 19 Jun 2017)

St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child' by Dieric Bout the Elder

‘St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child’ by Dieric Bout the Elder

County Durham, The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, June 19, 2017
Deadline: May 8, 2017

CVAC Study Day ‘St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child: Constructing Narratives’

Following an export bar in July 2016, The Bowes Museum acquired the outstanding painting, ‘St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child’ by Dieric Bout the Elder with support from the the Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and a number of private donors. The painting is of major importance due to its connection with the artist, deemed one of the leading and most influential Netherlandish painters of his time.

This interdisciplinary study day aims to look at the painting ‘St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child’ in the broad context of visual culture: exploring sainthood and investigating visual representations of sanctity, looking at perspective, with a particular attention to interiors and architecture in early modern Europe, and analysing identity and self-imagery.

The event is designed to be a cross- and inter-disciplinary study day where scholars, postgraduate and early career researchers can meet, debate, and collaborate on all issues pertaining to visual culture.

The Bowes Museum and CVAC invite proposals for thirty-minute papers from scholars, postgraduate and early career researchers that address any aspect of art, literature, history, and culture, with a particular attention to:

–    Sainthood from Medieval to contemporary time;
–    Visual representation of saints;
–    Architecture and interiors in early modern Europe;
–    Portraiture and identity;
–    The theory and practice of perspective;
–    Patronage and trade and circulation in early modern Europe.

The study day will take place at The Bowes Museum on 19 June 2017, with a number of thirty-minute papers, followed by discussion, and including lunch and morning and afternoon refreshments.

Abstracts of up to 200 words along with a brief biography should be submitted in the body of an email to
catherine.dickinson@thebowesmuseum.org.uk .

The closing date for submissions is Monday 8 May 2017, at 5pm.

For more details, please contact
catherine.dickinson@thebowesmuseum.org.uk

Conference: The Profane within the Sacred in Medieval Art, Aguilar de Campoo, Sept 29th – Oct 1st 2017 (VII Colloquium Ars Mediaevalis)

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Conference: The Profane within the Sacred in Medieval Art, Fundación Santa Maria la Real – Aguilar de Campo (SPAIN), Sept 29th – Oct 1st 2017.

CFP for 20-minute ‘free papers’ open until 30 June 2017
How to apply:
send an email with name, Academic institution, 1 page abstract and main bibliography to plhuerta@santamarialareal.org

How to enrol in the conference: email: plhuerta@santamarialareal.org
Price:
Regular 125 € Reduced 90 € Special (students) 60 €

In his The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, the sociologist Émile Durkheim formulated the idea that the division of the world into two domains is the distinctive feature of religious thought, one containing the sacred and the other all that is profane. Durkheim’s distinction cannot be applied to medieval art, however, in which the mixing of secular motifs in religious objects, images, and architecture was characteristic –at least not without complicating the theoretical notion. The senmurf on the eleventh-century reliquary of St. Matthew in SS. Cosma e Damiano in Rome, the figure copied from Orestes on the ancient Husillos sarcophagus above the altar at Fromista, a fragment of victory killing a barbarian from a consular diptych re-used on a 11th/12th century book cover, and the incorporation of diagrams and motifs from natural science in the “aula gotica” in SS. Quattro Coronati in Rome are among myriad examples that document why this is the case.

In one of the best-known texts related to medieval art, Bernard of Clairvaux railed against the imaginative variety of profane art displayed in twelfth-century Cluniac monasteries, which he considered to be a subversion of the moral order of monastic life. Bernard’s diatribe not only confirms the fact that linking the two realms was common but also raises the question of audience and hence also spatiality. As the anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard postulated, sacredness (and therefore the profane) might be considered as situational, in a chronological as well as in a spatial sense. An object considered sacred in a given period may be considered profane or magical in a different time and/or space; decontextualization and reuse are thus also important issues related to the topic. Profane does not always imply anti-sacred. Indeed, given the fact that profanus means “in front of the consecrated enclosure,” the inclusion of secular elements within sacred domains suggests a dynamic interweaving that extends beyond the mere incorporation of motifs and objects. Sometimes the contacts between the two domains was regulated by rites that provided the conditions within which the relationship was made possible (i.e. consecration); other times, as when natural science was assimilated into the choice and manufacture of materials, the overlapping of sacred and profane underlies the processes of art.

In recent decades, historians have explored the uses of subversive elements in sacred art –from marginalia in illuminated manuscripts to coin-imagery and stamping incorporated in Eucharistic hosts. The conference Ars Mediaevalis 2017 sets out to assess the results of the advances made by the new art historiography and, more important, to open up still-unmapped paths for future study of the profane within the sacred during the Middle Ages.

Programme:

Friday, 29th September
Aguilar de Campoo

09.45h : Colloquium Ars Mediaevalis Opening
Chair: Francesca Español UB

10.00h Michele Bacci, Université de Fribourg – Intrusos en los iconos: perspectivas comparativas sobre los retratos individuales en la iconografia sagrada
10.45h Discussion

11.45h Philippe Cordez, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München – Le repentir d’un magicien ? Les camées de la statuette de David à la cathédrale de Bâle (vers 1320)
12.30h Free paper
12.50h Discussion

16.00h Fernado Villansenor, Universidad de Cantabria – Lo profano y sus espacios: discursos marginales en la Castilla tardogótica
16.45h Javier Docampo, Biblioteca Nacional de España – Las representaciones de los trabajos de los meses en libros de horas: la construcción de un imaginario social
17.15 Discussion

17.45 Round table. “Profano: perímetros espaciales, iconicos y semanticos en el arte medieval / Profane: spatial, iconic, and semantic edges in medieval art” Gerardo Boto.

18.45 Public presentation of the new editorial series “Ars Mediaevalis. Estudios de arte medieval”

Saturday, 30th September
Palencia

(Chair: Fernando Gutiérrez Baños UVA)

10.00h Kathrin Müller, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main Subversive – Devices: Cosmological Diagrams and the Problem of the Sacred
10.45h Free paper
11.05h Discussion

12.00h Beate Fricke, Universität Bern – Representing the Cosmos’ Origins, illuminating cosmological thoughts
12.45h Free paper
13.05h Discussion
16.00h Academic visit: Burgos: Santa María de las Huelgas Reales; Cartuja de Miraflores

Sunday, October 1st
Agilar de Campoo

(Chair: Javier Martínez Aguirre UCM)

09.15h Milagros Guardia, Universitat de Barcelona – Las pinturas murales de Sant Joan de Boi: de como contextualizar la iconografia profana
10.00h Free paper
10.20h Discussion
11.20h Free paper

11.40h Herbert L. Kessler, Johns Hopkins University / Masaryk University – From Vanitas to Veritas: the Profane as a Fifth Mode of Seeing
12.20h Discussion

13.00h Conclusions and perspectives
13.15h Closing ceremony

 

New Publications: Romanesque Cathedrals in Mediterranean Europe

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Romanesque Cathedrals in Mediterranean Europe: 
Architecture, Ritual and Urban Context

Boto Varela, J. E.A. Kroesen (eds.)

Brepols Publishers

This volume explores the architecture and layout of Romanesque cathedrals in Europe, especially around the Mediterranean, paying special attention to liturgical ritual, church furnishings, iconography, and urban context.

The architecture, interior settings and urban environment of Romanesque cathedrals around the Mediterranean offer unique insights into religion and culture in southern Europe during the 10th-13th centuries. In this period, cultural and artistic interchange around the Mediterranean gave rise to the first truly European art period in Medieval Western Europe, commonly referred to as ‘Romanesque’. A crucial aspect of this integrative process was the mobility of artists, architects and patrons, as well as the capacity to adopt new formulas and integrate them into existing patterns. Some particularly creative centers exported successful models, while others became genuine melting pots. All this took shape over the substrate of Roman Antiquity, which remained in high esteem and was frequently reused.

In these studies, Romanesque cathedrals are employed as a lens with which to analyze the complexity and dynamics of the cultural landscape of southern and central Europe from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. The architecture of every cathedral is the result of a long and complicated process of morphogenesis, defined by spatial conditions and the availability of building materials. Their interior arrangements and imagery largely reflected ritual practice and the desire to express local identities. The various contributions to this volume discuss the architecture, interior, and urban setting of Romanesque cathedrals and analyze the factors which helped to shape them. In so doing, the focus is both on the influence of patrons and on more bottom-up factors, including community practices.

Call for Submissions: Revista Digital de Iconografía Medieval

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACall for Submissions: Revista Digital de Iconografía Medieval

The open-access peer-reviewed Revista Digital de Iconografía Medieval seeks articles for publication in one of the journal’s two sections:

  • Monographic studies of iconography: from a general point of view, it will be analyzed a topic or symbol of medieval repertory, either of biblical precedence or apocryphal, mythological, scientific, etc.
  • Transversal studies of iconography: from a specific point of view, it will be analyzed one or several works of art with an iconographical relationship.

Articles for should be sent by email to irgonzal@ghis.ucm.es. The text must be written in Spanish, English or French, in a Word file.
Images, only accepted in JPG, GIF, TIFF, of BMP file, should be attached together with a list of contents including all the information concerning the work of art depicted and the origin of the reproduction.
The work must be original and conform to the rules of publication of the journal, both in extent and in the organization of the content and formal requirements.

For more information and for the journal’s editorial guidelines, click here.