St Gregory, Miracles Stories, and the Circulation of Late Medieval Imagery
On this day in 590, Gregory, the son of a Roman senator, was elected as Pope at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Often called Gregory the Great because of his many influential writings and liturgical reforms of the Mass, Gregory is often considered to be the first medieval pope. The last of the Latin Fathers, he was responsible for sending St Augustine of Canterbury to England in 597. Upon his death in 604, he was almost immediately made a saint of the Church. Up until 1969, his feast day was celebrated on 12 March (the day of his death). Due to scheduling issues with the Lenten liturgy, his feast day was moved to 3 September, the day it is said he was elected pope.
Gold Against the Body: Gold Surfaces and Their Limits, Medieval to Early Modern
Alison Wright, UCL
5:00pm, 43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD
For the last Murray Seminar of the year, Alison Wright of UCL presents a paper entitled Gold against the Body: gold surfaces and their limits, medieval to early modern.
The myth, famously invoked in Goldfinger, of the human body suffocated by being coated in gold exemplifies the fascination and danger attached to the idea of an ‘excess’ of gold, especially in respect to human skin. In this lecture the slippery boundaries of when, where and for whom gold surfaces might be deemed excessive will be explored in relation to European art, especially Italian, of the 14th to early 16th centuries. The discussion of gold in representation is generally dominated for this period by Alberti’s overturning of the value of gilding on the painted surface. This talk will argue rather for the multiple economies of gold in art with reference to broader visual and material traditions, and focus especially on gold’s complex relation to the human body.
Seminars take place in the History of Art Department at Birkbeck (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in Room 114 (The Keynes Library) at 5pm. Talks finish by 5.50pm (allowing those with other commitments to leave) and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.
The Murray Seminar series will continue next autumn term.
The end of term is in sight and the days are getting longer. And that means we’re all daydreaming of summer. Whether your summer plans call for research or relaxation, take advantage of some stellar temporary exhibitions happening around the globe that are highlighting the production, context, and craftsmanship of medieval art. These exhibitions are pushing boundaries, considering new contexts, and boasting bold feats—several of these exhibitions present artworks on view in North America and Europe for the first time. Let us know your favourites by sharing your thoughts in the comments below. Happy Summer!
Mary of Guelders’ richly illuminated prayer book, written by Helmich die Lewe and completed in 1415, is extraordinary for several reasons: it originally consisted of more than 600 folia, it is richly illuminated, it was written in the Lower Rhine vernacular, and it contains an unusual compilation of prayers, hours and components of a breviary. These past few years the book has been the focus of a research project spearheaded by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and Radboud University in Nijmegen. Their hard work has yielded enough noteworthy results to deserve its own exhibition which will open in Museum Het Valkhof on 13 October 2018 and will run until 6 January 2019. It will feature the research’s findings on the comprehensive and complex prayer book, the life of Mary, Duchess of Jülich and Guelders, and cultural developments in the duchies of Guelders, Jülich and Berg. To mark the occasion of the exhibition entitled ‘I, Mary of Guelders. The duchess and her extraordinary prayer book’ Radboud University is organising a two-day conference in Nijmegen together with Museum Het Valkhof and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.
One of the most compelling and provocative books of twelfth-century England, the Markyate Psalter was probably produced at St. Albans Abbey between 1120 and 1140. The manuscript has been known by many names: the St. Albans Psalter, the Albani Psalter, the Hildesheim Psalter, and the Psalter of Christina of Markyate. Heralded as a high point of English Romanesque illumination, the manuscript contains the earliest known copy of the saint’s life known as Chanson de St. Alexis. This volume explores the manuscript’s many contexts, reading its texts and images amidst the rising internationalism of the period, marked by the circulation of objects, ideas, and peoples. Some of the leading scholars of twelfth-century manuscript studies here explore the Markyate Psalter, understanding it through new methodologies, pursuing innovative lines of inquiry. The collection shines fresh light on a well-known manuscript, and promises to open important lines of discourse about the book and its readers.
Introduction by Kristen Collins and Matthew Fisher
Saint Anselm’s “Grand Tour” and the Full-Page Picture Cycle in the Markyate Psalter by T. A. Heslop
The Patronage and Ownership of the Markyate Psalter by Nigel Morgan
Handling the Letter by Aden Kumler
The Repainting of Psalm 101 and Meaningful Change in the Markyate Psalter by Kristen Collins and Nancy K. Turner
Voicing the Psalms in the Markyate Psalter: Devotional Experience and Experiments with Images and Words by Kerry Boeye
Intercessory Prayer and the Initials of the Markyate Psalter by Rachel Koopmans La Vie de Saint Alexis and the Alexis Quire in the Crusading Context by Zrinka Stahuljak
The Psalmist and the Saint: David, Alexis, and the Construction of Meaning in a Twelfth-Century Composite Manuscript by Kathryn Gerry
Blindness and Insight, Seeing and Believing: Reading Two Emmaus Sequences from St. Albans by Morgan Powell
Praying with Pictures in the Gough Psalter by Martin Kauffmann
Madness and Innocence: Reading the Infancy Cycle of a Romanesque Vita Christi by Kristen Collins
The St. Albans Psalter Monograph of 1960: Fifty Years Later by J. J. G. Alexander
Kristen Collins is associate curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Matthew Fisher is associate professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles.