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.
St. Albans and the Markyate Psalter: Seeing and Reading in Twelfth-Century England
Edited by Kristen Collins and Matthew Fisher
November 2017 ARC Humanities Press
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.
Early Career Post-Doctoral Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts
Thanks to external funding, we are pleased to announce a new 3 year fixed-term position in the Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern section at the British Library, for a Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts. The successful candidate will have recently completed a doctoral degree in medieval art history, history, literature or another closely-related discipline, or its equivalent, and have the specialist knowledge and strong research experience appropriate for an early career researcher. The new curator will assist the Lead Curator, Illuminated Manuscripts, in all aspects of curatorial work. The principal duties will include cataloguing, describing and publicising medieval and illuminated manuscripts.
University of Edinburgh, 28th – 29th of June, 2018
CfP Deadline: March 15
Medieval illuminated scenes and initials today illustrate a myriad of book covers, chosen as the perfect embodiment of a historical episode, idea, or biography. From detailed scenes to sketchy drawings, illuminated manuscripts offer a sometimes overlooked illustration of medieval life. However, unlike the late centuries of the medieval millennium, the study of the Early Middle Ages is not normally backed by abundant documentation, and conjecture and speculation often prevail, particularly in art historical publications. Early medieval illuminated manuscripts were mostly tools of liturgy and prayer, but also patronage statements and transmission agents for science, music, and literature in a historical period. Only in recent decades has the study of this era begun to emerge from the lasting shadow of pejorative Gibbonian assumptions.
The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700-1200
A new project is underway to open up further the unparalleled collections of illuminated manuscripts held by the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France. In a ground-breaking new collaborative project the national libraries of Britain and France will work together to create two innovative new websites that will make 800 manuscripts decorated before the year 1200 available freely. The Bibliothèque nationale de France will create a new bilingual website that will allow side-by-side comparison of 400 manuscripts from each collection, selected for their beauty and interest. The British Library will create a bilingual website intended for a general audience that will feature highlights from the most important of these manuscripts and articles commissioned by leading experts in the field. Both websites will be online by November 2018.
Before the introduction of printing to Europe, all books were written by hand as manuscripts. The most luxurious of these were illuminated, literally ‘lit up’ by decorations and pictures in brightly coloured pigments and burnished gold leaf. All manuscripts — whether they are luxurious biblical or liturgical manuscripts, copies of classical literature or patristic, theological, historical or scientific texts — are valuable historical documents that can deepen and expand our understanding of the political, social and cultural life of the eras in which they were made. Their research value is inestimable.
The British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France have two of the largest collections of medieval manuscripts in the world. As a result of France and England being so closely entwined through periods of war, conquest and alliance and, in the medieval period, both nations claiming territory in France at times, both libraries have particularly strong holdings of French manuscripts produced in France or in Britain (but written in French or Latin).
This new project will add to the growing numbers of manuscript material available in full online as part of wider programmes to make these cultural treasures available to everyone around the world. At the British Library, over 8,000 items are currently available on our Digitised Manuscripts website. Similarly, thousands of items are available from the Bibliothèque nationale de France collections on its website, Gallica.
This exciting project is made possible by a generous grant from The Polonsky Foundation. Dr Leonard Polonsky remarks that ‘our Foundation is privileged to be supporting these two leading institutions in preserving the riches of the world’s cultural heritage and making them available in innovative and creative ways, both to scholars and to a wider public’.
The Polonsky Foundation is a UK-registered charity which primarily supports cultural heritage, scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, and innovation in higher education and the arts. Its principal activities include the digitisation of significant collections at leading libraries (the British Library; the Bibliothèque nationale de France; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; Cambridge University Library; the New York Public Library; the Library of Congress; the Vatican Apostolic Library); support for Theatre for a New Audience at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn, New York; and post-doctoral fellowships at The Polonsky Academy for the Advanced Study of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Its founder and chairman, Dr Leonard S. Polonsky, was named a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for charitable services in 2013.
The focus on the digitisation project will be on manuscripts produced on either side of the English Channel between 700 and 1200. The manuscripts from this period open up a window on a time of close cultural and political exchange during which scribes moved and worked in what is now France, Normandy and England. Decorated manuscripts containing literary, historical, biblical and theological texts will be included, representing the mutual strengths of the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Online access to these manuscripts will support new research into how manuscripts — and people — travelled around Europe in this period. New connections will be made possible by studying the two collections side by side.
For example, the manuscripts selected will include a number of illuminated Gospel-books, providing a witness to the changing tastes, influences and borrowings reflected in the books’ design and script. So a 9th-century, a 10th-century and a late 12th-century Gospel-book all have colourful illuminated initials with geometric patterns, floral decoration or animals heads, yet their execution is very different. The script, colours, style and subjects of the illumination all provide clues to the time and place of their composition. With the digitisation of manuscripts all these features may be studied and enjoyed in detail.
As well as making 800 manuscripts freely available online, the project will be part of a wider programme of activities aimed at researchers and the general public. A number of the manuscripts digitised will be displayed in a major international exhibition on Anglo-Saxon England to be held at the British Library from October 2018 to February 2019, which will highlight connections between Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent.
A conference at the British Library will coincide with the Anglo-Saxon exhibition (December 2018), and a project conference will be held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. An illustrated book showcasing beautiful and significant manuscripts from the collections will also be produced. Another output will be a film on the digitisation project that, together with the other aspects of the public programme, will open up new paths into collections for a variety of audiences.
The original version of this blog post in the British Library Medieval Manuscripts Blog can be found here.
Adapted for Medieval Art Research blog by Amy Jeffs
Original text by Tuija Ainonen
Le jeudi 18 mai 2017 se tiendra la journée thématique annuelle de l’IRHT consacrée aux marges. Ce thème, qui se trouve au carrefour des sciences du texte, rassemble toutes les sections du laboratoire, en ce qu’il touche aussi bien à la philologie, la lexicographie, l’histoire, la paléographie, qu’à la codicologie.
Autour du texte, dimension essentielle de la culture et de sa transmission, les espaces laissés vides sont devenus le réceptacle de mentions, décors, marques codicologiques, etc. qui participent à son histoire. Sur tous les supports – papyrus, parchemin ou papier, manuscrit ou imprimé – et quel que soit le type de document, des écrits de la pratique aux livres liturgiques, en passant par les textes scientifiques et juridiques, ces ajouts, contemporains ou postérieurs, doivent être analysés. Il s’agira ainsi de rendre compte de pratiques éditoriales (rubriques, manchettes, références, iconographie), de pratiques de lecture et d’utilisation des textes transmis (marques de repérage, annotations, gloses, commentaires), mais également de tout autre type d’ajouts indépendants (mentions de noms, listes de livres, décomptes).