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.
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.
Call for Submissions: Edited volume: Illuminating Metalwork: Metal, Object, and Image in Medieval ManuscriptsDeadline
Deadline: December 1, 2017
Edited volume: Illuminating Metalwork: Metal, Object, and Image in Medieval Manuscripts
Volume editors: Joseph Salvatore Ackley and Shannon L. Wearing
Deadline for submitting a proposal (500 words) and brief bio: 1 December 2017
Notification of submission status: 15 December 2017
Anticipated submission of completed texts: 1 October 2018
Historians of Western medieval, Byzantine, and Islamic art are invited to contribute essays to a volume on the representation of precious metalwork in medieval manuscripts.
The makers of medieval manuscripts frequently placed special emphasis on the depiction of precious-metal objects, both sacred and secular, including chalices, reliquaries, crosses, tableware, and figural sculpture. Artists typically rendered these objects using gold, silver, and metal alloys, “medium-specific” materials that richly and pointedly contrasted with the surrounding color pigments. The visual characteristics of these depicted metal things—lustrous yet flat, almost anti-representational—could dazzle, but perhaps also disorient: they grab the eye while creating a fertile tension between the representation of an object and the presentation of a precious stuff, between the pictorial and the material. A gold-leaf chalice signals its referent both iconically, via its shape, and indexically, via its metal material—a semiotic duality unavailable to the remainder of the painted miniature—and such images might accrue additional complexities when intended to represent known real-world objects.
This volume of essays will take inventory of how manuscript illuminators chose to depict precious metalwork and how these depictions generated meaning. The prominent application of metal leaf is one of the most distinguishing features of medieval manuscript illumination (only those books thus decorated technically merit the designation “illuminated”), and yet, despite its hallmark status, it has rarely served as a central subject of scholarly scrutiny and critique. In addressing both the use of metal leaf and the representation of precious-metal objects (via metallic and non-metallic media alike), Illuminating Metalwork seeks to remedy this lacuna. This volume will enhance traditionally fruitful approaches to medieval manuscript illumination, such as those analyzing text/image dynamics, pictorial mimesis, or public vs. private reception, by considering issues of materiality, preciousness, and presence. By focusing on the representation of precious metalwork, these studies will introduce new paths of inquiry beyond the depiction of actual objects and incorporate analyses of the use and simulation of metallic preciousness more broadly.
We invite essays that represent the full temporal and geographic scope of medieval manuscript painting—from Late Antiquity into the early modern era, from the Latin West to the Byzantine and Islamic East—in order to foster trans-historical and cross-cultural analysis. Possible themes include: chronological/geographical specificities in the representation of metalwork in manuscript illuminations; depictions of precious-metal figural sculpture, including idols; artistic technique and technical analysis (e.g. pigment vs. leaf, and the alloys used therein); the semiotics of metal on parchment; the phenomenology of the encounter; and whether we can speak of “portraits” of particular objects and/or visual “inventories” of specific collections.
Conference: Art et économie en France et en Italie au XIVe siècle. Nouvelles enquêtes,Art et économie en France et en Italie au XIVe siècle. Nouvelles enquêtes, Université de Lausanne, 19-20 October 2017
Jeudi 19 octobre 2017
Nicolas Bock, Michele Tomasi
14h30 L’Italie au Trecento et au Quattrocento : da Giotto alla morte !
Giotto & Cie. Réflexions sur le marché pictural florentin dans le deuxième quart du Trecento
Finanze e attività imprenditoriale nelle industrie pittoriche, orafe e di carpenteria nella Firenze del primo Rinascimento. Come la seta divenne una specialità fiorentina
Arte, civiltà comunale ed economia nell’Appennino umbro-marchigiano
Il cantiere del coro trecentesco del duomo di Orvieto: manovalanza, materiali, costi e finanziamenti
Spese della morte: investimenti per l’aldilà (e per l’al di qua) e pratica artistica (Italia, XIII-XIV secolo)
Vendredi 20 octobre 2017
9h00 Les arts de luxe
Orfèvreries à Mantoue au XIVe siècle : frais, évaluations, valeurs de marché
Vetri dorati e graffiti del basso medioevo: economia di una bottega assisiate e mercato fiorentino
Le occasioni del mercato artistico parigino del Trecento e la carriera dell’orafo Jean le Braelier
11h30 Entre l’Italie et la France
Teodoro De Giorgio
La riorganizzazione del sistema fiscale della corte pontificia avignonese sotto Giovanni XXII (1316-1334) e il nuovo volto del mecenatismo artistico papale
L’usage du bois précieux dans le château en France et en Bourgogne (1350-1450)
14h00 Perspectives méditerranéennes
Economic Fluctuations and Artistic Production in The Kingdom of Majorca
Prima di Antonello. Nuovi culti, spazio sacro e potere economico, nella Messina tra Due e Trecento
15h00 En ouvrant encore les horizons
L’économie du travail artistique au XIVe siècle en France et en Italie
La spécificité du secteur de l’art dans l’économie du bas Moyen Âge
Job: Curator of Medieval Art and Design, V&A Museum, London
Deadline: 29 September 2017
The V&A is seeking to appoint a Curator of Medieval Art and Design to join the Department of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass.
The post-holder will be responsible for the development, care, research, display and interpretation of medieval art and design (excluding manuscripts, which are held in the National Art Library) in the Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass Department. The extensive European medieval collections are of national and international importance, and the post-holder will serve a wider role within the Department and the Museum as one of the medieval specialists, and will be expected to play an active role in the field of medieval studies and collecting, both nationally and internationally.
The successful candidate will have practical experience of collections management, excellent organisational, interpersonal and writing skills and experience in research and publication. They will be comfortable working across decorative arts collections, contributing to the V&A FuturePlan and exhibition projects, and cultivating and cementing good relations with external organisations and communities.
For further information on the post and to submit your application visit the V&A’s Recruitment Portal.
Reflections on the Thomas Becket Study Day, 7th June 2017, Canterbury Cathedral
There could scarcely be a more appropriate setting for a study day on the theme of Thomas Becket than Canterbury Cathedral, the location of the archbishop’s martyrdom nearly 850 years ago on the 29th December 1170. In the Cathedral Library and Archives, just metres from the site of Becket’s murder in the North West Transept, experts from universities, museums and Canterbury heritage organisations gathered to discuss the saint’s life and cult.
The day began with a series of ‘quick fire’ presentations, each focusing on one theme or object related to Thomas Becket. The range of material gave an immediate sense of the scale and popularity of Becket’s cult in the Middle Ages and beyond. Some objects discussed have likely existed in the vicinity of Canterbury since they were produced, including a fragmentary sandstone ampulla mould discovered in the garden of 16 Watling Street (Dr Paul Bennett, Canterbury Archaeological Trust), a thirteenth-century cartulary made for Christ Church containing charters for the shrine of Thomas Becket (Professor Louise Wilkinson, Canterbury Christ Church University), the seal of Archbishop Simon Sudbury showing Becket’s martyrdom (Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh, University of Kent), and the spectacular miracle windows in the Trinity Chapel of the Cathedral itself (Professor Michael A. Michael, Christie’s Education).
Thomas Becket ampulla (or vessel), now in the British Museum, similar to the kind that would have been produced by the Watling Street mould discussed by Dr Paul Bennet. See more 3D models of pilgrim souvenirs here
Other delegates discussed geographically dispersed objects which originated or were believed to have originated in Canterbury. For instance, pilgrim souvenirs depicting Becket were bought by visitors to Canterbury and, it would seem, lost on the way home. These badges, with their intricate and compelling imagery, would have been worn on the bags, hats and garments of pilgrims as signs of their visit to Becket’s shrine and are now excavated from sites across Britain and Europe (Amy Jeffs and Dr Gabriel Byng, University of Cambridge and convenors of The Digital Pilgrim Project). Likewise, Dr Emily Guerry (University of Kent) discussed a series of vestments owned by Sens Cathedral that were reputedly worn by Becket and possibly used at Sens as contact relics.
A number of significant objects pertaining to Becket originated from further afield, both geographically and chronologically. Dr Tom Nickson (Courtauld Institute of Art), for example, presented on a c. 1200 altar frontal depicting Becket’s martyrdom found in the church of San Miguel in Almazán, which bears early witness to the popularity of Becket’s cult in Spain.
Becket’s later legacy was then examined. Lloyd De Beer (British Museum) assessed the sixteenth-century political and religious connotations of the saint’s martyrdom through the lens of Alberti’s The Martyr’s Picture (1581), displayed in the Venerable English College in Rome, and Naomi Speakman (British Museum) discussed Becket’s memory in post-Reformation England and his representation as an anti-martyr.
These evocative objects and themes provoked a lively concluding discussion that centred on the international nature of Becket’s cult and the extent to which the art associated with it imitated and/or innovated in order promote the saint and potency of his cult as a political tool.
This discussion was followed by an opportunity to see first-hand some of the extraordinary items associated with Becket. Cressida Williams, head of the Cathedral Archives and Library, had organised for an array of Becket-themed documents and objects from the Cathedral collections and various heritage organisations in Canterbury to be displayed together in the reading room of the Cathedral Archives. Among this impressive collection were two fragments of pink Tournai marble, discovered during excavations in the Cathedral grounds, which are thought to have come from the shrine of St Thomas himself. Also on display were a number of medieval seals from the Cathedral’s collections, including those of Archbishops Hubert Walter and Stephen Langton, which both depict Becket’s martyrdom. Dr Helen Gittos from the University of Kent discussed a particular treasure of the Cathedral Archive, the Professions of Obedience, a series of 170 documents now bound into a single volume that record the vows made by bishops during their consecration. These small vellum statements, which would have originally been sewn together in a continuous roll, contain the dates of bishops’ consecrations, and are thus immensely helpful in dating other contemporary documents based on a comparison of their palaeography. Becket’s entry is especially marked in the Professions by a statement in red noting his archiepiscopal status.
The later half of the afternoon saw the group move to the Cathedral stained glass studio, where Leonie Seliger, Head of the Stained Glass Conservation Department, led us in a discussion of the representation of Becket in the Cathedral glass. Notably, only three original thirteenth-century panels depicting Becket’s head survive, which Leonie encouraged us to find among her printed reproductions – a task that proved surprisingly difficult. We also had the opportunity to see some of medieval stained glass currently under restoration in the studio, and to hear from Leonie about the techniques that would have gone in to making these panels. A particular highlight was seeing how the colour of nine hundred year old stained glass was still bright and vivid when held up to the light.
A subsequent tour of the Cathedral offered a chance to see the miracle windows we had discussed in the glass studio in situ, along with the site of Becket’s shrine and several archiepiscopal and royal tombs. The tombs of Archbishops Sudbury and Mepham in the south aisle of the Choir afforded a particularly interactive experience; kneeling down at one of the vaulted prayer niches carved into the tombs’ exterior, penitents (or indeed academics) can experience an amplification not only of the music performed in the nearby Choir, but also their own whispered prayers and thoughts.
Professor Paul Binski (University of Cambridge) brought the study day to a close with a public lecture entitled ‘Thomas Becket and the Medieval Cult of Personality’. Drawing on many of the objects seen and discussed throughout the day, Professor Binski reflected on the idea of Becket’s ‘persona’ (as opposed to the modern notion of ‘personality’) and its importance in the formation and development of his cult. Much like a mask that can be put on or taken off, the medieval concept of an individual’s persona was related to their outer countenance, and formed by certain archetypal characteristics – both good and bad – often rooted in character types in biblical stories or saint’s lives. Becket’s persona and outer image, Professor Binski argued, was imitated in the art and architecture produced in response to his martyrdom, an aspect that was vital to the rapid dissemination and spread of the cult. Due in part to the accessibility of this image through objects made both for the elite and for the ordinary person, Becket’s persona transcended social as well as geographical boundaries, transforming his cult into a widespread, international phenomenon. Professor Binski’s concluding remarks on the appeal of the Becket’s cult in the Middle Ages had a particular resonance amidst of the full lecture theatre where the lasting legacy of Thomas Becket’s life and death was still very much felt.
PhD Candidate, University of Kent
Issue 5 of British Art Studies features a One Object study of the Gothic Revival Hereford Screen. The 8 tonne metalwork structure was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and manufactured by the firm of Francis Skidmore in 1862. The collection of essays fosters discussion of the screen’s medieval models as well as its Victorian genesis.
As a new and exclusively digital journal, British Art Studies’ virtual platform is celebrated through abundant interplay of text, image and audio-visual material. It brings together seven scholars who present technical and theoretical perspectives on a single object by means of ‘traditional’ essays and short films. This brief blog-post aims to draw attention to the medieval content of the study, notwithstanding the overall interest and coherence of all the constituent articles.
Essays in the discussion that focus on medieval material are:
The Hereford Screen: A Prehistory, by medievalist Matthew Reeve, guides the reader through a history of the medieval predecessors of the Hereford screen and places its production in the context of the Cathedral space and the architect’s work at Lichfield and Salisbury.
Jacqueline Jung’s contribution, a video essay entitled, The Medieval Choir Screen in Sacred Space, considers the sight-lines and sculptural relationships created by the strategically designed perforations and interior figural programmes of medieval screens and their host churches, focusing on two examples from 13th-century Italy and 15th-century Germany.
The oddly fragile, contentious choir screen, in its many historical manifestations, receives a colourful and polyphonic tribute in this One Object study. As a medieval art blog, links to the most relevant essays are given above but are, for best results, to be enjoyed with their Gothic Revival companions.
Call for papers: Illuminating Metalwork: Representations of Precious-Metal Objects in
Medieval Manuscript Illumination (Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies), Vatican Film Library, Saint Louis University, St. Louis MO, October 14 – 15, 2016
Deadline: May 1, 2016
The Saint Louis Conference on Manuscript Studies is the longest
running annual conference in North America devoted exclusively to
medieval and Renaissance manuscript studies. Organized by the Vatican
Film Library in conjunction with its journal, Manuscripta, the two-day
program each year offers a variety of sessions addressing the
production, distribution, reception, and transmission of pre-modern
manuscripts, including such topics as paleography, codicology,
illumination, textual transmission, library history, provenance,
cataloguing, and others.
Manuscript illuminations frequently place special emphasis on
precious-metal objects both sacred and secular, such as chalices,
reliquaries, crosses, tableware, and figural sculptures. Artists
typically rendered these objects using gold, silver, and metal alloys,
“medium-specific” materials that contrasted dynamically with the
surrounding color pigments. The visual characteristics of these
depicted metal objects — lustrous yet flat, almost
anti-representational — could dazzle, but perhaps also disorient, the
viewer: they catch the eye while creating a fertile tension between the
representation of an image and the presentation of a precious stuff,
between the pictorial and the material. A gold-leaf chalice signals its
real-world referent both iconically, via its shape, and indexically,
via its metal material, a doubled representation unavailable to the
remainder of the painted miniature. Such images can take on added
complexity if intended to represent known real-world objects.
This panel seeks to take inventory of how these precious-metal objects
were depicted and how they generated meaning. Possible themes include:
chronological/geographical specificities in the representation of
metalwork in manuscript illuminations; depictions of precious-metal
figural sculpture, including idols; technique (e.g. pigment vs. leaf);
the semiotics of metal on parchment; and whether we can speak of
“portraits” of particular objects and/or visual “inventories” of
particular collections. We welcome proposals that consider Western,
Byzantine, and/or Islamic manuscript illumination from the early
through the late Middle Ages.
2016 Guest Speaker: Madeline H. Caviness (Mary Richardson Professor
Emeritus, Tufts University), “Medieval German Law and the Jews: The
Submission: Please send (1) an abstract of no more than one page, and (2) a c.v.
with current contact information by Sunday, May 1, 2016 to both panel
organizers: Joseph Salvatore Ackley (email@example.com) and Shannon
L. Wearing (firstname.lastname@example.org). Selected papers are to be twenty
minutes in length.
Please note that conference registration fees, and travel and
accommodation expenses, are the responsibility of the panelists and/or
For more information, click here.