Tag Archives: Microarchitecture

CFP: ‘Scaling the Middle Ages: Size and Scale in Medieval Art’, Courtauld Institute of Art’s 24th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium, London, Friday 8 February 2019

image-1024x745The Courtauld Institute of Art’s 24th Annual Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium invites speakers to consider issues and opportunities encountered by medieval artists and viewers in relation to size and scale.

Deadline: 16 November 2018

From micro-architectural reliquaries and minute boxwood prayer beads to colossal sculpture and the built spaces of grand cathedrals and civic structures, size mattered in medieval art. Examples of simple one-upmanship between the castles and palaces of lords and kings and the churches and cathedrals of abbots and bishops are numerous. How big to make it was a principal concern for both patrons and makers of medieval art. Scale could be manipulated to dramatic effect in the manufacture of manuscripts and the relative disposition of elements within their decorative programmes. Divine proportions – of the Temple of Solomon or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – were evoked in the specific measurements and configuration of contemporary buildings and decisions were made based on concern with numbers and number sequences.

Inspired by the ‘Russian doll’ relationship between the Sainte Chapelle in Paris and its micro-architectural miniature in the form of a gilded reliquary in the Musée de Cluny, Scaling the Middle Ages seeks to explore a range of questions surrounding proportion, scale, size, and measurement in relation to medieval art and architecture. The Sainte Chapelle, built by the saint-king of France Louis IX to house the relics of Christ’s Passion, is itself often described as an over-sized reliquary turned inside-out. The Cluny reliquary – made to house relics of Saints Maxien, Lucien, and Julien held within the chapel – both complicates and compliments that comparison, at once shrinking the chapel back down to size through close architectural quotation of its form in miniature and pointing the viewer’s attention back to that same, larger space. The relationship between these two artefacts raises a host of questions, including:

Scale and making

How were ideas about size and scale communicated between patrons, architects, craftspeople, and artists? In an age without universal standardised units of measurement, how did craftsmen negotiate problems of scale and proportion?

How were the measurements of a medieval building determined? What techniques did architects, masons, and artists use to determine the scale of their work?

Scale and meaning

What effects were achieved and what responses evoked by the manipulation of scale, from the minute to the massive, in medieval art?

What was the role of proportion and scale in architectural ‘copies’ or quotations?

What representational problems were encountered by artists approaching out-sized subjects, such as giants?

How was scale manipulated in order to communicate hierarchy or relative importance in medieval art?

How did size and scale function in competition between patrons or communities in their artistic commissions and built environments?

Problems of scale

What, if anything, happened when something was the wrong size? When was something too big, or too small? And how were such problems solved by patrons and makers?

How does the disembodied viewing of medieval art through digital surrogates distort or assist in our perception of scale?

How can modern measuring techniques and digital technology enhance our understanding of medieval objects and buildings?

Applicants to the colloquium are encouraged to explore these and related issues from a diverse range of methodologies, analysing buildings and objects from across the Middle Ages (broadly understood in geographical and chronological terms). The Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium offers an opportunity for research students at all levels from universities across the UK and abroad to present, discuss and promote their research.

To apply, please send a proposal of up to 250 words for a 20-minute paper, together with a CV, to teresa.lane@courtauld.ac.uk and oliver.mitchell@courtauld.ac.uk no later than 16 November 2018.

Organised by Oliver Mitchell and Teresa Lane (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

CFP: Society of Architectural Historians (Glasgow, June 2017)

Society of Architectural Historians
2017 Annual International Conference
June 7-11 | Glasgow, Scotland


Deadline: June 6, 2016

Conference Chair: Sandy Isenstadt, SAH 1st Vice President-elect, University of Delaware

The Society of Architectural Historians is now accepting abstracts for its 70th Annual International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, June 7–11. Please submit an abstract no later than June 6, 2016, to one of the 32 thematic sessions, the Graduate Student Lightning Talks or the open sessions. The thematic sessions have been selected to cover topics across all time periods and architectural styles. SAH encourages submissions from architectural, landscape, and urban historians; museum curators; preservationists; independent scholars; architects; and members of SAH chapters and partner organizations.

Thematic sessions and Graduate Student Lightning Talks are listed below. Please note that those submitting papers for the Graduate Student Lightning Talks must be graduate students at the time the talk is being delivered (June 7–11, 2017). Open sessions are available for those whose research does not match any of the themed sessions. Instructions and deadlines for submitting to themed sessions and open sessions are the same.

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Abstracts must be under 300 words.
  2. The title cannot exceed 65 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
  3. Abstracts and titles must follow the Chicago Manual of Style.
  4. Only one abstract per conference by author or co-author may be submitted.
  5. A maximum of two (2) authors per abstract will be accepted.

Abstracts are to be submitted online using the link below.


Abstracts should define the subject and summarize the argument to be presented in the proposed paper. The content of that paper should be the product of well-documented original research that is primarily analytical and interpretive, rather than descriptive in nature. Papers cannot have been previously published or presented in public except to a small, local audience (under 100 people). All abstracts will be held in confidence during the review and selection process, and only the session chair and general chair will have access to them.

All session chairs have the prerogative to recommend changes to the abstract in order to ensure it addresses the session theme, and to suggest editorial revisions to a paper in order to make it satisfy session guidelines. It is the responsibility of the session chairs to inform speakers of those guidelines, as well as of the general expectations for participation in the session and the annual conference. Session chairs reserve the right to withhold a paper from the program if the author has not complied with those guidelines.

Please Note: Each speaker is expected to fund his or her own travel and expenses to Glasgow, Scotland. SAH has a limited number of partial conference fellowships for which speakers may apply. However, SAH’s funding is not sufficient to support the expenses of all speakers. Each speaker and session chair must register and establish membership in SAH for the 2017 conference by August 31, 2016, and are required to pay the non-refundable conference registration fee to show their commitment.


June 6, 2016 Deadline for submitting abstracts
July 15, 2016 Session chairs notify all persons submitting abstracts of the acceptance or rejection of their proposals
August 1, 2016 Annual conference fellowship applications open
August 31, 2016 Deadline for speaker and session chair registration (non-refundable) and membership in SAH
September 7, 2016 Deadline for conference fellowship applications
January 9, 2017 Speakers submit complete drafts of papers to session chairs
February 10, 2017 Session chairs return papers with comments to speakers
April 3, 2017 Speakers complete any revisions and distribute copies of their paper to the session chair and the other session speakers

Some sessions of possible interest to our readers:

Architectural Ghosts
This session explores the concept of the ghostly in architecture. While the “ghost” in architecture might refer to actual haunted places, it also refers to the unfinished, the remnant, the referenced, the remembered, and the ruined. How, when, and where do we find and interpret the ghostly in architecture? Whether it be the flicker of spatial remembrance like a passing sense of cold, the palimpsest of a former window on a solid brick wall, or a crumbling foundation overgrown in the woods—spirits, souls, traces, and the spaces in between abound in our experience of, and critical approaches to, architecture and its histories. The ghostly can complicate ideas about originality, temporality, authenticity, and the sacred. It may imply a process of design that could linger in uncanny twilight between the conscious and the unconscious. Moreover, might architectural ghostliness lure us towards nostalgia, utopia, and imagined histories? Architects haunted by various histories may be caught up in the ghostly too: the spectres of lost opportunities or ruined spaces, and, significantly, the persistent power of the past. The concept of the architectural phantom could equally imply spaces of the ephemeral—opening up possibilities of the architectural image in visual culture or performative practices. What can writers—from ancient dramas to gothic tales to modern critical theory—offer to the study of the ghostly in design? We are interested in papers that explore any aspect of the architectural ghost: the unfinished project, the troubled biography, the voices of the memorialized in monuments or crypts, the fragment and its imagined completion, or any case study or theoretical paradigm in which architectural apparitions, residues, shadows or wraiths might be found.

Session Chairs: Karen Koehler, Hampshire College, and Ayla Lepine, University of Essex

Medieval Vernacular Architecture
Scholarly interest in vernacular architecture has gained increased traction in the past few decades. As the editors of the 2005 volume Vernacular Architecture in the Twenty-First Century noted, vernacular architecture no longer is understood solely as domestic architecture, rural architecture, or architecture built by romanticized non-professionals—in other words a product counterpoint to “polite” building—but as a cultural process specific to a location, whether rural or urban, or to a people that reveals how builders within that group engage with ecological, technological, and cultural variables. In the same vein, in his 2010 book English Houses: 1300–1800, the archaeologist Matthew Johnson argued that vernacular architecture is an anthropological style, one in which a people, their histories, and priorities can be read through the building form.  Much work on vernacular architecture focuses on building from the twentieth century through the present..

This session seeks papers that address the study of buildings through the lens of the vernacular from the Middle Ages, defined roughly as the fifth through fifteenth centuries. Subjects are welcome from any part of the world and may include studies of domestic spaces, but in the aim of expanding the definition(s) of vernacular architecture, in particular so that its study can engage with other disciplines, the session encourages papers with anthropologic understandings of the vernacular that examine relationships, specific to an area or group, between builders, patrons, and their surrounding environments that contributed to cultural continuity. As such, this session is interested particularly in papers that address construction processes, lived experience, workshop practices, material and environmental analyses, and the impact of regional integration on local building within specific cultural, social, and historical environments, whether urban or rural, “polite” or domestic. In addition, papers that employ or discuss new technologies for analyzing medieval vernacular buildings are welcome.

Session Chair: Alexander Harper, Princeton University

Questions of Scale: Micro-architecture in the Global Middle Ages
This session seeks to expand worldwide a productive discourse that has engaged historians of Gothic architecture for at least forty years: the interplay of design ideas across the macro- and micro-architectural realms. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries small-scale shrines and sacrament houses looked increasingly like monumental Gothic churches with pointed arches and flying buttresses. Soon, choir stalls and tabernacles became design laboratories that germinated formal ideas for full-sized structures arrayed with intricate niches or encrusted with delicate tracery. Moreover, recent scholarship by Sarah Guérin, Achim Timmermann, and Paul Binski has shown this interplay of forms provided more than formal ideas; smaller works of art, like ivory diptychs and pulpit canopies, could deploy the architectural features of churches and castles to project spiritual meanings.

This conversation should not be limited to medieval Europe. Micro-architecture featured in many design traditions and material cultures around the world during these years. At small scale, canopies with amalakas often sheltered sculptures of Hindu gods in the same manner as the gables and finials crowned statues of the Virgin and Child. Somewhat larger Chinese sutra cabinets for storing Buddhist scriptures were often built as octagonal pavilions, a form specified by the Song Dynasty text Yingzao fashi. They pre-date the Gothic sacrament houses mentioned above and parallel them in purpose and sophistication. At the monumental level, Goethe’s delight in the “great harmonious masses [of Strasbourg Cathedral], quickened into numberless parts” could equally apply to the temples of Khajuraho, where lofty sikharas rise as recursive compositions of miniaturized towers, or urushringas. In Islamic architecture muqarnas serve an opposite function; the tiny half-dome ornaments dematerialize their larger vaults. This session invites papers that address one or more case studies of micro-architecture from 300–1600 CE at any scale, from anywhere in the world, and in any media.

Session Chair: Jeffrey A. K. Miller, University of Cambridge

Rethinking Medieval Rome: Architecture and Urbanism

This session seeks to assess the impact of recent methodological developments on the study of the architecture and urban forms of the city of Rome from the end of the Gothic War (ca. 554) to the re-establishment of the papacy under Pope Martin V (ca. 1420). In the past decade the medieval humanities have opened up new perspectives on the past by focusing on questions of materiality, agency, temporality, spatiality, cross-cultural interaction, and ecocriticism. These new approaches, many of which are informed by interdisciplinary research and contemporary cultural interests in the natural and built world, are fundamentally reshaping how we conceive of and study medieval architecture and urbanism. This panel will examine how new methodologies and theoretically informed approaches are changing our understanding of the architecture of medieval Rome. The city of Rome has long occupied a particular place in scholarly narratives as the seat of the papacy, as a destination for pilgrims, and as a mythical symbol of past grandeur and decline. Historians of Rome’s medieval architecture and urban fabric have traditionally focused on such issues as the distinctively retrospective character of the city’s basilicas, the relationship between architecture and liturgy, the reuse of ancient materials, the topographical distinctions between the city’s inhabited and uninhabited regions, or the polemical character of Rome’s baronial tower houses. This session inquires into the current status of medieval Rome, both within the field of architectural history and in relation to the broader discourses of the medieval humanities. We invite contributions from architects, architectural historians, and scholars in allied fields whose work charts new avenues for rethinking the history of medieval Rome’s built environment through novel questions, through innovative methodological and technological approaches, by presenting new evidence, or by means of critical revisions of existing scholarly narratives.

Session Chairs: Marius B. Hauknes, Johns Hopkins University, and Alison Locke Perchuk, California State University Channel Islands

British Museum Handling Session: Micro-architecture

In February 2015 Lloyd de Beer and Naomi Speakman kindly permitted Courtauld staff and students to examine micro-architectural objects in the British Museum.

We saw two wonderful ivories with fairly generic Gothic baldachins, along with this extraordinary 10c (?) ivory cylinder with Passion narratives. This 12c censer cover is an especially wonderful example of dozens of similar objects, and later metalwork objects included this 15c Swiss shrine and this early 14c casket with French and English heraldry. Then there was a whole group of seals, including this from Langdon Priory, this remarkable 1322 seal impression from Cottingham Abbey, and this 13c double-sided seal matrix from Scotland. Finally we looked at this very curious lead object showing the Annunciation in an  elaborate architectural setting:


Amongst others, we asked the following questions in relation to these objects:

1) does the object relate to ‘real’ buildings (if so, are these necessarily contemporary, and has this assumption been used to date the object?)
2) Does the architecture carry any specific symbolic/iconographic/representational meaning?
3) Is there evidence for setting out of the architecture (compass points, lines etc), which might reveal the setting out process (and, potentially, the role of drawing)
4) Is scale especially relevant to the object?
5) Might the object feasibly transmit architectural designs (and was it produced in quantity?)?
6) Does the object shed light on relations between masons/metalworkers etc?

In preparation for the session we held a Reading Group focused on the following texts:

  • Achim Timmerman, ‘Multum in parvo: Microarchitecture in the Medieval West, c. 800-1550’, In: Richard Etlin, ed, The Cambridge History of Religious Architecture of the World (forthcoming)
  • Paul Binski, Gothic Wonder. Art, Artifice and the Decorated Style, 1290-1350 (Yale UP, 2014), 121-60.
  • Sarah M. Guérin, ‘Meaningful Spectacles: Gothic Ivories Staging the Divine’, The Art Bulletin, 95: 1, 53-77.
  • François Bucher, ‘Micro-Architecture As the ‘Idea’ of Gothic Theory and Style’, Gesta, 15: 1-2, 71-89.

Conference review: Microarchitecture and Miniaturized Representation of Buildings (INHA, Paris 8-10 Dec 2014)

Search for “microarchitecture conference” on Google, and you will mostly be returned results concerning gatherings of computer programmers. This would doubtless make the concept of a conference on medieval microarchitecture entertaining to many. Even ignoring this parallel nomenclature, the sort of microarchitecture art historians are interested in is not an easy concept to explain, and perhaps one of the primary goals of the conference held at the Institut Nationale d’Historie d’Art in Paris was to actually work out what we had all come together for. I doubt wasn’t the only one who wondered whether my own material actually qualified.

Professor Timmermann with his pocket cathedral

Professor Timmermann with his pocket cathedral

Achim Timmermann (University of Michigan), a man who could indeed be dubbed “Mr. Microarchitecture”, gave an exciting overview of the concept in Early, High and Late Middle Ages, so epic in its scope of fantastic structures that the screen ought to have expanded into Imax proportions. His account demonstrated how microarchitecture transformed from the idea of a “pocket cathedral” into such an isolated ontological sphere that it crossed into convolute monstrosity with its self-mimesis by the late fifteenth century. An alternative and quite staggeringly rich oration, based on his new book Gothic Wonder, was given by Paul Binski among the medieval statuary in the ancient Roman baths of the Museé de Cluny. For Paul, the medieval intellectual aesthetic condensed great and small, magnificent and minificent, into an idea characterised by a single playfulness of embellishing surface with ornament. A more formal account, jointly delivered by Javier ibàñez Fernandez (Universidad de Zaragozza) and Arturo Zaragozá Catalán (Universidad de Valencia), introduced a 7-part taxonomy of microarchitecture in Spain: from functional maquettes to decorative miniaturisation of large-scale forms.

Sebastian Fitzner and some extraordinary medieval tile ovens

Sebastian Fitzner and some extraordinary medieval tile ovens

In this framework of ideas of categorisation, many new genres of object were introduced to the conference room. The present writer, of course, had packed a selection of sedilia, which by now I am certain always prove novel to continental audiences. But we also had stone tile ovens like traceried office blocks from Sebastian Fitzner (LudwigMaximilians-Universität München), Orthodox chivots for Eucharist reservation that mimic the forms of their parent building from Anita Paolicchi (Università di Pisa) and Renaissance elevation drawings that were originally intended to be folded and constructed into paper models from Giovanni Santucci (Università di Pisa).
These models are sort of things we would love to have more evidence for in the Middle Ages to explain the transmission of ideas, but alas, even presentation drawings and plans are difficult to come by. The miniaturisation of large forms into the decorative or representational was covered in papers by Sabine Berger (Sorbonne) on votive churches in the hands of donor statues and Peter Kurmann (ETH, Zurich) on relationship of tabernacle canopies to the geometry and form of great chevets.

Matthew Sillence with cardinals' seals

Matthew Sillence with cardinals’ seals


Final panel with Alexander Collins, Julian Gardner (chair), Sophie Cloart-Pawlak and Sarah Guérin

There was also consideration of the desirability of microarchitecture and its meaning beyond the artists’ play with novel forms. Matt Ethan Kalaver’s (University of Toronto) account of the earliest transmission of classical forms into the Netherlands by the high nobility on their tombs was reflected in the earlier centuries considered by Julian Gardner (University of Warwick) and Matthew Sillence (University of East Anglia). Their papers both focused on how influential medieval prelates and cardinals were for spreading new forms on their seals, which, quite thankfully, was a big part of my paper where also bishops seem the first to stick pointy gables over sedilia in chantry chapels they have endowed.
Perhaps one drawback about the novelty of much of the material is that it is only in retrospect to draw many of these parallels across sessions. One panel however that held together very well that at the end of the final day, between Sophie Cloart-Pawlak (IRHiS, Lille), Alexander Collins (University of Edinburgh) and Sarah Guérin (University of Montréal) who all explored the function and symbolism of microarchitecture on the spectator.
This was my first international conference, and it was a highly convivial experience with high-quality papers throughout. There was a healthy mix of postgraduates, early career researchers, established scholars and some legendary old hands. It is planned that the proceedings will be published, and therefore it should provide a much-needed general framework for the minificent microcosm of the fiddliest bits of the decorative arts.

The international conference Micro-architecture et figures du bâti au Moyen-Âge: l’échelle à l’épreuve de la matière was at the Institut Nationale d’Historie d’Art from the 8-10 Dec 2015. Here is our original post of the call for papers, the full programme and the INHA’s official page.

We also had a bit of fun tweeting the conference because we’re so Web 3.0.

Conference: Microarchitecture and Miniaturized Representation of Buildings (INHA, Paris 8-10 Dec 2014)

The font enclosure c.1330 in Luton (Bedfordshire)

The font enclosure c.1330 in Luton (Bedfordshire)

Micro-architecture et figures du bâti au Moyen-Âge : l’échelle à l’épreuve de la matière

Institute national d’historie de l’art

8 – 10 December 2014
Auditorium de la Galerie Colbert
6 rue des Petits-Champs ou 2, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
Free entry

This conference organized by the National Institute of Art History, University of Nantes and the National Archives has the ambition to address issues related to the miniature representation of the built environment in a different perspective from that which has gone before. The phenomenon of “architecturation in which the proliferation of architectural vocabulary in all forms of art continues to intrigue historians of the Middle Ages. But this can only be truly understood if one takes into account the changes that scaling affects the work of artisans, and the reception of their works.


Lundi 8 décembre
13h30     Accueil


14h00 – 15h30


Présidence: Paul Binski

Julian Gardner (University of Warwick), Who were the microarchitects?          


Javier Ibàñez Fernandez (Universidad de Zaragozza) et Arturo Zaragozá Catalán (Universidad de Valencia), Entre imaginación y realidad. Microarchitecturas y architecturas en el mundo Ibérico entre los siglos XV y XVI

15h00-15h30          discussion


15h30 – 17h00

James Alexander Cameron (The Courtauld Institute of Art, London), Sedilia in English churches: micro-architectural innovation in function and form


Sabine Berger (Paris-Sorbonne), Edifices minia-turisés et figures de bienfaiteurs à la période médiévale: iconologie de la maquette d’architecture




au Musée de Moyen Age-Termes de Cluny,

conférence plénière de Paul Binski (sur réservation: microarchitecture@inha.fr)

Mardi 9 décembre


8h30     Accueil


9h00 – 10h30


Présidence: Isabelle Marchesin

Giovanni Santucci (Università di Pisa), Archi-tectural paper models in Early Modern Italy


Peter Kurmann (ETH, Zurich), Les modèles miniaturisés et leur rôle de transfert d’idées au XIIIe siècle.

10h-10h30       discussion et café


10h30 – 12h30

Circulations et transferts

Présidence: Julian Gardner

Felipe Serrano Estrella (Universidad de Jaén), Circulation of Classicist Models between Spain and Italy through the “Eucharistic Microarchitecture”


Farah Makki (EHESS, Paris), Figures scripturales de la microarchitecture au palais de l’Alhambra (XIVe siècle): préceptes d’une architecture relationnelle en Islam médiéval

12h-12h30       discussion



12h30-14h00     Déjeuner



Orfèvrerie et mobilier

Présidence: Élisabeth Taburet-Delahaye

Sebastian Fitzner (Ludwig-Maximilians-Uni-versität München), Tile stoves as buildings and symbolic forms. Remarks on a largerly unexplorated field of microarchitectures in late medieval times


Anita Paolicchi (Università di Pisa), Examples of miniaturized architecture: the chivots at the time of Constantin Brâncoveanu


15h00-15h30          discussion

15h30 – 18h Dany Sandron (Paris-Sorbonne), La châsse de Saint-Marcel et l’architecture de Notre-Dame de Paris: renvoi et emprunts    


Frédéric Tixier (Université de Lorraine), Dextérité de l’orfèvre, symbolisme de la forme: remarques sur quelques crosses “architecturées” médiévales (XIIIe-XVIe siècle)


Matthew James Sillence (University of East Anglia, Norwich), Compositions and Associations of Architectural Frameworks on Cardinals’ Seals 1378-1533

17h30-18h00          discussion générale



Mercredi 10 décembre


9h00 – 10h30


Présidence: Peter Kurmann

Anne-Orange Poilpré (Paris I, Panthéon-Sor-bonne), Bâtir et figurer la royauté chrétienne au IXe siècle: les trône architecturés des manuscrits de Charles le Chauve


Matt Ethan Kavaler (University of Toronto), Microarchitecture as the Paradigme of Antique Architecture in the Low Countries: 1515-1540

10h-10h30       discussion et café


10h30 – 12h30


Présidence: Roland Recht

Achim Timmermann (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor), City, Cathedral, scopic labyrinth: scalar travels in medieval microarchitecture


Renzo Chiovelli (Università La Sapienza, Roma), Pifferi Sandra (Architecte), Materials, space and time in the microarchitecture of the Holy Sepulchre

12h-12h30       discussion

12h30-14h00     Déjeuner




Présidence: Danielle Gaborit-Chopin

Sophie Cloart-Pawlak (IRHiS, Lille), Identifica-tion, hiérarchisation et sacralisation des espaces au seuil de l’église. Remarques sur le rôle des décors d’architecture à travers l’exemple de l’ornementation des portails gothique


Alexander Collins (University of Edinburgh), Miniaturising Mary: The Microarchitecture of Embodiment in the Sherborne Missal (British Library, MS. Add. 74236)


Sarah Guérin (University of Montréal), Micro-architecture and memory: a place of devotion

16h30-17h00          discussion générale et conclusions

Official site: http://www.inha.fr/fr/agenda/parcourir-par-annee/en-2014/decembre-2014/micro-architecture-et-figures-du-bati-au-moyen-age.html


Call for Papers: Microarchitecture and Miniaturized Representation of Buildings (Paris 2014)

Call for Papers:
Microarchitecture and Miniaturized Representations of Buildings: Different Scales for Different Materials? 
Paris, Institut national d’histoire de l’art, 8-10 December 2014
Deadline: May 1, 2014

reimsFor more than forty years, since the publication of François Bucher’s work, historians and art historians have taken an interest in miniaturized representations of architecture. These microarchitectures, staged in actual buildings and incorporated into metalwork, have been
at the center of numerous noteworthy studies, which have resulted in the creation of reliable typologies and an accepted chronology for the architectural syntax of these miniature buildings. For example, Peter Kurmann highlighted the 1240s as a turning point in the Île-de-France, noting the importance of the façades of Notre-Dame’s transept for a contemporary architectural syntax that began to spread in microarchitecture constructions. For her part, Marie-Thérèse Gousset demonstrated how the miniaturized architectural decoration of Romanesque censers referred to heavenly Jerusalem, thus bearing symbolic value and religious significance. Following the work of
Richard Krautheimer, several studies of more recent periods have begun to draw the outlines of what can be called an architectural iconology. This diversity of issues and interests were not only raised during a major symposium in Nuremberg in 2005, but also addressed by recent and
current PhD dissertations and several established researchers, such as Achim Timmermann and Ethan Matt Kavaler.

Most recently, Paul Binski has begun to criticize Bucher’s definition of microarchitecture, instead focusing on associations with monumental architecture (whether ancient, contemporary, or imagined). This symposium aims to engage with this shifting of the field, focusing on the examination of new corpuses of material and, therefore, new issues. For example, the production of seals will be highlighted, since they constitute a considerable body of objects that art historians have generally disregarded, ignoring their visual language that often includes architecture and sheltered figures. The shifting of scale involved in production of microarchitectural artifacts in metal, glass, stone, wood or ivory also constitutes an important point of investigation, these technical challenges belonging to Alfred Gell’s notion of “technologies of enchantment.” To understand these virtuoso pieces of microarchitecture, one should not only consider their relationship to monumental syntax, but also realize the part they
played as a captatio benevolentiae meant to capture and bewitch the spectator with their minifiscence.

The symposium, co-organized by the Institut national d’histoire de l’art, the Université de Nantes, the Institut Universitaire de France, and the Archives nationales, aims to deal with issues related to the representation of miniaturized architecture through new approaches and
perspectives. Art historians have already underlined the phenomenon of “architecturation,” wherein architectural vocabulary spread and proliferated during the Middle Ages in different artistic media. This phenomenon, however, can only be fully understood if we take into
account the transformations that changes in scale forced on production and reception of these artifacts.

Proposals should deal directly with the questions raised by the representation of architecture. While they need to interrogate the relevance of the concept of microarchitecture, equally important is a focus on the practical consequences of miniaturization, and how the choice of materials could affect this process. Papers should take this opportunity to raise questions about the spatiality of small-scale objects and the status of figures in these spaces. By expanding the
field beyond the types of artistic production the discipline usually deals with, we hope to ameliorate our understanding of how medieval craftsmen and artists succeeded in building spatial coherence for these miniature buildings. It is our hope that these observations could lead to a reevaluation of how forms and significations were transferred from actual monumental buildings to small-scale constructions, a series of transmissions that could have consequences for spiritual and symbolic meaning. By considering microarchitecturized artifacts, this symposium aims to understand the miniaturization process itself, its constraints and its consequences.

Papers proposals must not exceed 3.000 characters and should be sent by
May 1st, 2014 with a short CV (less than 2 pages) to:

Ambre Vilain de Bruyne (IRHIS et INHA)

Jean-Marie Guillouët (université de Nantes et IUF)

Clément Blanc-Riehl (Archives nationales)