Tag Archives: Murray Seminar

Murray Seminars at Birkbeck, Autumn 2019

16 October, Lisa Monnas

Vestments and Textiles in Hans Memling’s ‘God with Singing and Music-making Angels 

Three large panels in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, painted by Hans Memling in the 1480’s, represent a heavenly scene framed by clouds, which part to reveal the central figure of God attended by sixteen singing and music-making angels. Thye once formed the top of the high altarpiece of the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria la Réal in Nájera, in Spain. In the central panel, God is depicted vested as priest and ruler, and the angels in this and in the flanking scenes wear clerical dress. The work has been interpreted as relating to the Good Friday liturgy and the Exaltation of the Cross, but since the panels originally formed the top of an altarpiece whose main subject was the Assumption of the Virgin, this is open to doubt. This paper will re-examine the vestments and textiles in the newly conserved panels, assessing their ‘realism’ and their contribution to the heavenly scene. It will also consider them in the wider context of some of Memling’s other works.

14 November, Jana Gajdosova

Sculpted Genealogies: The Effigies of Bohemian rulers in Prague Cathedral

With the death of Wenceslas III, the Přemyslid dynasty, which had ruled Bohemia for over four centuries, came to an end. The murder of the young king created chaos in the kingdom for several decades; however, after the marriage of Elizabeth of Přemyslid and John of Luxembourg and the subsequent birth of Charles IV (1316 – 1378), Bohemia reached the height of its political and cultural power in Europe. Charles IV saw himself as a bridge between two Bohemian dynasties – the Přemyslids of the past and the Luxembourgs of his envisioned future. This link was communicated with painted genealogies in at least three of Charles’ castles, and with staged genealogies across Prague. The fascination that Charles had with re-imagining and visualizing his role within the dynastic shift that occurred also found expression in the sculpted genealogies which are the subject of this paper—specifically the effigies of Přemyslids rulers commissioned by Charles IV for Prague Cathedral, which were made to communicate these ideas in sculpture and across real space.

5 December, Marie-Louise Lillywhite 

Blood is Thicker than Water: Artists, Friends and Family Alliances in Seventeenth-Century Venice

How did Venetian artists forge alliances to advance their interests and ensure the continuation of their workshops? Focusing on the painter Palma il Giovane, this paper explores his concerted efforts to continue his family name through strategic marriages, and safeguard his success through advantageous friendships. This study will demonstrate how these potentially positive relationships impacted artistic production in Venice for better, or indeed worse.

All this term’s 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.  We hope to see you there.

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Lecture: Murray Seminar at Birkbeck, London (27 June 18)

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. 

unnamedThe 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.

Murray Seminars at Birkbeck University, London (Summer Term 2018)

1 May, Cristina Guarnieri, University of Padua

The Stories of St. Lucy by Jacobello del Fiore, and Venetian folding reliquary altarpieces

The Stories of St. Lucy by Jacobello del Fiore are one of the masterpieces of Italian Late Gothic painting, but their function has been little understood. Re-evaluating prevailing theories about the panels’ purpose and display, this paper proposes that they formed a folding reliquary altarpiece, and considers other examples of this type which was once common in the Veneto.

 

5 June, Michelle O’Malley, the Warburg Institute

Botticelli: A conundrum of production

Two versions of Botticelli’s Virgin and Child with an Adoring Angel suggest raise fundamental questions about the specifics of authorship in the workshop and how we, as art historians, understand Renaissance artistic practice and construct attribution. This paper looks again at the technical evidence and the value of connoisseurship in tracking the development of the use of reproductive technique in late fifteenth-century Florence.

 

27 June, Alison Wright, UCL

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. This paper explores the slippery boundaries of when, where and for whom gold surfaces might be deemed excessive in relation to European art, especially Italian, of the fourteenth to early sixteenth centuries.

All this term’s 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.  We hope to see you there.

Murray Seminars on Medieval and Renaissance Art at Birkbeck, Spring Term 2017

0067_allegory_of_justice_-_injustice-144a8d98631489020fe18th Jan Zsofia Buda ‘The Lady with the book and the closed curtain: iconographical peculiarities in a 15th-century Jewish service book for Passover’ discusses some unusual illustrations in a South German Jewish service book for Passover, finding among other things some surprising similarities with Christian iconography

22 Feb Laura Jacobus ‘”Mea culpa?” Penitence, Enrico Scrovegni and me’ The Arena Chapel in Padua was until very recently thought to be commissioned as an act of restitution for usury, and its frescoes by Giotto as an expression of penitence on the part of the patron Enrico Scrovegni. That view has now been challenged by Laura Jacobus and others. But two of her recent discoveries have the potential to reinforce the established view and undermine her own. What happens when a researcher uncovers inconvenient truths, and what is to be done?

15th March Péter Bokody ‘The Politicization of Rape: Giotto’s Allegory of Injustice in Padua’ suggests that the allegory of Injustice in the Arena Chapel (Padua) by Giotto and the allegory of War in the Palazzo Pubblico (Siena) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti are key allegorical images of rape which can offer critical and politicized representations of sexual violence without sanitizing or eroticizing the act. Their unparalleled representations of sexual violence have implications for a general history of rape and the visual culture of late-medieval Italy.

All this term’s 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. We hope to see you there.

Murray Seminar: 5.00pm, 20th January 2016 Birkbeck

Zuleika Murat, ‘I have not seen more precious tombs and burials with greater pomp’: Guariento and the Tomb of Doge Giovanni Dolfin in Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice

The splendid tomb of Doge Giovanni Dolfin in the Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice once consisted of a hanging canopy and tomb by Andrea da San Felice and decorations by the famous painter Guariento.  Dr. Murat proposes a new hypothesis and a visual reconstruction of this important monument in one of Venice’s most significant locations.

All seminars this term are held at 5pm in the Keynes Library at Birkbeck’s School of Arts (Room 114, 43, Gordon Sq., London, WC1H OPD). A break at 5.50pm is followed by discussion and refreshments.