Tag Archives: Sculpture

CfP: New Directions in the Study of Medieval Sculpture, Leeds, 16-17 Mar 2018

Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, March 16 – 17, 2018
Deadline: Sep 30, 2017

New Directions in the Study of Medieval Sculpture

Focusing on the materiality of medieval sculpture has proven crucial to
its study and has expanded our historical understanding of sculpture
itself. Whether monumental relief sculpture in stone, wooden sculptures
in the round, sculpted altarpieces, ivory plaques or enamelled
reliquaries, the possibilities for research on medieval sculpture now
extend far beyond the established canon.

Contemporary medieval sculpture studies have opened the field to
comparative and inclusive research that embraces the social,
performative, gendered and ritual uses of medieval sculpture. These
developments have inspired the organisers of the conference New
Directions in the Study of Medieval Sculpture to reflect on the field
and ask how do we investigate medieval sculpture today and what might
come ‘after’ materiality?

This two-day conference seeks to assess and critique the state of the
field on medieval sculpture and to investigate new directions,
approaches and technologies for research. A consideration of the state
of the field could be approached through, but is not limited to, the
following topics:

    Processes and techniques of medieval sculpture
    The sensory experience of medieval sculpture
    The ephemeral and intangible aspects of medieval sculpture
    Medieval sculpture, photography and digital reproduction
    Archives, casts and reconstructing medieval sculpture
    Sculpture and medievalism
    Historiography of medieval sculpture studies
    Exhibition histories of medieval sculpture

This conference is hosted by the Henry Moore Institute, a centre for
the study of sculpture, and is convened by Dr Elisa Foster, 2016-18
Henry Moore Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow.

Accommodation and reasonable travel expenses within the UK will be
reimbursed.

Paper proposals should be sent via email to Dr Elisa Foster:
elisa.foster@henry-moore.org by 30 September 2017.

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

Image 2, Sens Chasuble

Chasuble in Sens Cathedral treasury thought to have been worn by Thomas Becket and venerated as a contact relic

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.

Image 1, San Miguel altar

Altar frontal from the church of San Miguel in Almazán, showing Becket’s martyrdom

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.

Image 4, Cathedral Archives

Examining the Professions of Obedience in the Canterbury Cathedral Archives

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.

Image 7, Sudbury's tomb

Kneeling at the resonant prayer niches in Archbishop Sudbury’s tomb, Canterbury Cathedral

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.

Sophie Kelly

PhD Candidate, University of Kent

 

Gothic Revival, Medieval Art & the Hereford Screen

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.

2006AR1160_hereford_screen_cathedral_photo_custom_290x332_06200711

The Hereford Screen in Hereford Cathedral, view from North Transept, 19th century. (Image from the V&A website)

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.

The One Object discussion is introduced by Ayla Lepine, in an essay entitled Resurrection, Re-Imagination, Reconstruction:
New Viewpoints on the Hereford Screen.

 

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.

Books roundup: New Publications in Art

magdeburger-reiter-255x330GABRIELE KOSTER, UTA SIEBRECHT. Der Magdeburger Reiter, Schnell & Steiner, 2017, 368 p.
ISBN: 978-3795432027

Der Band versammelt Beiträge namhafter Experten aus den Bereichen Restaurierung, Kunstgeschichte, Geschichte und Rechtsgeschichte, die den aktuellen Forschungsstand zum Magdeburger Reiter als bedeutende Skulptur der mittelalterlichen Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven präsentieren.

Der Magdeburger Reiter, entstanden um 1240, gilt als das älteste erhaltene freiplastische Reiterstandbild nördlich der Alpen seit dem Ausgang der Antike und ist damit eine der bedeutendsten Skulpturen der mittelalterlichen Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte Europas. Im November 2015 fand aus Anlass der vollendeten Restaurierung des Kunstwerkes im Kulturhistorischen Museum Magdeburg eine interdisziplinäre Tagung zum Magdeburger Reiter statt.
Der dritte Band der Schriftenreihe des Zentrums für Mittelalterausstellungen widmet sich dem Reiterstandbild als mittelalterliches Kunstwerk, städtisches Wahrzeichen und europäisches Erbe. Erstmals liegt damit eine umfassende Publikation zum Magdeburger Reiter vor. Sie präsentiert fächerübergreifend die wissenschaftlichen Beiträge der Tagung, den Untersuchungs- und Restaurierungsbericht sowie eine umfangreiche Fotodokumentation der bedeutenden Skulpturengruppe.

 

JOSÉ ORFILA. Regards panoramiques sur le monde médiéval et Notre Dame de Reims, Godefroy de Bouillon, 2016, 520 p.JOSÉ ORFILA. Regards panoramiques sur le monde médiéval et Notre Dame de Reims, Godefroy de Bouillon, 2016, 520 p.
ISBN: 978-2841913282

24 figures (en couleurs) et 229 photos (dont14 en couleurs) illustrent ce livre à la gloire de l’architecture du monde médiéval. Depuis plus d’un demi-siècle, la pression toujours renouvelée des esthétiques avant-gardistes a modifié notre vision des choses. Nous avons découvert les mérites des arts les plus lointains et les plus anciens que l’on appelait jadis primitifs et qu’il faut honorer désormais du nom de “premiers”, ce qui les pare d’emblée des plus rares vertus. On est même allé jusqu’à les estimer “plus essentiels”. Rien d’étonnant donc que le gothique, celui des 12eme et 13eme siècles trop élaboré, trop conscient de soi et trop éloigné des pulsions basiques ne soit plus en faveur. De nos jours on se doit d’accorder plus de valeur aux masques africains, aux totems amérindiens et aux statues de l’Ile de Pâques qu’à la Ste Chapelle. Et l’évolution politico-culturelle réactivant les voluptueux mirages de l’Orient qui émoustillaient les mâles romantiques, le Français moyen commence à se sentir plus en phase avec le Tajmahal qu’avec la cathédrale de Reims. Car notre époque est avide de “retours aux sources” à condition que ce soient celles des autres et vénère toutes les traditions sous réserve que ce ne soient pas les nôtres. Ce livre rappelle la richesse de notre civilisation mise à l’écart par les bien-pensants.

 

art-nature-237x330NICOLE R. MYERS (ed.). Art and Nature in the Middle Ages, Yale University Press, 2017, 136 p.
ISBN: 978-0300227055

This splendidly illustrated book explores the universal and multifaceted theme of nature as manifested in Western European art of the Middle Ages. Fascinating essays consider the concept in the context of medieval philosophy, theology, and poetry. The masterpieces highlighted here,  from the distinguished collection of the Musée de Cluny, span the 12th through the 16th centuries and include an impressive array of objects destined for both religious and secular purposes—from exquisite stained glass and carved capitals to spectacular enameled jewelry, illuminated manuscripts, and woven tapestries. Art and Nature in the Middle Ages provides an essential understanding of the symbolism and significance of motifs taken from the natural world, as well as the technical mastery of the medieval artisans who produced these remarkable objects.
Nicole R. Myers is the Lillian and James H. Clark Curator of European Painting and Sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Art.

CONF: Riemenschneider In Situ (Rothenburg/Wuerzburg, 21-24 Jun 17)

220px-Tilman_Riemenschneider_Barbara-1Rothenburg and Würzburg, 21. – 24.06.2017

Conference Program

In 1980, Michael Baxandall introduced the sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider and his artistic milieu to English-speaking art historians — specialists and non-experts alike — with his book The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany. This publication appeared just a year prior to the first major exhibition of Riemenschneider’s early works in Würzburg’s Mainfränkisches Museum (1981). In the wake of Baxandall’s contribution, several major exhibitions, including those in Washington, Nuremberg, and Würzburg, have been dedicated to the sculptor vis-a-vis his contemporaries in southern Germany. These exhibitions and accompanying volumes have promoted inquiry into Riemenschneider’s commissions, his workshop practice, and the contemporary artistic climate.  But they have also led the sculptor’s works that survive in situ—and thus too large, heavy, or fragile to travel—to receive comparatively less scholarly attention. The Riemenschneider in Situ conferen e aims to redress this gap in art historical scholarship not only by examining the in situ artworks themselves but also the physical and discursive spaces in which they were installed.

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CRSBI – Annual lecture – Tuesday 25th April 2017 – 5.30pm

Ouroboros, single and in pairs at Kilpeck, England

Ouroboros, single and in pairs at Kilpeck, England

North and South of the Loire: The Culture of Copying and the Rebirth of Sculpture
by Professor Deborah Kahn
Tuesday 25th April 2017 at 5.30pm at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London.
 
Abstract
 
From his thesis of 1950 on “Regional Schools of English Sculpture” to his later writings, Professor George Zarnecki, deputy director of the Courtauld Institute of Art from 1961 – 74, showed himself to be a master of visual comparison.  In one of his last articles (written in 1992), he surveyed the iconographic kinship between the earliest Romanesque sculptures at Saint-Benoit-sur-Loîre, Bayeux and Toulouse.  These far-flung similarities revealed a culture of copying that led to what may be regarded as a rebirth of architectural sculpture in these regions.  The article still serves as the basis for further exploration of the visual relationships between the earliest monumental architectural sculpture and the role of copybooks and loose sketches in the transmission of motifs and iconography.   George speculated that the likely source of all these relationships was the monastery and library at Saint-Benoit-sur-Loîre — as indeed has turned out to be the case.   Moreover, the emergent taste for monumental architectural sculpture on the great new ashlar buildings of the first half of the 11th century appears to reflect not only the preoccupations of the abbot of Saint-Benoit, Gauzlin (1004-1030), but also those of his half brother Robert II (972-1031), whose foundations at Saint-Germain-des-Prés and Saint-Aignan at Orléans were richly carved in the 1020s as well.   The rebirth of monumental architectural sculpture in the early eleventh century thus turns out to have been given impetus by the ascendant Capetian dynasty.  These connections amplify the links set forth by George and confirm not only his extraordinary ability to trace previously unnoticed formal lineages but also his role in laying the ground for future studies in the field of Romanesque art.
Invitation is attached.  Seating is unreserved and booking is not necessary but please RSVP to this e-mail address: crsbiconnect@gmail.com

CFP: Final Conference of the BMBF Project “Portals as Places of Transformation” Bamberg, January 11 – 14, 2018

dp300044CFP: Final Conference of the BMBF Project “Portals as Places of Transformation” Bamberg, January 11 – 14, 2018
Deadline: 15 June 2017.

The medieval church portal is in many respects a place of
transformation. At the threshold of a church, various spheres converge
and meet: secular – ecclesiastic, corporeal – spiritual, earthly –
divine. Iconography and formal design offer ample evidence of this
unique situation. At the same time, church portals themselves are
objects of change: their appearances are constantly shifting due to
modification, chromatic reworking and restorative endeavours. After
all, modernism declared portals works of art, and this change of status
was accompanied by a further metamorphosis: The medieval portal became
an aesthetic object and thereby an exhibit with alternative forms of
presentation.

The international final conference of the BMBF Project “Portals as
Places of Transformation” (University of Bamberg, Chair in Medieval Art
History, Professorship in Building Preservation Sciences, Professorship
in Building History and Building Archaeology) will provide various
conference sections focusing on central issues of continuity and change
as they pertain to medieval portals:

Section 1: Conceptual design of medieval portals. The interplay of
architecture and sculpture (building design, design methods,
proportions, room arrangement)

Section 2: Construction of medieval portals. Structural analyses for
the documentation of transformation processes (footing, interlinking of
constructive units, masonry technique, types of stone, structural
analysis, construction process)

Section 3: Iconographic programmes. The portal as a place of spiritual
transformation in the Middle Ages (Iconography, text and image,
eschatological themes, cosmos/cardinal directions)

Section 4: Medieval bronze and wood doors (doors, hinges, mountings,
closing and latching mechanisms)

Section 5: Changing portals. Secular and liturgical use (medieval
procession liturgies, user hierarchy, liturgical dramas and legal acts)

Section 6: Adaptations, alterations and modifications of portals
(restoration layers, renovation measures, surface treatments,
maintenance, supplementation using copies, copying techniques in stone,
plaster und synthetic materials)

Section 7: The portal as a work of art (museum displays, illuminations,
repurposing, virtual presentations and representations)

The conference languages are German, English and French. Please send
your abstract (max. 1500-2000 characters, including spaces) to
Katja.Schroeck@uni-bamberg.de no later than 15 June 2017.