This one day conference brings together the next generation of art history scholars to present and discuss their ongoing research. Papers will predominately focus on Italian and Northern Renaissance Art (c.1400–1600) and will encompass diverse media including tapestry, painting, engraving and stained glass.
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
|October 16, 2016 through January 8, 2017|
Walters Presents A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe
Features more than 100 objects from world-renowned collections
Baltimore, MD – The Walters Art Museum presents A Feast for the Senses: Art and Experience in Medieval Europe, a major international loan exhibition that brings together more than 100 works including stained glass, precious metals, ivories, tapestries, paintings, prints, and illuminated manuscripts from 25 public and private collections in the U.S. and abroad, including the Walters’ extraordinary medieval collection. On view from October 16, 2016 through January 8, 2017, A Feast for the Senses explores how medieval works of art spoke to all the senses. Luminous stained glass windows, tapestries depicting fragrant gardens, chalices used in the Eucharist—these objects were not only seen, but were also, and at the same time, touched, smelled, tasted, and heard. The Walters is first of only two venues to host this extraordinary exhibition. Admission is free.
During the late medieval period—roughly the 12th to 15th centuries—religious and secular life mingled to the point that the boundaries between them become hard to distinguish: the delights of life and anticipation of heavenly reward were closely intertwined. The arts of the time reflect a new interest in human experience, the enjoyment of nature, and the pursuit of pleasure by evoking and celebrating beauty through all of the senses. While such pleasures were not directed exclusively toward spiritual enlightenment, religious practices were also defined by rich sensory experiences.
The exhibition evokes these not only through the works of art on view but also through specially designed sensory experiences, ranging from smells of roses and incense to the sounds of church bells and gardens, and the tactility of rosary beads.
“In many museums today, visitors experience the artworks by viewing them from afar in silent galleries. A Feast for the Senses will push the boundaries of the art museum by inviting visitors to encounter art with more than just their eyes,” says exhibition curator Martina Bagnoli (former Walters’ curator of medieval art, who is now executive director of the Gallerie Estensi in Modena, Italy).
Loans and Support
More than 25 museums and collections in the United States and abroad are lending works to the exhibition, including the British Museum, London; the Musée du Louvre, Paris; the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. The exhibition also includes masterpieces from the Walters’ renowned collection of medieval art, one of the most important in the United States
A Feast for the Senses has been organized by the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, in partnership with the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, and will be on view at the Ringling February 4 through April 20, 2017.
The exhibition received major funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the National Endowment for the Arts; and anonymous donors, with additional support from the Gary Vikan Exhibition Fund, Nanci and Ned Feltham, and the Helen Hughes Trust. The accompanying catalogue was made possible by an anonymous donor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, or the National Endowment for the Arts.
This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
A generously illustrated catalogue presents new research in the developing field of sensory perception within art history. It includes essays by leading scholars exploring the themes of the exhibition through representations of religious practices, royal rituals, feasts and celebrations, and music and literature. Edited by exhibition curator Martina Bagnoli, the catalogue is published by the Walters Art Museum and distributed by Yale University Press. It is available for sale in the Walters Art Museum Store and online ($65, hardcover) beginning in mid-October.
Opening Day Event
A public opening day talk Symposium on the Senses in Medieval Culture will be held Sunday, October 16 at 1:30 p.m. Exhibition curator Martina Bagnoli, Walters’ in-house curator Joaneath Spicer, and other scholars will explore aspects of the role played by sensory perception in medieval culture that are both surprising and completely familiar to us today. A reception and book signing follow. Tickets are $10, and free for Walters members.
CFP: The Genesis of a Window:
Methods, Preparations and Problems of Stained Glass Manufacture, Stained Glass Research School – PhD Summer Symposium, University of York, King’s Manor, May 26 – 27, 2016
Deadline: May 8, 2016
The University of York’s Stained Glass Research School will be hosting
its annual PhD conference on 26th and 27th May 2016. From the early
medieval period stained glass design and manufacture has evolved and
reacted to changing tastes, styles and
technological advances. The conception and creation of stained glass
windows are influenced by factors as diverse as their architectural
settings, pictorial and
textual sources, and the politics of their patrons and custodians.
Proposals are invited for papers presenting research into any aspects
of stained glass design and creation from the development of
iconographic and structural design, to production methods and
How to submit: Please send proposals for 20 minute papers (no more than 300 words,
including title and name of corresponding author) to Katie Harrison
(firstname.lastname@example.org) and Oliver Fearon (email@example.com) by Sunday 8th
Heraldry Study Day
‘Mitres, Martlets and Mantling’: a heraldry study day organized by the Stained Glass Museum with Chloë Cockerill will take place on Saturday 10 September, 10.30am 4pm, at the Ely Cathedral Education and Conference Centre.
Heraldry is all around us – in both ecclesiastical and secular buildings – and can often provide vital information about the history of a building and the people associated with a place. This study day is intended as a basic introduction to the language and art of heraldry in all its various forms. Open to all, it will help you to recognize, interpret and accurately describe a variety of heraldic emblems. The day will be in split into two halves: a morning session of two informal introductory lectures – the first on how to identify and describe shields, colours, furs and the royal arms, and the second on how to understand arms that demonstrate peerage, and family pedigree. In the afternoon there will be a heraldic tour of Ely Cathedral to look at ecclesiastical arms and many other examples of heraldry in situ, before a visit to the Stained Glass Museum to see some fine examples of heraldic stained glass in both the museum’s main gallery and reserve collection.
Chloë Cockerill is a former Regional Development Manager for the Churches Conservation Trust. She is a popular lecturer for NADFAS, the National Trust, and many historical associations throughout Britain, with a special interest in heraldry and fabulous beasts. She has written articles and guide books on churches and heraldry and is an Ely Cathedral guide and Friend of The Stained Glass Museum.
Tickets: £40 (£30 for Friends of the Museum). Prices include lunch (all dietary requirements catered for). Please bring your Friends membership card or cathedral pass with you. You can book online, by telephone, or by post. Please make cheques payable to the Stained Glass Museum.
• Geoffrey Clarke: A New Spirit in Stained Glass (Stained Glass Museum gallery), 1 April – 1 July 2016
• Paradise and Other Places, Mick Abbott (Ely Cathedral in conjunction with the Stained Glass Museum), 14 June – 15 July 2016
• Sheryl Vaughan: Cast Glass (museum shop), 1 March – 30 April 2016
• Juliet Forrest: Landscapes (museum shop) 6 May – 10 June 2016
Dr Jasmine Allen, The Stained Glass Museum, Ely
Professor Tim Ayers, University of York
Sarah Brown, The York Glaziers Trust
Bridget Cherry, Independent Scholar
Dr Christian Liddy, University of Durham
Emma Woolfrey, University of York
Tickets including refreshments and lunch:
members of supporting organisations £45
local residents £45
Ludlow Palmers £40
Book at http://ludlowglass.eventbrite.co.uk or send a cheque made out to CTSLL to Ludlow Palmers, 2 College St, Ludlow SY8 1AN
Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
The University of York’s MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management is pleased to announce the numerous scholarship and funding opportunities available for students starting in September 2016.
This MA is the only course in Britain for the study of stained glass conservation and remains the only programme in the English-speaking world. York has unmatched resources in the Minster and city churches, its leading conservation studios and the Department’s lively Stained Glass Research School. This innovative programme offers an integrated study of stained glass and its conservation. Taught in partnership with the Department of Archaeology, the programme provides training for a variety of employment in stained glass conservation workshops, cultural heritage management, arts administration, administration of historic buildings and museums, and for higher research degrees.
We are happy to announce that The York Glaziers Trust will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2017, and as part of its celebrations will be awarding one MA in Stained Glass student entering in 2016 a £10,000 scholarship for the two year programme (open to UK/EU/Overseas applicants). There will also be funding available from the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) and we will be announcing some further scholarships soon.
Stained Glass students are also eligible to apply for the following History of Art scholarships: WRoCAH Research Preparation Masters scholarships and the Ede & Ravenscroft Bridge Scholarship in History of Art (Please note that these scholarships will only apply to Year 1 of the SG MA). Details of these two scholarships can be found here. 2016 also sees the introduction of the New Postgraduate Loans Scheme. There is also a York Graduate Loyalty Discount for continuing York students. A full list of overseas funding opportunities can be found here.