Methods of Making Insular Manuscripts


NEWS: Methods of Making Insular Manuscripts, by Becky Lawton.

The Medieval Manuscripts section at the British Library is a partner in a new project, Insular Manuscripts AD 650-850: Networks of Knowledge, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The first of three international workshops at the heart of this project was held at the British Library on 24th and 25th April 2017. These workshops will support the future study of Insular manuscripts preserved in libraries around the world, which are becoming increasingly accessible via digital facsimiles.

The London workshop focused on ‘Methods of making: palaeographical problems, codicological challenges’. Through a mixture of presentations and group discussion, the workshop considered what is known about the origin, production and circulation of Insular manuscripts from AD 650 to 850.

Beginning with the basics, the workshop opened with an examination of what it means to describe a manuscript as Insular. The term ‘Insular’ is used to describe a range of scripts which originated in Ireland in the 6th century. The higher grade manuscripts are characterised by elaborate initial letters decorated with interlace and zoomorphic designs, and smaller initials embellished with red dots.

The use of Insular script soon spread to Anglo-Saxon England, particularly Northumbria, and was taken to continental Europe by Irish and Anglo-Saxon missionaries where manuscripts written in Insular scripts continued to be produced well into the ninth century. Around 500 Insular manuscripts survive and 75% of these are now in continental European libraries, including about 40% in Germany and 10% in France. Some of these are very well known and are among the greatest treasures to survive from medieval Europe, but many more are much less studied and have much to reveal about the deep cultural connections between England, Ireland and continental Europe in the early Middle Ages.

Script is not the only feature of a manuscript which can be described as Insular. The workshop also explored distinctive Insular methods of making and preparing parchment. In the early medieval period, parchment was made from the skin of calves, sheep and goats. Monasteries often used certain skins for different purposes, and established their own methods of preparing and arranging the parchment in book production. By studying these book production techniques, it is possible to reveal important details such as where a manuscript was produced and what resources a monastery could draw upon.

The influence of Insular parchment production and arrangement can even be seen in manuscripts which were written in a Roman style using Italian-influenced uncial script, as in the Ceolfrith Leaves, fragments of one of three great Bibles written at Wearmouth-Jarrow in the early 8th century. The Ceolfrith Leaves used calf skin in traditional insular style, but announcing an important discovery, Jiří Vnouček revealed that the sister manuscript known as the Codex Amiatinus (now Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana MS Amiat. 1) was made entirely from goat and sheep skin, mimicking the very best Italian book production in materials as well as script. The decision to produce Codex Amiatinus on Italian-style parchment fits into the overall ‘Romanizing’ character of the codex which was created as a gift for the pope.

Our modern understanding of Insular manuscripts and the monasteries which produced them is often defined by luxury manuscripts such as the Ceolfrith Leaves or the Lindisfarne Gospels, but these monasteries would also have produced many more ‘everyday’, utilitarian texts, which rarely survive.

One example of an ‘everyday’ text which does survive, written in Insular script, is a letter sent from the Bishop of London to the Archbishop of Canterbury in AD 704 or 705. This letter is the earliest original letter written on parchment to survive from the Christian West. Original letters rarely survive because they had no legal value, and so there was less reason to preserve the original. There are clear differences between the cursive Insular minuscule script used to write this letter, and the elaborate Insular majuscule (also known as Insular half-uncial) used to write the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Manuscripts are inherently portable objects and were often taken away from their centre of production. Many manuscripts written in Ireland and Anglo-Saxon England, using Insular script, were exchanged between the two countries and sent to and from institutions on the Continent.

One particular manuscript discussed in the workshop was the British Library’s Irish Pocket Gospel book. This tiny manuscript (130 mm x 105 mm) was produced in Ireland in the late 8th or early 9th century, and had made its way to Anglo-Saxon England by the 10th century. In England, the decoration surrounding some illuminated initials was scraped away and repainted. It is possible to see traces of the original design.

An on-going point of discussion throughout the workshop was the wide geographical reach of Insular manuscripts and the pervasive legacy of their style. The people and places that produced and used these books, and the opportunities for study created by advances in digital technology will be at the forefront of the discussions of the next two workshops to be held in 2018 and 2019.

The participation of the Medieval Manuscripts section in the project complements the early medieval focus of recent digitisation projects. Over 175 Anglo Saxon manuscripts have currently been digitised, and 400 more manuscripts produced before c. 1200 will be digitised thanks to The Polonsky Foundation England and France Project: Manuscripts from the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, 700–1200.

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Bibliothèque virtuelle du Mont Saint-Michel

WEBSITE: Bibliothèque virtuelle du Mont Saint-Michel.

La Bibliothèque virtuelle met à la disposition des lecteurs les notices descriptives de l’ensemble des ouvrages provenant du Mont Saint-Michel aujourd’hui répertoriés, quel que soit l’établissement où ils sont conservés. Le catalogue est organisé par lieux actuels de conservation, puis par collections de manuscrits et d’ouvrages imprimés.

Les notices du catalogue signalent, pour chaque ouvrage, l’existence de reproductions numériques disponibles en ligne. Le partenariat de l’Equipex Biblissima a permis de compléter la numérisation des manuscrits conservés à la bibliothèque patrimoniale d’Avranches et de constituer une collection complète de fac-similés numériques consultables directement depuis le catalogue.

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Special Collections Manager, Manchester

JOB: Special Collections Manager, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester. Grade 8 (£33,943 to £39,324). Permanent, full time. Ref: T2-80325835-02.

Manchester Metropolitan University has developed a new vision for excellence. Its ambition is simple: to be the best modern university in the sector, where students and staff alike are equipped with every resource to excel. Library Services is at the heart of academic life. We have a strong culture of continuous improvement and we are passionate about providing the best customer service.

We care about delivering sector-leading services, developing partnerships, and providing outstanding levels of support to eight Faculties and 37,000 students. We are proud of our highly skilled, collaborative team and of our unique resources, including the award winning North West Film Archive and Special Collections, which enable us to support our customers in their learning, teaching, scholarships and research.

As a University Museum, MMU Special Collections is a primary resource for Manchester Metropolitan University, the North-West region and beyond. Since 2005, MMU Special Collections has had Accredited Museum status in recognition of its unique collections and associated staff and services. The Collections include fine and decorative arts, historic and modern books, Victorian greetings cards and ephemera, posters and artists’ papers. Access to the collections and exhibitions is free and open to all.

We are seeking an experienced, proactive and motivated professional to fill this exciting new post. Reporting to the relevant Library Services Manager, the Special Collections Manager will play a leading role in the management and development of the Special Collections at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The successful candidate will provide senior support to develop and deliver strategic improvements to the service and to monitor and evaluate the success of those improvements. The role will involve developing and implementing effective fundraising strategies to increase income and support Special Collections activities and future development.
Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate will be able to communicate a vision for developing collections and activities to both the Special Collections team and the wider University. You will also be able to translate that vision into action. With extensive experience in special collections, art galleries or museums, you will ensure that the collections make a significant contribution to teaching, research, and engagement with the wider community. You will have demonstrated the ability to manage significant projects, develop relationships with donors and secure external funding. The candidate must be educated to degree level.

Manchester Metropolitan University is committed to creating a diverse environment where everybody is treated with dignity, fairness and respect. We welcome applications from all potential candidates.

Advert closing date: 9 June 2017.

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The Physiologus between East and West


CONFERENCE:  The Physiologus between East and West. Transmission and dissemination of an early Christian text on nature, Paris, Université de la Sorbonne – Maison de la Recherche, 15 – 17 June 2017.


15 June 2017
Session 1 – The Greek Physiologus: Manuscripts and contexts (chair: S. Lazaris)
* Horst Schneider, Der Physiologus: Grundlagen und Perspektiven
* Arnaud Zucker, The evolution of the Greek Physiologus in the three recensions
* Adele Di Lorenzo, La tradition du Physiologus grec dans les manuscrits de la BNF et de la BAV. Réflexions pour une étude comparée
* Alain Touwaide, The Physiologus and the tradition of the iatrosophia.

16 June 2017
Session 2 – The illustrations of the Physiologus in a comparative perspective (chair: A. Dorofeeva)
* Massimo Bernabo, “The Smyrna Physiologus: a manuscript with many open questions”
* Jacqueline Leclercq-Marx, “Un champ métaphorique exemplaire. À propos du rapport entre texte et illustration dans le Bruxellensis 10066-77 (Meuse ?, fin du Xe s.)”
* Stavros Lazaris, “Un nouveau manuscrit illustré du Physiologus grec : à propos d’une découverte récente”

Session 3 – Eastern traditions 1 (chair: C. Macé)
* Gohar Muradyan & Aram Topchyan, The Armenian Physiologus
* Jost Gippert, The Georgian Physiologus.

Session 4 – Eastern traditions 2 (chair: J. Gippert)
* Alin Suciu, The Coptic Physiologus: Evidence of an Early Translation
* Massimo Villa, The Ethiopic Physiologus: Manuscript tradition and Desiderata
* Sami Aydin, The Syriac Physiologus Versions and Related Bestiaries.

Session 5 – Eastern traditions 3 (chair: V. Pakis)
* Sibylle Wentker, The Arabic Physiologus, early text in late transmission?
* Anissava Miltenova, The Physiologus in Balkan Cyrillic Manuscripts: from Textological to Socio-Rhetorical Approach
* Ana Stoykova, The Slavic translation of the Pseudo-Basilian recension: the compilation approach.

17 June 2017
Session 6 – Editions and future prospects (chair: A. Zucker)
* Anna Dorofeeva, The early mediaeval Latin Physiologus between tradition and innovation
* Emmanuelle Kuhry, Le projet Physiologus – Stemmatologie. Résultats et perspectives pour une édition électronique
* Caroline Macé, Why new critical editions of the Physiologus in various languages (in Greek and Latin especially) are still needed.

Session 7 – Round Table
On publication and editorial projects, led by Valentine A. Pakis.

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Trends in Manuscript Studies (2017)

COURSE: Trends in Manuscript Studies. Sources, Issues and Technologies, Liber International Summer School, Cassino – Montecassino (FR – Italy), 26 – 30 June 2017.

The University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, in cooperation with the Abbey of Montecassino, is pleased to announce the organisation of its third Summer School for the benefit of master and PhD students, scholars, librarians and other experts or interested persons working with medieval manuscripts and early printed books.

The School aims to provide an updated vision of research trends and achievements in the fields of Greek and Latin manuscript research, with a particular focus on the manuscripts preserved in Montecassino. The School will also off er a chance for participants to discuss their own research projects with some of the world leading experts in manuscript studies. The rich programme includes a guided tour to the Abbey of Montecassino, renowned for its abundance of medieval manuscript treasures.


26 June 2017
* Donatella Nebbiai, Medieval Libraries. Sources, History, and Public (9th-15th Century).

27 June 2017
Visit to the Abbey with dom Mariano Dell’Omo osb: the Museum, the Library and the Archive of Montecassino.

University of Cassino
* Marilena Maniaci, Codicology and Manuscript Description (1)
* Giulia Orofino, Manuscript Decoration and Illumination (1).

28 June 2017
Archive of the Abbey of Montecassino
* Marilena Maniaci, Codicology and Manuscript Description (2)
* Giulia Orofino, Manuscript Decoration and Illumination (2).

University of Cassino
* Paolo De Paolis, Latin Grammar Manuscripts (1)
* Sebastiano Gentile, Humanistic and Renaissance Manuscripts (1).

29 June 2017
Archive of the Abbey of Montecassino
* Paolo De Paolis and Maddalena Sparagna, Latin Grammar Manuscripts (2)
* Sebastiano Gentile, Humanistic and Renaissance Manuscripts (2).

University of Cassino
* Roberta Casavecchia, Homiliaries at Montecassino
* Nicola Tangari, Liturgical and musical manuscripts.

30 June 2017
Archive of the Abbey of Montecassino
* Roberta Casavecchia, Texts and Liturgy
* Marco Palma, Latin Paleography
* Nicola Tangari, Music and Liturgy.

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Associate Lecturers, University of St Andrews

JOB: Associate Lecturers (2 posts – temporary), University of St Andrews, School of Art History. Salary: £32,004 per annum pro rata. Ref: AO1495AC.

We wish to appoint two temporary Associate Lecturers within the School of Art History. We seek motivated colleagues committed to the delivery of high quality teaching within any area of art or architectural history before c. 1800. We may consider candidates whose specialisms lie after 1800, but are nevertheless willing to lecture first-year students on topics in the period c. 1200-1800. Effective communication skills are essential.

The successful candidates will be able to deliver research-led teaching at honours level (involving third- and fourth-year students), while also making accessible contributions to our first-year (AH1001, AH1003) lecture programme and running seminars for team-taught MLitt. modules.

These colleagues will also be required to undertake minor administrative tasks, and to sit on committees and working groups, both within the School and as representatives of Art History in the University broadly.

Closing Date: 5 June 2017. Start Date: 1 September or as soon as possible thereafter, Fixed term, 1 September 2017 – 30 June 2018

Source: H-NetJob

The Workshop and its Painters


FELLOWSHIP – The Workshop and its Painters: Perugino and the Perugineschi in Florence and Perugia, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Phd Studentship, The National Gallery, London and the Warburg Institute, University of London.

Applications are invited for a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD studentship, to be undertaken at the Warburg Institute (University of London) and the National Gallery (based in the Curatorial Department). This three-year (full-time) studentship commences on 1 October 2017 and will be jointly supervised by Professor Michelle O’Malley (Warburg Institute) and Dr Matthias Wivel (National Gallery). The student will spend the majority of their time at the National Gallery in the first year, undertaking field work in Perugia and Florence in the second year before spending their final year based at the Warburg Institute.

Pietro Perugino (living 1469-died 1523) was the most successful Italian painter of the end of the 15th century. He enjoyed great international success, and his ‘sweet style’ was universally praised. Yet by his death his work was already considered outdated and he became a relative nonentity, primarily remembered for teaching Raphael. He remains the only 15th century Italian painter known to have operated two workshops in different cities. While both are documented, Perugino’s rental of spaces in Florence from 1487 to 1511 and in Perugia from 1501 to 1513 complicates matters in regard to how he deployed assistants, in a career that ranged from Venice to Naples and Rome to Fano.

The project’s overall aim is to improve understanding of the management and operation of painting workshops in Renaissance Italy. The project will draw on the case study of Pietro Perugino to challenge our understanding of the numerous serial and derivative paintings produced within the workshops of Florentine masters in the late-15th and early-16th century. The research will investigate how Perugino managed production and used – and famously reused – material in two workshops, as well as how individual works were made by numerous assistants at different levels of expertise. The innovation of the research lies in its investigation of Perugino’s two workshops, never properly analysed previously.

In addition to the thesis, academic outcomes will include scholarly articles, a possible monograph, participation in (inter)national scholarly conferences and workshops, as well as the Warburg’s Work in Progress seminars and research events at the National Gallery and the Warburg.

Both partner organisations and the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partner consortium will provide opportunities for training and career development.

The closing date for applications is 12:00 noon (UK time) on 20 June 2017. Interviews will take place on 13 July 2017.

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Devotional Writing in Early Modern England

CONFERENCE: Devotional Writing in Print and Manuscript in Early Modern England, 1558-1700, University of Warwick, Ramphal Building, Coventry, 26 June 2017. Registration is now open.

Devotions in early modern England, public or private, were central to the everyday lives of clergy and laity alike. Yet such practises were routinely transformed by men and women who did not just record but reconfigured their piety through writing.

From accounts of fasts, feasts, and thanksgiving days; prayers and sacred songs; covenants and confessing of sins; narratives of conversion, baptism or burial; biblical graffiti; repetition of sermons; conferencing and conventicles.

English citizens, individually and communally, and on either side of the confessional divide, had a regimen of acts that were to be performed and perfected during their lifetimes. This one day conference aims to investigate how print and manuscript cultures coalesced and collided in their re-presentation of post-Reformation devoutness.

Devotional Writing in Print and Manuscript is a major one day multi-disciplinary conference, hosted by the University of Warwick’s English Department in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance, The Humanities Research Centre and the Early Modern Forum.

Registration will close on 15 June 2017.

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Kunsttexte: Original – Kopie – Fälschung

CALL FOR PAPERS: Original – Kopie – Fälschung.

Since the artistic production of artefacts, copies have also been made – for representative, dynastic, political or purely decorative purposes. The numerous imperial busts put up in the Roman provinces were important for the power preservation of the Roman Empire. While through copies of Greek busts and sculptures, which were well liked with the Roman patricians, antique Greek artworks that would otherwise be lost have outlasted till today.

However, the copy becomes a forgery when it is presented as an original thus attributing an unworthy fame and wealth to the artist. Leon Battista Alberti reports with reference to the antique sculptors Kalami and Zenodorus about such artists: “Sunt qui aliorum pictorum opera aemulentur, atque in ea re sibi laudem quaerant” (“There are those whose ambition passes to copy the works of other painters and to reach in this manner to success”, De pictura 58).

From Michelangelo is delivered that he took part in an art fraud, passing off a figure of a sleeping Cupid as an antique sculpture – the attempted fraud, which has been discovered, has not damaged his career at all, on the contrary.  Also in the present, there are cases of spectacular forgeries over and over again which, as the example of the Starry Messenger (Sidereus Nuncius) of Galileo Galilei shows, can also lead to scientific misinterpretation.

We welcome contributions which lend themselves to the understanding of original, imitation, copy and forgery works in connection with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Different questions and perspectives are possible such as:
- aesthetic and art-philosophical positions to the question of original and imitation, to concepts like imitatio, aemulatio, inventio, novitas etc in the Middle Age and the Renaissance
- the significance of copies and replicas for the development of art practice and art theory
- case studies of art forgeries in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance or from forgeries of medieval and renaissance art periods in later epochs or the present.

Subject proposals: 30th of June 2017; and finished articles 31st of January 2018. The contributions can be written in German, English, French, Italian or Spanish.

For further inquiries and abstracts, please contact: Angela Dressen, Susanne Gramatzki and Berenike Knoblich.

Read more information about the Open Access Journal Kunsttexte and the editorial staff directives under.

Source: H-ArtHist

Il buon secolo della pittura senese


EXHIBITION: Il buon secolo della pittura senese. Dalla Maniera moderna al Lume Caravaggesco, Montepulciano, San Quirico d’Orcia e Pienza, 18 marzo 2017 – 30 giugno 2017. La mostra è stata prorogata fino al 30 settembre 2017.

Sedi della mostra:
1. Domenico Beccafumi, l’artista da giovane, Montepulciano, Museo Civico Pinacoteca Crociani.
2. Dal Sodoma al Riccio: la pittura senese negli ultimi decenni della Repubblica, San Quirico d’Orcia, Palazzo Chigi Zondadari.
3. Francesco Rustici detto il Rustichino, caravaggesco gentile e il naturalismo a Siena, Pienza, Conservatorio S. Carlo Borromeo.

La grande mostra che si svolge in tre straordinarie città gioiello del Senese, si ispira, nel titolo, ad una frase dell’abate Luigi Lanzi, storico dell’arte vissuto tra Sette e Ottocento ed è dedicata ad uno specifico periodo storico che va dagli inizi del XVI alla metà del XVII secolo, quando l’arte senese brillava di eccellenti e singolari personalità artistiche ancora, nella maggior parte dei casi, troppo poco note al grande pubblico.

Allo scopo di migliorare la loro conoscenza, nasce l’idea di questa originale rassegna in cui le città di Montepulciano, S. Quirico d’Orcia e Pienza ospitano ciascuna, prendendo spunto da un capolavoro che si trova sul territorio, una sezione espositiva dedicata a un importante artista senese ed al suo ambiente. Ogni settore prevede un itinerario alla scoperta di opere altrettanto significative rispetto a quelle esposte ma che, per varie ragioni, sono rimaste nelle loro sedi originali.

Questa soluzione permette di completare idealmente la visita con il valore aggiunto di percorrere e scoprire una terra splendida e magnificamente conservata. Tutte le opere in mostra provengono da prestigiose collezioni pubbliche e private, chiese ed istituzioni religiose, allo scopo di donare ai visitatori una visione quanto più esaustiva possibile di un grande secolo un poco dimenticato.

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Six Authors for the National Gallery, London

JOBS: Authors (Collection Information project), The National Gallery, London. Fixed Term Full-Time. Salary: £25867 – £32410. Job ref: 1494.

Can you write engagingly about paintings to a strict word-count and in a limited time?

If so, the National Gallery is seeking six authors to research and write short and long descriptions of its paintings, and short accounts of people related to the paintings, as part of a major project to improve the Gallery`s digital information.

We are looking for people with a postgraduate degree in the history of art, or technical art history, with a focus on one or more aspects of European painting c.1200-c.1900; a reading knowledge of at least one European language; and a proven ability to quickly research and summarise art-historical information, writing concisely, accurately, and grammatically in English for a non-specialist readership.

Appointments will take into account the balance of geographical, chronological and technical expertise across all six post holders.

Please note these six fixed-term posts are each for a period of 18 months.

Closing date: 19 June 2017. Interview date: 24th July – 4th August.

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From Codex to the Cloud (Oxford-Medina)

LECTURE: Nicolai Sinai (University of Oxford) and Alasdair Watson & Keith Small (Bodleian Libraries), From Medina to Oxford, from Codex to the Cloud: Scenes from the life of the Qur’an, Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, Oxford, 30 May 2017.

Traditionally believed to be the revelatory irruption of divine speech into human history, the Qur’an is a literary document whose eventful biography spanning a millennium and a half yet remains to be written.

In a collaborative presentation, three Oxford scholars will present crucial waystations in the life of the Qur’an. Nicolai Sinai will guide the audience through current research seeking to reconstruct the literary genesis of the Qur’anic texts in late antique Arabia; Alasdair Watson will examine how early modern collectors and adventurers first introduced Qur’anic manuscripts to European libraries, including the Bodleian; and Keith Small will show how Qur’anic codices that have been dispersed by the vagaries of early modern manuscript hunting can now be virtually reunited by cutting-edge digital technology.

There will be a small display on the history of the Qur’an to accompany the lecture.

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