Entries Tagged as 'Middle Ages'

Medieval and Renaissance Art and Identity

BOOK: Art and Identity: Visual Culture, Politics and Religion in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, edited by Sandra Cardarelli, Emily Jane Anderson and John Richards, Cambridge 2012 (Cambridge Scholars), 310 pp. black & white illustrations, £ 44.99.

This book provides a fully contextualised overview on aspects of visual culture, and how this was the product of patronage, politics, and religion in some European countries between the 13th and 17th centuries. The research that is showcased here offers new perspectives on the conception, production and reception of artworks as a means of projecting core values, ideals, and traditions of individuals, groups, and communities. This volume features contributions from established scholars and new researchers in the field, and examines how art contributed to the construction of identities by means of new archival research and a thorough interdisciplinary approach. The authors suggest that the use of conventions in style and iconography allowed the local and wider community to take part in rituals and devotional practices where these works were widely recognized symbols. However, alongside established traditions, new, ad-hoc developments in style and iconography were devised to suit individual requirements, and these are fully discussed in relevant case-studies. This book also contributes to a new understanding of the interaction between artists, patrons, and viewers in Medieval and Renaissance times.

* Brendan Cassidy, Images of Saints and Political Identity in Late-Medieval Italy (pp. 3-18)
* Catherine Lawless, Civic Identity, Sanctity and Gender in Trecento Florence (pp. 19-44)
*Sandra Cardarelli, The Cathedral, the Church and the City: Celebrating Saints in the Statutes of Southern Tuscan Cities (pp. 45-70)
*Sarah Schell, Death and Disruption: Social Identity and Representation in the Medieval English Funeral (pp. 71-97)
*Jacek Kowzan, Memorare Novissima Tua. The Iconography of the Last Four Things as a Representation of Religious Identity (pp. 98-126)
*Jill Harrison, Being Florentine: A Question of Identity in the Arte della Lana, Florence (pp. 127-148)
*Kees van der Ploeg, Maintaining Identity: The Fifteenth-Century Renovation of St Lebuinus in Deventer (pp. 149-166)
*Giovanna Guidicini, The Political and Cultural Influence of James V’s Court on the Decoration of the King’s Fountain in Linlithgow Palace (pp. 167-192)
*Jennifer Vlček Schurr, The Dedication Illustration of the Passional of Abbess Cunegund – and Questions of Identity (pp. 193-218)
*Joseph Hammond, Negotiating Carmelite Identity: The Scuola dei Santi Alberto e Eliseo at Santa Maria dei Carmini in Venice (pp. 219-242)
*Laura Walters, Finding Fialetti: Examining the Oeuvre of Odoardo Fialetti through the Sources Relating to His English Patronage (pp. 243-268).

Medieval Trade, Travel and Transmission

CALL FOR PAPERS:  Trade, Travel and Transmission in the Medieval Mediterranean, Third Biennial Conference of the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, 8-10 July 2013.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Prof. David Abulafia (University of Cambridge) and Prof. Carole Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh).

The Society for the Medieval Mediterranean is proud to announce our forthcoming third biennial conference, with the theme of ‘Trade, Travel and Transmission’. This three-day inter-disciplinary conference will bring scholars together to explore the interaction of the various peoples, societies, faiths and cultures of the medieval Mediterranean, a region which had been commonly represented as divided by significant religious and cultural differences. The objective of the conference is to highlight the extent to which the medieval Mediterranean was not just an area of conflict but also a highly permeable frontier across which people, goods and ideas crossed and influenced neighbouring cultures and societies. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers in the fields of archaeology, art and architecture, codicology, ethnography, history (including the histories of science, medicine and cartography), languages, literature, music, philosophy and religion.

Submission on the following topics would be particularly welcome:
* Activities of missionary orders
* Artistic contacts and exchanges
* Byzantine and Muslim navies
* Captives and slaves
* Cargoes, galleys and warships
* Costume and vestments
* Diplomacy
* Judaism and Jewish Mediterranean History
* Literary contacts and exchanges
* Material Culture
* Minority Populations in the Christian and Islamic Worlds
* Mirrors for Princes
* Music, sacred and secular
* Port towns/city states
* Relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
* Religious practices: saints, cults and heretics
* Scientific exchange, including astronomy, medicine and mathematics
* Seafaring, seamanship and shipbuilding
* Sufis & Sufi Orders in North Africa and the Levant
* Sultans, kings and other rulers
* Trade and Pilgrimage
* Travel writing
* Warfare: mercenaries and crusaders.

Please send abstracts of no longer than 250 words, together with a short CV (max. 2 sides of A4) to Dr Rebecca Bridgman (University of Cambridge, Vice-President of the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean).

Submission must be received by 1 December 2012.

Source: H-Net

The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages

EXHIBITION: The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages, The Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049-1687), 28 August – 11 November 2012 and 13 November 2012 – 3 February 2013.

Prayer, both personal and communal, was an integral aspect of life in Europe during the Middle Ages. The readings and rites contained in Christian devotional books were often accompanied by lavish decorations that were key in fostering and expressing the religious beliefs of the faithful. Executed in precious pigments and gold, illuminated manuscripts not only played a central role in the spiritual lives of medieval audiences but also served as material testaments to the piety of the books’ owners.

Public Devotion
Christian ceremonies gradually transformed into a series of complicated rites and performances over the course of the Middle Ages. The books produced for the liturgy (public worship services) often received rich decorative treatment, both to emphasize the religious importance of the readings and to symbolize the wealth and power of the church. Bibles and missals were placed on the altar during services, while music manuscripts were positioned on a lectern for multiple participants.

In a dramatic illustration that accompanies the chants for the feast of the Holy Innocents, the biblical king Herod sits at left, giving an order for the massacre of all male children under the age of two in an effort to kill the Christ child. At right a soldier holds an infant upside down by the leg, preparing to use his sword. This image appears in an antiphonal, a large manuscript that contains choral music sung during church services.

Private Devotion
Throughout the Middle Ages, small, handheld books with beautiful script and decorations encouraged private devotion, as pious individuals outside the church sought to imitate the daily prayer cycle known as the Divine Office recited by clerics, monks, and nuns. Breviaries (containing the texts of the Divine Office), psalters (with the biblical Psalms), and books of hours (an abbreviated form of the breviary for laypeople) were all designed for those who could afford such luxuries.

Devotional Literature
A variety of texts were written and illuminated during the Middle Ages to encourage piety and contemplation—and to meet a rise in literacy. The Bible and writings of early theologians, originally in Latin but also translated into local languages for greater accessibility, were primary texts. The lives of Christ and Mary, who were considered models of proper behavior, inspired imaginative accounts of events not recorded in the Bible. Illustrated stories of saints, full of entertaining narratives, also found popularity.

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Medieval Writing Materials

CALL FOR PAPERS: Medieval Writing Materials: Texts, Transmission, and the Manifestation of Authority, Session at the 48th International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo, 9-12 May 2013, sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (RGME). Organizer: Mildred Budny (RGME).

The study of writing materials is of value not only as a subject in its own right, but also as a source of information regarding the texts and images associated with them, the methods of their production, and the authority of their testimony as records of whatever sort.  Continuing our series of sessions on this theme, from year to year, this session aims to explore, develop, and advance these interlinked subjects, and to disseminate the results among many relevant (but seemingly unrelated) areas of study.  We propose to consider, for example, the evidence for trade in writing materials and useful methods for establishing the “authority” of “marginalized” – that is, isolated and often disregarded – texts and fragments as sources, through careful study of the dating criteria of the paper itself on which many are written, in different languages and regions.  We welcome contributions on materials used for preparing written texts and for sealing and authenticating them.

Please send your proposal for a paper with an abstract (on one page) and a completed Participant Information Form (click here) to the Director of the RGME Mildred Budny as early as possible.

Deadline: 15 September 2012.

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Time and the Medieval Object

CALL FOR PAPERS: Time and the Medieval Object, 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, 9-12 May 2013. Organizers: Gerry Guest (John Carroll University) and Maggie Williams (William Paterson University).

This session will consider the complex relationship between art objects and time in the Middle Ages and beyond.  It proceeds from the notion that medieval things refuse to remain fixed in single temporal moments. Instead, they reach back into the past and also anticipate their future lives through a variety of strategies, both materialist and idealist.

Medieval objects are regularly marked by a temporal instability. Ancient and foreign spolia were integrated into fine golden church furnishings and reliquaries. Composite objects made connections across time through stylistic affiliations and iconographic citations and they were regularly altered through the addition of new components and the removal of old.

They were also subject to wear and tear through ongoing use and occasional repurposing. Gifting and other changes of setting created complex genealogies mapped out over time. Medieval objects continued to exist beyond the Middle Ages and their impact on subsequent moments in time could also be a focus for proposed papers. Speakers should feel free to draw on theoretical developments in areas such as object-oriented philosophy, thing theory, and other realms of thought.

Please send brief abstracts (no more than 500 words) to Gerry Guest and/or Maggie Williams.

Deadline: 30 August 2012. Sponsor: The Material Collective.

Source: H-ArtHist

Symposium: Human / Animal (IMS, Paris)

CONFERENCE: Human / Animal, 9th Annual Symposium of the International Medieval Society (IMS-Paris), Centre Malher, 9 rue Malher, 75004 Paris, 28-30 June 2012. In conjunction with the Laboratoire de Médiévistique  Occidentale de Paris (LAMOP) de l’Université Paris I—Panthéon-Sorbonne.

Animals – both real and fantastical – were frequently central to medieval culture, thought and artistic production. This symposium addresses a particular aspect of this centrality: the relationship between humans and animals and the way this was imagined, defined and re-defined across the historical and cultural spectrum of the Middle Ages. The distinction between human and animal that modern culture often takes for granted is far from clear-cut in medieval contexts and was subject to historical and cultural change. Historians have suggested that the concept of the animal and the extent to which it represented a form of life distinguishable from that of human beings underwent considerable alteration in the twelfth century.

This may be seen in shifts in the terms used to describe animals; developments in the ways animals were represented in literature and art; and the evolution of key texts such as the Physiologus and its variants, the bestiaries. Within this context, the boundaries between humans and animals – which might be established through elements as diverse as the possession of language, a capacity for laughter, or legal responsibility – were subject to change and negotiation. The conference aims to interrogate the questions that the fluctuating relationship between human and animal in the Middle Ages raises from an historically inclusive, cross-disciplinary perspective by focusing on a number of key questions:

Keynote speakers:
* Christian Heck (Institut Universitaire de France & Université de Lille 3), L’homme et l’animal dans l’iconographie médiévale: hiérarchies et trangressions
* Susan Crane (Columbia University): Bisclavret meets Derrida: What can Medieval animal poetry tell contemporary animal theory?
* Peggy McCracken (University of Michigan): The wild man speaks.

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Images of Death in the Middle Ages

EXHIBITION: Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages, Los Angeles, The Getty Center, 29 May – 12 August 2012.

In the Middle Ages, hope mingled with fear concerning death and the afterlife, providing stirring subjects for manuscript illumination. Depictions of souls in paradise, the rewards of the blessed, and God’s mercy reassured Christian audiences, while sometimes horrific illustrations of funerals, demons, and the punishment of the wicked prompted the pious to repent for their sins. At the core of visual devotion stood images of the crucified Christ, promising resurrection and eternal salvation.

This exhibition—which includes not only manuscripts but also printed books, a panel painting, stained glass and other media—explores medieval images that reflect imagined travels to the netherworld and attempts to map what awaited humankind beyond this earthly existence.

The morbid imagery found in late medieval prayer books sheds light on the intense preoccupation with matters of death. Lavish depictions of deathbed scenes, funeral rites, and the uncertain fate of departed souls focused attention on the viewer’s own mortality and the transience of material wealth. Prayer cycles recorded in such manuscripts include the Office of the Dead, recited to ensure repose for the deceased and shorten their time in purgatory. The intimate scale of prayer books was appropriate, encouraging devout Christians to prepare themselves inwardly and contemplate death in solitude.

In The Three Living and the Three Dead, expressions of stark terror appear on the faces of noblemen on horseback as several corpses risen from the dead suddenly block their path. On the page’s borders, disguised among golden leaves and beautiful flowers, a skull stares out at the viewer as a reminder that death is hidden in all worldly delights.

Hell. Where is it? What does it look like? What horrors await the sinners there? In widely read stories such as The Visions of the Knight Tondal and The Divine Comedy, medieval audiences followed the main characters into the depths of the underworld, closely observing the infernal spectacle. These vivid accounts were frequently illustrated with terrifying images that exceeded even the most gruesome textual descriptions. The dialogue between the artistic imagination and a burgeoning scientific interest in the afterlife produced an idea of hell as a real, physical place infused with wild fantasies.

Originally written in the 1100s, The Visions of the Knight Tondal is the story of a wayward Irish knight whose dreamlike journey through hell and heaven teaches him the value of penitence. In the only known illustrated version of this tale, the Flemish artist Simon Marmion faithfully followed the text by depicting hell as a terrifying underground place with regions devoted to various sins—and punishments for them—and the awe-inspiring realms of heaven reserved for those who lived good and honest lives. The inventive images bring the story to life through atmospheric effects and expressive characters.

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Nuns’ Literacies in Medieval Europe

CONFERENCE: Nuns’ Literacies in Medieval Europe. II. An international and interdisciplinary conference, University of Missouri–Kansas City, USA, 5-8 June 2012.

This confernce is designed to bring together specialists working on diverse geographical areas to create a dialogue about the Latin and vernacular texts nuns read, wrote, and exchanged, primarily from the eighth to the mid-sixteenth centuries. International experts will address these issues in Kansas City. The resulting papers from this conference will form the chapters of a published volume.

It is the second in a series of three: the first conference was held in Hull from 20–23 June 2011; a third meeting will be held in Antwerp in June 2013.

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CFP: The Construction of Identity

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Construction of Identity in Medieval and Early Modern Times: Reflections on a Problem in Art History, University of Zurich, Kunsthistorisches Institut, 17 November 2012. Organizers: Peter Scholz (University of Zurich), Tristan Weddigen (University of Zurich) and Lars Zieke (Freie University Berlin).

The one-day conference is organized by the Zurich section of the SNF Sinergia project “Constructing Identity: Visual, Spatial, and Literary Cultures in Lombardy, 14th to 16th Centuries” (click here).

In recent years, studies on identity have noticeably increased, not only in formerly core disciplines such as sociology, gender studies or cultural sciences, but in art history as well. Concerning the application of the term “identity” to art historical studies, however, either the adoption of theoretical deductions from those disciplines is rarely connected stringently to the objects of art or the usage of “identity” occurs without consideration of its methodological and theoretical implications. This is especially the case for the art of the medieval and early modern times. Therefore, this international conference seeks to reflect fundamentally upon the usage of the term “identity” in art history, to possibly revise established opinions, and to problematize the possibilities for methodological orientation.

However, the term “identity” itself is elusive. In light of the transdisciplinary heterogeneity of the term and the great variety of identity theories, it might prove to be difficult to find a definition, which could do justice to all different approaches. Yet, one common denominator might be that “identity” presupposes that something can only be identical with something, i.e. that the identified is situated within a network, that it constitutes itself through relations. In doing so, it has to be differentiated between personal and collective identity, which stand in tension towards each other. This is demonstrated with regard to research on medieval and early modern times especially by the controversial term of the “individual”, underlining the foundation on processes of social interaction that are marked by or are in opposition to class and rank. The social status, the confessional commitment as well as the sexual attribution in this connection are considered formative parameters. Yet, none of these parameters was unalterable. Identity affiliations were convertible and under certain circumstances arbitrary.

How can we apply the disparate identity theories on art history? What kinds of problems appeared in previous research and will occupy us in the future? What are the possibilities and limits of the transposition of such a term like “identity” in art history? And, finally: which disciplines are particularly apt for transmitting the notion of identity to art historical studies? For example, art historians have committed themselves to engage in these issues for quite some time within the scope of gender studies through questions on the relation between body and representation and by breaking up traditional male-dominated canons of works, etc. Art historians with a postcolonial approach, on the other hand, attempt to deconstruct the identity-generating patriarchal and Eurocentric image policy.

And, in the end, more traditional art historical research also contributes to questions of identity: such as in the case of studies on court culture and patronage, on political iconography and symbolism, etc. Ultimately, even one of the fundamental categories of art history, “style”, is part of a larger identity discourse. “Style” refers itself mostly to the art production and art theory of a specific region or group, to the single personality of an artist or a workshop. The assumed characteristic relates to similarity in terms of formal criteria, which is ascribed as a common feature to the majority of manifestations of an epoch, a region, a person, etc. Style develops out of the not always conscious, but presumably coherent selection, evaluation and application of certain aesthetic properties. This manifestation of identity-constructing affiliation takes place via dissociation from something different. And, in the end, it is the very suppression of this affiliation that, in turn, enables a personal style and identity.

As to analyze this set of general questions about the art historical construction of identity, by reflecting once again fundamentally on the relation between identity research and art history, the conference will invite an interdisciplinary group of scholars, with focus on art history.

Submission of 30-minute presentation proposals. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. Papers will be delivered preferably in English. Please send your abstract and CV to Peter Scholz.

Deadline: 1 May 2012.

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The Absent Body in Art

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Absent Body in Medieval and Renaissance Art, Southeastern College Art Conference, Durham, North Carolina (Unites States), 18-20 October 2012.

As part of a three part series of sessions addressing the absent body throughout the history of western art, this session explores the ways in which the absent body is represented in medieval and Renaissance art. For this session, papers are invited that address representations of the absent body in art from between the years 800 and 1600 from the region of Europe and the Mediterranean. Papers might address this topic by focusing on religious or secular works that depict the body symbolically or in fragmented form. Topics that may be considered include, but are not limited to, discussion of relics, reliquaries, the Eucharist, the Trinity, funerary art, and courtly culture. In addition, papers might consider the impact that Christian decorum had on artists’ ability to represent the body during the Middle Ages as well as how these moral values changed with the rise of humanism and the Renaissance.

To submit an abstract, please click here. For any questions, please contact Emily Kelley.

Deadline: 20 April 2012.

Source: H-ArtHist

Quomodo decoretur pictura librorum

ARTICLE: Stefanos Kroustallis, ‘Quomodo decoretur pictura librorum’: Materials and Techniques of Medieval Illumination, in Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 41, 2011, n. 2, pp. 775-802.


The illumination of manuscripts was one of the most important sumptuary arts from the VIth to the XIIIth centuries, due to the symbolic and material value of the illuminated codex. As one of the tempera painting techniques, illumination followed the same guidelines regarding the preparation and use of pigments and colorants, taking into account the peculiarities of a flexible support such as parchment. The paper will study the materials and techniques of medieval illumination, using as primary sources contemporary treatises on art technology. These technical data will be associated with documentary information regarding the concept and work of the painter-illuminator in order to highlight the importance of one of the main ars mecanicae in the Middle Ages.

Price Formation in the Art Markets

CONFERENCE: Price Formation in Late Medieval and Early Modern Art Markets, 12. Irseer Arbeitskreis für vorindustrielle Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte, Schwabenakademie Irsee, 30 March – 1 April 2012.

Works of art are objects of particular interest for analysing  procedures of price formation. In the pricing of works of art, the aesthetic value of an art object was increasingly considered to be higher than its material value. This is usually the case when artists and agents start to make a clear distinction between high art and simple craftsmanship. The production process could likewise influence the level of pricing. If a piece of art was commissioned by an individual patron, the size of the object, the materials to be used and the selection of motives were frequently laid down in a written contract. Was the head of a workshop particularly well known, a contract could also stipulate the personal involvement of the master in the final execution of a work of art. Successful artists often employed their signature as a kind of brand name and calculated this bonus into the formation of their price for an art object.

In addition to custom-made products, early forms of serial production were introduced in order to serve the growing demand for specific art products, taking into account fashionable trends, as well as specific materials and techniques. Both categories of products – individual commissions and objects made for the art market – were affected by different trends in the designation of price levels. In the course of the centuries, different kinds of art markets developed. In addition to artists selling products from their own shop, specialized art agents established alternative networks for trading in art. With the rise of art galleries and art auctions a new system of price formation was established. In the context of evaluation the aesthetic qualities of a work of art, the expertise of specialists, the knowledge of connoisseurs and the discipline of art criticism were significant factors for the art trade.

These topics will be discussed systematically on the base of empirical case studies. The program of the conference combines contributions of an international panel of economic historians, social and cultural historians, art historians and sociologists specialized in the pricing of art.

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