- Thomas Rainer: Review Elina Gertsman, The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books University Park: Penn State University Press, 2021 in: caa.review.2022.35 http://www.caareviews.org/reviews/3983
- David Ganz: Review Richard K. Emmerson, Apocalypse Illuminated: The Visual Exegesis of Revelation in Medieval Illustrated Manuscripts, University Park (Pennsylvania), Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018, in: Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, 256 (2021), 393-394. https://journals.openedition.org/ccm/8786
- David Ganz: Review Das Gerresheimer Evangeliar. Eine spätottonische Prachthandschrift als Geschichtsquelle (Forschungen zu Kunst, Geschichte und Literatur desMittelalters, 1), hg. von Klaus Gereon Beuckers und Beate Johlen Budnik, Köln 2016 – Das Sakramentar aus Tyniec. Eine Prachthandschrift des 11. Jahrhunderts und die Beziehungen zwischen Köln und Polen in der Zeit Kasimir des Erneuerers (Forschungen zu Kunst, Geschichte und Literatur des Mittelalters, 3), hg. von Klaus Gereon Beuckers und Andreas Bihrer unter Mitarbeit von Ursula Prinz, Köln 2018 – Das Jüngere Evangeliar aus St. Georg in Köln. Untersuchungen zum Lyskirchen-Evangeliar (Forschungen zu Kunst, Geschichte und Literatur des Mittelalters, 5), hg. von Klaus Gereon Beuckers und Anna Pawlik, Köln 2019, in: Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch, 56 (2021), 146-156. https://mjb.hiersemann.de/index.php/mjb/article/view/273
- Thomas Rainer: Review Petr Voit, Kostbare Bucheinbände der Stiftsbibliothek Strahov in Prag. Von der Gotik an die Schwelle des Barocks, in: Umení/ Art, 69 (2021), 222-224. https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/212242/1/Rainer_Review_Voit.pdf
- Katharina Theil: Review Kristin Böse, Von den Rändern gedacht. Visuelle Rahmungsstrategien in Handschriften der Iberischen Halbinsel, Köln / Weimar / Wien 2019, in: sehepunkte 21 (2021), Nr. 6 [15.06.2021], URL: http://www.sehepunkte.de/2021/06/33494.html
- David Ganz: Review Karl-Georg Pfändtner (Hrsg.): Gold und Bücher lieb ich sehr …. 480 Jahre Staats- und Stadtbibliothek Augsburg. Die Cimelien (Katalog zur Cimelien-Ausstellung vom 19.10.–15.12.2017), Luzern: Quarternio Verlag 2017, in: Rottenburger Jahrbuch für Kirchengeschichte, 39 (2020), 509-511. https://www.recensio-regio.net/rezensionen/zeitschriften/rjkg/39-2020/ReviewMonograph738190367
- David Ganz: Review Beatrice Kitzinger, The Cross, the Gospels, and the Work of Art in the Carolingian Age, Cambridge University Press 2019, in: The Art Bulletin, 102 (2020), 133-135. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00043079.2020.1755571
- Thomas Rainer: Review Anna Bücheler, Ornament as Argument. Textile Pages and Textile Metaphors in Early Medieval Manuscripts, Berlin / Boston 2019, in: Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, 2021 (in print)
The research group “Textures of Sacred Scripture. Materials and Semantics of Sacred Book Ornament” invites paper proposals for a three-day international conference on “Book Ornament and Luxury Critique”. The conference, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, is scheduled to take place at the Institute of Art History at the University of Zurich from 15 to 17 September 2022.
In his famous preface to Job, Jerome severely criticizes sumptuous luxury in the ornamentation of books: “Let those who will keep the old books with their gold and silver letters on purple skins (…) if only they will leave for me and mine, our poor pages and copies which are less remarkable for beauty than for accuracy” (Praefatio in librum Hiob, ed. Schaff/Wace 1890, 492). While this source is often cited as proof of the availability of luxurious copies of sacred scriptures in Late Antiquity, and the continuation of such splendor – despite clerical opposition – throughout the Middle Ages, the tradition of luxury critique it documents, and its further development, has received far less attention. When, how, and under what circumstances might book ornament be understood as offensive, and which strategies were employed to avoid such critique or to create books that are ostentatiously ascetic?
Since antiquity, philological correctness was opposed to ornament in the rhetorical discourse, which associated an overtly rich language with overblown luxury and female adornment. Already in Roman literature, this gendered discourse was projected onto the material artifacts of writing, a tradition that influenced the varied discussions about the materiality of sacred books and their status in Christian, Islamic and Jewish book cultures from Late Antiquity until the end of the Middle Ages and beyond. In all three religious traditions, the discourse concerning the ornamentation of scripture established connections “between ornamenting bodies, buildings and language, in which fancy forms are rejected in favor of plain, and embellishment opposed to simplicity in a dialect of truth and falsity” (F. B. Flood, in: Clothing Sacred Scriptures, ed. D. Ganz/B. Schellewald, Berlin/Boston 2019, 52).
The conference welcomes proposals that consider the entire range of such critique of book ornament in Christian, Islamic and Jewish book cultures, and that analyze their specific contexts and semantics, as well as “the spaces of negotiation, in which artists, commissioners and users could react to critical allegations without simply obeying them” (D. Ganz, as above, 34). The time range for proposed papers is from antiquity through the Middle Ages and beyond; early modern and Reformation studies as well as broader theoretical approaches are also welcome. Discussions across disciplinary boundaries are encouraged. Topics of particular interest are:
- material semantics of luxury and its opposites (especially the role of color, layout and format)
- critique of gilded script and the clothing of scriptures in gold, jewelry and textiles
- self-commenting books (e. g. Richard de Bury’s Philobiblon) and self-legitimation of ornament
- the ornament critique of the monastic orders
- the economics of luxury and its critique
- the rhetoric of luxury critique
- luxury critique and gender discourses
- luxury critique in an interreligious perspective
Speaking time for each paper should not exceed 30 minutes and will be followed by a discussion. The conference languages are English, German, French and Italian. Submissions should include the title and an abstract (max. 300 words) as well as the name, contact information and a short CV of the speaker. Proposals should be submitted to email@example.com by 15 April 2022. Acceptance of papers will be confirmed at the beginning of May 2022. The conference is currently planned as an in-person meeting. Travel expenses and on-site accommodation of all speakers will be covered.
Conference: Sakrale Schriftbilder. Zur ikonischen Präsenz des Geschriebenen im mittelalterlichen Kirchenraum, organized by Sonderforschungsbereich 933 “Materiale Textkulturen”, Universität Heidelberg, 21.-22.01.2022. For more
Lecture Series: Actualité de la recherche, University of Geneva, Département d’ histoire de l’ art et de musicologie, Unité d’ histoire de l’ art and HEAD – Genève, organized by Anthony Masure, Christelle Granite-Noble, Henri de Riedmatten and Alessia Alfieri. For more information click here
Zoom link: https://unige.zoom.us/j/99445818536
The lecture is open to the public.
Study Day: Research Field B Inscribing Spaces: Inscribing Metal, Cluster of Excellence “Understanding Written Artefacts”, University of Hamburg, Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, organized by Kaja Harter-Uibopuu.
Conference “Gesicht und Handschrift. Transzendente Begründung und Authentifikation in mittelalterlichen Visionen”. Akademie der Diözese Rottenburg – Stuttgart, 18.03. – 20.03.2021. In Zusammenarbeit mit dem DFG-Projekt “Vergänglichkeit und Ewigkeit” (Universität Kiel und Universität Köln) und dem Arbeitskreis für hagiographische Fragen. For more information about the speakers, schedule and program of the online conference click here
Recent advances in the technical analysis of purple colorants have spurred new interest in the aesthetics of purple ornament in medieval manuscripts. This most prestigious embellishment associated with imperial splendor underwent stunning transformations between the 6th and the 12th century. Purple dyes (mostly produced from lichens) were not only used to color the entire parchment surfaces of sacred books, but purple colorants were also used selectively to highlight specific texts, pages and miniatures corresponding to the content, topology, imagery, and script of individual manuscripts. Various techniques and methods were employed to create multi-sensory purple textures, combining shades of purple from red to dark blue and evoking different purple-colored materials such as silks and porphyry. This two-day workshop at the Chair of Medieval Art History at the University of Zurich will explore a range of questions about the materials and semantics of medieval purple manuscripts.
Registration is required by 22.11.2021: firstname.lastname@example.org
A COVID-19-certificate is mandatory for participants attending in person.
A Zoom link will be provided for participants unable to attend in person.
Continue to the program.
The Handbook of Medieval Book Ornament aims to give a survey of up-to-date research on the materials, the techniques and the semantics of deluxe manuscripts in the Western Middle Ages. It will comprise over 150 articles written by specialists of the respective topic.
In the Middle Ages, textiles were variously used to preserve manuscripts, to increase their preciousness, to protect their bindings and their images, and to enhance the devotional experience of the reader. Along with other luxury goods like gold, ivory and precious stones, textile elements were one of the most often used; at the same time, they are one of the least researched materials today. Indeed, textiles have in general long occupied a marginal position in art historical research. In addition to obstacles like their extreme fragility, such that they are usually in poor condition or not preserved at all, the phenomenon of “fast fashion” expresses a modern relationship to textiles that could hardly be in sharper contrast to that of the Middle Ages. While textiles today are mostly cheap and short-lived mass-produced goods – and thus knowledge, awareness and appreciation of their materiality is almost completely lost – in the medieval era they were manufactured in time-intensive processes and reused over centuries. Textiles embellished sacred rooms, objects, actions, or people and, in the form of clothes, hangings, tapestries and curtains, were a highly valued representational medium of social and political elites.
Although textiles (especially tapestries and liturgical vestments) have recently become a focus of research, a systematic examination of textile elements in the context of sacred scriptures in the Western Middle Ages has so far been lacking. This project thus aims to examine textile book decoration from the 8th to the 13th century in its various material manifestations. Textiles and textile techniques were strikingly incorporated into the structure and decoration of medieval books. They served as book covers, or as parts of them together with other materials, but also as components within the book, into which they were sewn as flyleaves, pastedowns, and “curtains” (covering miniatures), or shown in painted form in so-called “textile pages”. A survey of the forms and functions of textiles in manuscripts seeks to unveil their role in the medieval reader’s experience, in the context of the importance of textiles in liturgical performance and devotional practice.
The image above shows a detail of a miniature in the Berthold Sacramentary (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M. 710, fol. 16v, Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds), an illuminated manuscript produced in the first quarter of the 13th century at Weingarten Abbey. The manuscript contains an exceptional group of twenty original silk “curtains” in red and white, which are placed over the miniatures and initials. Usually, such textiles have been lost or removed, and only a close inspection reveals needle holes or remnants of thread in the margins around manuscript images, indicating the former presence of a textile. In addition to the general assumption that such “curtains” functioned as protection for the images and initials, they also served as a genuine part of the book, as material alternation to the parchment pages, as well as to conceal/reveal the images and the words to the reader.
Researcher: Sabrina Schmid
Image Credit: Morgan Library and Museum, Dept. of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Berthold Sacramentary, The Nativity and the Annunciation to the Shepherds (detail), Weingarten, Germany, 1215–1217, MS M.710, fol. 16v, silk down. Purchased by J.P. Morgan, 1926