Dr. Thomas Rainer
SNF-Project Textures of Sacred Scriptures
University of Zurich
Institute of Art History

Rämistrasse 73
CH- 8006 Zurich

Rämistrasse 59
2nd Floor, G21

Thomas Rainer

Thomas Rainer is an art historian specializing in all aspects of medieval book culture. After studying art history and ancient history at the universities of Innsbruck and Freiburg im Breisgau, he completed his PhD with a dissertation on the early medieval book covers of the Longobard queen Theodelinda in Monza. Following a three-year research stay at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, he worked as a museum curator with the Bavarian Administration of Palaces, Gardens and Lakes in Munich, where he organized, among others, an international exhibition on the late medieval Ottheinrich Bible, the earliest surviving illustrated manuscript of the New Testament in German. Recently, he has been working on intercultural transfers between Jewish and Christian book culture, on material religion and sacred scriptures, as well as on a history of polishing, the critique of luxury, and ornament, research fields that will also be a focus of the current project on the purple skins of early medieval manuscripts.

Selected Publications

  • 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)
  • Adoring God’s Name. Images of the Torah Case (Tik) and its Erasure in Medieval Jewish and Christian Manuscripts, in: Clothing Sacred Scriptures. Book Art and Book Religion in Christian, Islamic and Jewish Cultures, hg. v. David Ganz und Barbara Schellewald, Berlin/Boston 2019, S. 81-105.
  • Review David Ganz, Buch-Gewänder, in: Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, 81, 2018, S. 142-151.
  • Exhib.-Cat. Kunst & Glaube. Ottheinrichs Prachtbibel und die Schlosskapelle Neuburg, hg. von Brigitte Langer und Thomas Rainer, München / Regensburg 2016.
  • Das Buch und die vier Ecken der Welt. Von der Hülle der Thorarolle zum Deckel des Evangeliencodex, Wiesbaden 2011 (Bd. 27 der Reihe Spätantike – Frühes Christentum – Byzanz).
  • Betrüger und Kunstdiplomaten. Mittelalterliche Künstlerkarrieren am Beispiel des Goldschmieds, in: Ausst.-Kat. Gold. Schatzkunst zwischen Bodensee und Chur, Bregenz, Vorarlberger Landesmuseum, 21. Juni – 5. Oktober 2008, Ostfildern 2008, S. 34-47.



Research Areas

  • Medieval book culture
  • Precious book covers and bindings
  • Material Religion
  • Materials and Semantics of Sacred Scriptures
  • History of Polishing
  • Ornament and Luxury Critique
  • Intercultural transfers between Jewish and Christian book culture

Research Project

Purple Skins