Upcoming symposiums and congresses: Issue 14, November 2014

Memorializing the Middle and Upper Classes I-IV

Four commemoration-themed panels during the Sixty-First Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America

Date 26 March 2015
Location Berlin, Humboldt-Universität
Organisation Anne Leader, The Italian Art Society; Grit Heidemann, Universität der Künste Berlin; Claudia Jentzsch, Universität der Künste Berlin; and Harriette Peel, The Courtauld Institute
Websites http://www.rsa.org/

Building on the session "Memorials for Merchants: The Funerary Culture of Late Medieval Europe's New Elite" (College Art Association Annual Meeting, 2014) and toward an edited volume on the subject, these sessions offer papers that investigate the habits and strategies of patrons of commemorative art ca. 1300-1700, while considering what relationship, if any, existed between patronal strategies and choices and location in societal hierarchy. The rising fortunes of merchants, lawyers, and other professionals allowed middle-class patrons to commission private tombs in numbers not seen since Roman times. While historians and anthropologists have looked broadly at European commemorative practices of the later Middles Ages and Renaissance, art historians have tended to focus on individual patrons, monuments, artists, or institutions. Our papers allow comparative analysis of the socio-cultural significance of memorialization both within particular cities and regions and across Europe. We welcomed papers that explore issues of social networks, the privatization of communal spaces, individual and corporate identities, personal and public memories, the relationships between the living and the dead, and other questions regarding commemoration, the use of space, and the patronage and reception of tombs and other memorials.

Memorializing the Middle and Upper Classes I: The Italian Bourgeoisie
Organizers Anne Leader, The Italian Art Society; and Harriette Peel, The Courtauld Institute
Chair Anne Leader, The Italian Art Society

Redefining Burial Practices and Social Boundaries in Fourteenth-century Pisa at the Camposanto
Dr. Karen Rose Mathews, University of Miami

In between the classes: Corporate Design versus a delusive Corporate Identity in Santo Spirito
Claudia Jentzsch, Universität der Künste Berlin

The Status of Color: vendecolori tomb locations and mercantile identity in sixteenth-century Venice
Dr. Julia A. DeLancey, Truman State University

Memorializing the Middle and Upper Classes II: Upward Mobility in Flanders, Spain, and France
Organizers Anne Leader, The Italian Art Society; and Harriette Peel, The Courtauld Institute
Chair Harriette Peel, The Courtauld Institute

Medieval tombs as Trendsetters - shaping remembrance in medieval Flanders and Hainaut
Sanne Frequin, University of Amsterdam

Nicolas Rolin and Pieter Bladelin - Fluidity in Social Classes in the 15th century Burgundian Netherlands
Ann Adams, The Courtauld Institute

Commemoration through Food: Obits Celebrated by the Franciscan Nuns of Late Medieval Strasbourg
Dr. Charlotte A. Stanford, Brigham Young University

Memorializing the Middle and Upper Classes III: Social Mobility in Bologna and Florence
Organizers Grit Heidemann, Universität der Künste Berlin; Claudia Jentzsch, Universität der Künste Berlin
Chair Anne Leader, The Italian Art Society

Tombs and the Imago doctoris in cathedra in Northern Italy (1300-1380)
Dr. Ruth Wolff, Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

A Reconsideration of Bardi Patronage between Santa Croce and Santa Maria Novella in Florence
Damien Cerutti, Université de Lausanne

Memorializing the Individual in Renaissance Florence: the terraverde cycle in Palazzo Rucellai
Katherine Stahlbuhk, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz MPG / Universität Hamburg

Memorializing the Middle and Upper Classes IV: Social Climbers and Decliners, Naples, Rome, Venice
Organizers Grit Heidemann, Universität der Künste Berlin; Claudia Jentzsch, Universität der Künste Berlin
Chair Tanja Michalsky, Universität der Künste Berlin

Between Distinctive Representation and Local Tradition - The Cappella d'Alessandro in Santa Maria di Monteoliveto, Naples
Grit Heidemann, Universität der Künste Berlin

Beyond Michelangelo's Monument for Pope Julius II - Tombs and burials in San Pietro in Vincoli
Anett Ladegast, Humboldt-Universität Berlin

Social Mobility and Commemoration in Seventeenth-Century Venetian Funerary Monuments
Meredith Crosbie, University of St. Andrews

Registration: Participants on the program must register by 15 November. All others may register up until the conference date, though registration rates will increase after the initial registration deadline.


Call For Papers: 'An Honourable Death' - a doctoral and ECR conference

Date Saturday 9 May 2015
Venue Birkbeck, University of London
Call for paper deadline Friday 12 December 2014
Website http://birkbeckhistoryphd.org/2014/10/23/call-for-papers-an-honourable-death/

"... if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live"
(Martin Luther King, 23 June 1963, Speech at the Great March on Detroit)

This one day multi-disciplinary conference explores where and when a positive value has been placed on dying and death. How and why are certain ways of dying admired or even desired? In the name of religion, ideology, nation or emotion, some people have accepted or even sought death. In some instances, the ultimate sacrifice of life is thought to serve the greater social good; such deaths may be seen as honourable, noble and altruistic. Yet placing a positive value on death can be deeply problematic; these deaths are also condemned and regretted. This conference explores the many ways honourable deaths may be lamented, deplored, praised or embraced.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute long papers from doctoral candidates and early career researchers on any aspect of this broad topic and covering any geographical area and period. Proposals for papers might include (but are not limited to) case studies and/or explorations of:
  • What types of death are (or have been) given positive value? In what does their merit lie? Who determines this value and how? Examples might include dying in war; religious martyrdom, deaths in civil and human rights protests; just war; memorials to the dead - literary, physical, ceremonial etc.;
  • How and why have ideas about what constitutes a worthy death changed? What do these deaths tell us about the relationship between the social and the personal? Examples might include 'noble' Roman suicide, Japanese ritual suicide; sacrificial death; duelling;
  • How has the notion of honourable death been used and abused, for example, in the case of 'honour' killing?
We welcome proposals from all relevant academic disciplines, which may include History, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Psychology and Psychosocial Studies, Philosophy, Politics, Literature Studies, History of Art, Classical Studies.

If you would like to present a paper, please submit an abstract (max. 500 words) along with a paragraph (max. 200 words) which outlines your institution, the academic discipline in which you are researching and your main doctoral/ research project.

Send your proposals by Friday 12 December 2014. (For contact details, please consult the PDF version of MMR issue 14.) We will inform you if your paper has been accepted by Friday 23 January 2015.

Sue Blunn and Guy Beckett, Co-Conveners
Birkbeck, University of London


Call For Papers: 'Sister Act: Female Monasticism and the Arts across Europe ca. 1250 -1550'

Date 13-14 March 2015
Location London, The Courtauld Institute of Art
Call for paper deadline 10 December 2014
Keynote speaker Professor Dr. Carola Jäggi, University of Zürich (CH)

This conference seeks to compare, contrast and juxtapose scholarly approaches to the art of Medieval and Renaissance religious women that have emerged in recent decades. Seeking to initiate a broader conversation, which is long overdue, we invite papers that examine female monastic art in terms of patronage, space, devotional practice, spiritual identity or material history, spanning all of Europe and bridging the gap between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Over the last three decades, within a broader scholarly effort to recover women's history, art historians have explored the role of gender in the form, function and patronage of monastic art and architecture. It has become evident that the institutionalisation of late medieval and renaissance religious women developed under very different conditions from that of their male counterparts. Monastic foundations for women are repeatedly revealed as having been idiosyncratic, rarely adhering to a set of norms. There are many examples of stable and flourishing institutions performing functions of dynastic memoria for wealthy, aristocratic or royal families. Equally, female convents could be fluid and metamorphic during the course of their history: many instances demonstrate shifting ecclesiastical allegiances, mutable types of monastic life, movement between patrons, and even communities changing order. Such varied historical circumstances shaped the architecture for female religious communities, ranging from large complexes erected in the most fashionable styles of their time, to basic dwellings within converted secular buildings. Diversity can also be observed in the commissioning and use of works of art, from second-hand or adapted paintings to specially commissioned, lavish monuments and vast cycles of wall paintings. In short, artworks in the female religious context escape generalisation.

Idiosyncrasies are found not only when investigating the female monastic complex and its art, but also in the scholarship itself, which has primarily focused on chronologically and geographically specific material, often without engaging in dialogue with adjacent fields.

North of the Alps, scholars tend to gravitate towards the rich Cistercian and Dominican material, and to concentrate on the interplay between visual culture and devotional practice. The 2005 exhibition 'Krone und Schleier: Kunst aus mittelalterlichen Frauenklöstern', and the accompanying conference, bore witness to the vibrant wealth of artworks preserved in the German-speaking areas of Europe, and should foster scholarly exchange with other European regions.

On the Italian peninsula, the patchy archival record and damage to physical convent spaces has led to a proliferation of case studies. Renaissance and early modern scholarship has also focused on biographies of individual nuns or specific convent chronicles as means of investigating nunneries within the urban fabric of the Italian city-states from a socio-economic perspective.

Meanwhile, the abundance of surviving artistic material in Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe has recently started to receive attention. The art of women who lived in a semi-religious context, such as tertiaries, widows, anchoresses and beguines, has also been brought to the fore. This abundance of recent work now invites comparison and wider interpretation.

We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers exploring material across the stated time span, in all artistic media and throughout Europe, that deal with either case studies or broader methodological questions. Papers, which take a comparative approach, breaking the traditional regional or chronological boundaries, are particularly welcome. We intend to arrange the papers into panels that present contrasting approaches and/or differing time periods or places, to stimulate comparative discussion.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:
  • The topography of female religious settlements (e.g. within a city or a region)
  • Female monastic architectural space (social aspects, interaction, hierarchies etc.)
  • The commemorative function of art and architecture in female religious communities
  • The relationship between lay patrons and female religious communities
  • Artworks and liturgical/devotional practice
  • Religious women as artistic practitioners
  • Second-hand or relocated artworks
  • The importance of written sources (chronicles, regulations, etc.) for understanding the artistic choices of religious women
  • Comparisons between the art of female and male communities
  • Artworks for female tertiaries and other semi-monastic groups, comparisons with the art of their second order counterparts
  • Patronage networks between individual patrons and/or female religious communities
  • Representing collective and individual identity
  • The influence of female monastic art beyond the nunnery
Please send your abstracts of 250 - 300 words and a short biography of 100 words to Laura Llewellyn and Michaela Zöschg (for contact details, please consult the PDF version of MMR issue 14) by 10 December 2014 at the latest.

Unfortunately, we cannot offer travel subsidies. Applicants from outside London are therefore encouraged to apply to other funding bodies for travel bursaries to attend the conference.

Organised by Laura Llewellyn and Michaela Zöschg (The Courtauld Institute of Art)


Conference review: Commemoration of the Dead: new approaches, new perspectives, new material

One-day conference, Institute of Historical Research, London, Saturday 15th November 2014

There was a packed conference room in the newly-refurbished Institute of Historical Research at Senate House, as eager members of the Church Monuments and Monumental Brass Societies gathered to hear about new approaches to incised brass memorials. As a sequel of sorts to a conference reconsidering approaches to funerary monuments on the half-centenary of Panofsky's Tomb Sculpture held at the Courtauld Institute in July, the stakes were high for a day on one of the potentially less-colourful genres of late medieval art production. However, the conference proved that brasses could also produce many novel and intellectually profitable methodologies, rather than inward-looking and basically descriptive case studies.

Richard Marks ('Brass and Glass': the medieval tomb-window) began the day with some pearls he had discovered in his relentless trawling of late medieval parochial wills, and that "brass and glass" was more than just a rhyme: many church windows acted as surrogate funerary monuments. Without the wills, there would be no way of knowing that the fragments of stained glass were patronised by the memorialised person under our feet. The use of documents to consider individual agency was also explored by Jessica Knowles on All Saints North Street in York ('Controlling the Past': the Medieval Brasses of All Saints North Street, York), and at the end of the day by Christian Steer on the brasses in the lost London convent of the Friars Minor ('A Melting Pot of Death': Burials and Brasses in the London Grey Friars). This veritable carpet of memory raised the intriguing questions of why the Franciscans were so popular among well-to-do Londoners, and how the friars themselves - supposedly unable to own property - bought their own brasses.

The idea of the importance of patrons' agency in the design of memorials was raised in the paper by Matthew Ward discussing Chellaston alabaster workshops (Late Medieval Style: the Role of Agency and the Workshop). Michael Carter then showed how an alleged London Type-B brass in Fountains Abbey was almost certainly later than the usual timespan of that workshop; instead the evidence of the iconographical motif of raising a mitre to show off a cleric's doctoral credentials gave us the identity of the commemorated abbot (The Mysterious Mitre on the Monument). Looking outside of the constraints of the medium continued: Harriette Peel (Women, Children and Guardian Angeles in Late Medieval Flemish Funerary Art) also used novel iconographical analysis to show that a Flemish brass commemorating a young girl may be making appeal to female hagiography through its inclusion of a guardian angel. Sanne Frequin brought colour to proceedings with some technical findings of the polychromy of Tournai Marble monuments: supposedly a "pure" medium like brass (Tournai Stone: an investigation of materiality).

It is often forgotten that England, with its religious rather than social revolution, has a much richer corpus of funerary monuments than much of Europe. Ann Adams used the English corpus of tomb chest-top brasses to creatively illuminate the apparently peculiar choice of the genre over sculpted effigies by some Flemish nobles ('Revealed and Concealed': Monumental Brasses on Tomb Chests - the examples of John I, Duke of Cleves and Catherine of Bourbon). Robert Marcoux (The social Meaning and Artistic Potential of a Medium: Brass and the Medieval Tombs of the Gaignières Collection) reminded us of the importance of the Gaignières collection in the absence of the physical objects, and demonstrated its statistical potential in mapping aesthetic tastes over time. The varied papers, coupled with a lively, knowledgeable and generous audience, made for a day that proved that the humble brass lurking under the carpet in many a parish church can prove a lucrative genre for the modern art historian's inquiry.

James Cameron
Courtauld Institute of Art


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