NATURE AND DREAM: STUDIES ON THE REPRESENTATION OF REALITY IN THE MIDDLE AGES
October 7th, 2017
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
1. NUME Research Grouporganizes a roundtable titled Nature and Dream: Studies on the representation of reality in the Middle Ages.
2. The roundtable will focus on the medieval category of reality, with particular attention to the relationship between nature and other worlds, such as the dream, the miracle, the legend, the epic. We welcome studies addressing the problem of mental representation of the real in philosophical, literary and artistic fields, as well as the impact this representation has on specific aspects of European medieval culture.
3. The roundtable will take place at the offices of NUME Research Group (via Landino, 2 – Florence, Italy) or, in case of a significant number of participants, at another venue to be defined. The event will be on October 7th.
4. We anticipate contributors giving papers of 30 minutes. Please submit proposed titles and abstracts of 300 words (in english or italian), with a short academic biography, by August 31st to:
[via Classics at Oxford] The Gospels of Abba Garima have remained hidden for centuries in the Ethiopian highlands in the Abba Garima Monastery – which no woman may enter. According to tradition, God miraculously stopped the sun in the sky to allow Saint Abba Garima to complete them in a single day. Translated from Greek into Ethiopic, their production has remained an enigma. They are the earliest testament of the lost art of the Christian Aksumite kingdom of Ethiopia, which flourished around AD 350–650. Their vivid, finely painted illuminations are at once familiar but also entirely exotic, combining Ethiopian features with those seen elsewhere in Christendom. For the first time, a photo-exhibition in Oxfordpresents to the public all of the illuminated pages of these remarkable books, which are amongst the earliest and most important of the rare illustrated gospels books to have survived from Antiquity.
The three Garima Gospels, as the earliest surviving Ethiopian gospel books, are the earliest record of the translations of the Greek text of the four gospels into Ge‘ez, the language of the Ethiopian Church. They include the oldest extant set of portraits of the evangelists as frontispieces to their respective gospels, which became the norm in later illuminated gospel books. Like most gospel manuscripts, the Garima Gospels have ornately decorated “canon tables” which function as concordances of the different versions of the same material in the gospels. They also contain a unique image of the Jerusalem Temple, while an Alexandrian circular pavilion provides a missing link between pagan Hellenistic and Roman versions of the motif and later Christian ones. The Garima Gospels provide glimpses of lost late antique luxury gospel books and art in Ethiopia, as well as in the Christian East. Their artwork is closely related to Syriac, Armenian, Greek, and Georgian gospel books and to the art of late antique (“Coptic”) Egypt, Nubia, and Himyar (Yemen). The Garima texts and decoration demonstrate how a distinctive Christian culture developed in Aksumite Ethiopia, while also belonging to the mainstream late antique Mediterranean world.
The exhibition – extended to April 12 – accompanies the publication of The Garima Gospels: Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia, by Judith McKenzie, Francis Watson, Michael Gervers, et al., which places the Garima Gospels firmly within the historical and artistic contexts of the late antique Mediterranean world.
Organised by Judith McKenzie, Miranda Williams, and Foteini Spingou, with Michael Gervers’ photographs.
Sponsored by the Classics Faculty, the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research, and the ERC Advanced Project, Monumental Art of the Christian and Early Islamic East, directed by Judith McKenzie.
The first 100 manuscripts in the “Polonsky Foundation England and France Project” are now available for online viewing. A full list of the digitised manuscripts with links to the viewer can be found on the British Library’s Manuscripts blog here: 100 MSS Online.
The project is a joint effort between the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France to make available over 800 manuscripts decorated before the year 1200. These manuscripts cover a wide variety of topics and images from the Project’s focus of AD 700–1200 (you can read more about the Project or listen to the French interview of Matthieu Bonicel, Head of Innovation at the BnF). Some of the highlights include lavishly illuminated Gospels, like the Préaux Gospels from early 12th-century Normandy, with its amazing miniatures of the Evangelists and luxurious canon tables.
LOS ANGELES – The arts and culture of the Middle Ages were the inheritors of a rich classical tradition. For more than a millennium following the fall of Rome, antiquity was evoked and preserved through visual arts, ceremony, and manuscript culture. Remembering Antiquity: The Ancient World Through Medieval Eyes, on view January 24 through May 28 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, explores the constant and varied engagement of medieval people with the classical past.
“After the fall of the Roman Empire and the Christianization of Europe, many of the great works of Greek and Latin literature were copied by scribes in monasteries of centers of learning, preserving them for posterity and forming the foundation of medieval scholarship,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “While the rediscovery of Greco-Roman art and literature has come to be associated with the Renaissance in Italy from about 1400 through the 1500s, antiquity was in fact studied and commemorated throughout the preceding Middle Ages. In many ways the classical world never really died, but just receded under layers of subsequent culture. For authors and artists alike, the process of historical remembering in the centuries before the Renaissance often involved embellishment or invention, as stories of ancient rulers and mythological heroes were frequently employed and adapted for inclusion in Christian texts.”
Bringing together objects from the Getty Museum’s antiquities collection with works from the manuscripts collection, the exhibition is divided into three sections. Section one explores the fluidity of artistic forms across antiquity and the Middle Ages. The second focuses on the classical knowledge base that was preserved by and transmitted through the work of medieval scribes and artisans. The last section explores medieval understanding of, and approaches to, the past.
The Language of Forms
“Whether through quotation, emulation, transformation, or invention, the medieval world drew upon the classical, exploiting its expressive visual language,” explains Kristen Collins, co-curator of the exhibition. The styles and motifs of classical art provided a rich vocabulary for medieval artists and patrons. The formal characteristics of ancient Latin script were often employed to imbue religious texts with the authority of imperial Rome. Winged victories, as shown in Earrings with Nike (225-175 BC), were supernatural beings in ancient art. The personification of victory—known as Nike to the Greeks, Victoria to the Romans—was among the most frequently depicted, appearing in a variety of media and contexts. With the transition of the pagan world to the Christian, the goddess was adapted and transformed, into both an angel and a pagan idol. At times both depictions appear together in the same object.
Transmission of Knowledge
The study of medicine, drawn largely from classical sources, flourished in medieval universities. Latin translations of Greek and Arabic commentaries on other ancient medical texts shaped the discipline throughout the Middle Ages. Medieval physicians saw the body as a microcosm of the physical universe. Their practice sought to counteract imbalances in the four “humors” caused by natural phenomena such as the position of celestial bodies, the earth’s climate, and the ocean’s tides.
History and Invention
“During the Middle Ages, history was seen as the unfolding of God’s will over time, and great effort was made to align ancient historical accounts with the Bible,” says Kenneth Lapatin, co-curator of the exhibition. “Medieval authors mined classical texts, which were seen not only as essential documents of the past but also as ideal tools for learning the grammar and rhetoric of Latin.”
In their compendia of classical lore, medieval illuminators often updated the appearances and settings of ancient figures, representing them in contemporary costumes and architectural contexts. Such artistic devices blurred the lines between antiquity and the medieval present, demonstrating how people in the Middle Ages viewed their culture as an outgrowth of the Greco-Roman past. Within a single illuminated letter “P” (about 1300), Alexander the Great holds baited sticks as he is lifted heavenward by two griffins – ferocious composite creatures, part eagle and part lion. While the author of the accompanying text omitted this fantastical episode from the Alexander legend, the artist drew upon an established visual tradition.
Remembering Antiquity: The Ancient World Through Medieval Eyes will be on view January 24 –May 21, 2017, at the J. Paul Getty Museum. The exhibition is curated by Kristen Collins, curator of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Kenneth Lapatin, curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, and former curatorial assistant in Manuscripts, Rheagan Martin. Related programming will include gallery talks and more. Additional information can be found at getty.edu/360.
### The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades.
The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum’s mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.
Visiting the Getty Center
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A powerful 6.5-magnitude earthquake striked central Italy on Sunday morning, the strongest tremor to hit the country since 1980. Numerous buildings have collapsed, among them the ancient basilica of San Benedetto in Norcia, Umbria.
The current monastery was physically located above the 5th century ruins of the house of St. Benedict and his twin sister St. Scholastica, and has been the location of monastic communities since the tenth century AD.
The façade, the side portal and the lower bell tower dated from the late 14th century, and is the only part of the church that survived collapse. In 1570 a portico (Portico delle Misure) was added to the right side, by will of the commune and the ecclesiastical authorities, to act as covered cereals market, this also collapsed. On the side, near the transept, was a spur with a niche housing a Madonna with Child from a local, late-Gothic painter.
The basilica had a Latin cross plan, with a single nave. The apse and the internal dome at the transept dated from the 18th century reconstruction only the 14th-century triumphal arch, restored in the 1950s, remained from the original Gothic nave.
Below are some dramatic images of the church as it was before the quake and now, after collapse. (further updates coming up)
The Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain is collaborating with the Real Academia Gallega de Bellas Artes and the Fundación Catedral de Santiago to present an exhibition on Master Mateo and his work for the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The exposition “Master Mateo” will be running in Prado starting on November 29 to March 26, 2017.
For the first time, a selection of sculptures, normally housed in the Cathedral in Santiago outside the Porch of Glory and in various other institutions and collections, brings together works by this artist that were part of now lost groups or from parts of the cathedral that no longer exist, such as its medieval façade and the stone choir that occupied the nave.
Master Mateo (c. 1150 – c. 1200 or c. 1217) was a sculptor and architect who worked in medieval Christian kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula during the second half of the twelfth century. He is best known now for the Pórtico de la Gloria of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. He was also responsible for the stone choir of the cathedral in 1200, later torn down in 1603.
The earliest information about the artist is from an 1168 document in the archives of the cathedral of Santiago, which says that the Master was already working on the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, for which he received a large sum of money from King Ferdinand II of León. Very little information remains about his early training, but everything seems to imply that he already had a long career behind him all along the Way of Santiago, especially in the French sections.
The natural sized sculptures highlights of the upcoming exposition are divided between public and private institutions: two of which can be found at the Pontevedra Provincial Museum, a further two at the Cathedral Foundation and another three are in the hands of private collectors. These pieces include David and Salomon, which can be seen on the Obradoiro façade; Abraham and Isaac, from a private collection; and Enoch and Elijah housed in the Pontevedra Museum, dating from 1188 and 1211.
A new earthquake strikes Central Italy. On Wednesday, October 26th 2016, some minutes after 7pm, two tremors reported 5.5 and 6.1 magnitude caused major damages and building collapses in Umbria ad Marche, but luckily no victims.
The beautiful medieval church of St. Salvatore di Campi di Norcia, Umbria, almost completely collapsed. Below are some dramatic images of the church, before and after the strikes.
The epicentres were near the village of Visso, located on the edge of the region of Marche close to the border with Umbria. Visso is just 70 kilometres (45 miles) from Amatrice, striked by a powerful earthquake last August, and also not far from L’Aquila where another tremendous event killed more than 300 in 2009.