Murray Seminars Autumn Term 2019

Welcome to the new academic year! We’re pleased to announce the details of this term’s Murray Seminars on Medieval and Renaissance Art at Birkbeck.  You’ll find a poster attached, which we hope will be of interest to you and your colleagues or students.  I’d be most grateful if you could display it on any noticeboards, or circulate it to any forums where you think it would be of interest.

Seminars take place at 5pm in the History of Art Department (43, Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0PD) in The Keynes Library (Room 114), unless stated otherwise.  Talks finish by 5.50pm to allow those with other commitments to leave, and are then followed by discussion and refreshments.  These talks are supported by the Murray Bequest in memory of the Department’s founder Peter Murray, and are open to all. No booking required.

This term’s papers are as follows;

Petr Uličný, 16th October, 5pm

The Origins of Renaissance Architecture in Bohemia

This seminar considers the leisure architecture of Central Europe in the Renaissance. He explores how two kings of Bohemia, Mathias Corvinus and Vladislaus Jagiello, hired foreign architects to bring the fashion for Renaissance architecture to central Europe. The Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand I, continued to do the same. As a result, palaces in Prague and Kutná Hora were built or ‘updated’ in styles which could be decades-old in their native Italy, but entirely novel in their new surroundings.

Michael Carter, 12th November, 5pm

Relics and monastic identity in late medieval England

Michael Carter, Senior Historian at English Heritage, analyses the importance of relics in the construction of monastic identities in late medieval England. Focussing on two Benedictine (Battle and Whitby) and two Cistercian (Hailes and Rievaulx) abbeys. He suggests that monasteries used relics to promote and sustain their wider religious role until the time of the Suppression, and that relics were also used to affirm relations between religious houses. The paper will also give an idea of the broad range of sources available for the study of the cult of relics at English monasteries, and show that significant material remains unexplored or capable of reinterpretation

Laura Jacobus, 4th December, 5pm

Faces and Enigmas: maker-portraits by Giotto and Giovanni Pisano

During the later middle ages, the questions ‘who makes an art-work?’ and ‘what is a portrait?’ had no simple answers.  The person who commissioned a work of art could be seen as the person responsible for its creation, and the person we call the artist could be regarded as just one of the means employed to make it. The word ‘portrait’ was not in use (at least not in its modern sense), and images of people were not expected to look like anyone recognisable. Giotto and Giovanni Pisano were two of the most famous artists working in Italy in the years around 1300 and they wanted recognition in every sense of the word. But how?

We look forward to seeing you,

The History of Art Department, Birkbeck