Monthly Archives: October 2015

ARTES Coll & Cortes 2015 Travel Scholarship report

Maeve O’Donnell, PhD candidate, Courtauld Institute of Art, reports on her travels sponsored by this scholarship

11738044_10104134174208549_4216571105197211521_nThe ARTES Coll y Cortes Travel Scholarship allowed me to complete archival research central to my doctoral thesis. Textual sources have been indispensable to my investigation into thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Castilian altars because many of these altars and their furnishings have been lost or disassembled. By carefully combing through primary sources — many of which have not been published in full and are hidden away in cathedral archives — I have been able to reconstruct a detailed picture of the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century altar from this kingdom. Inventories, wills, receipts, statutes, and letters both describe the objects that made up the altar at this time and point to its various usages. More than a liturgical focal point, altars were sites for the expression of the surrounding communities’ identities. This identity was reflected, for instance, by personal items bequeathed to the altar or through furnishings ornamented with political or royal symbols.

In early 2015, I spent several weeks in the archives of Burgos and Toledo cathedrals. Although I P1030659was able to find useful primary documents at these sites, my thesis would not have properly represented Castilian medieval art without close investigation into Seville cathedral’s thirteenth- and fourteenth-century altars. The ARTES Coll y Cortes Travel Scholarship allowed me to spend three weeks researching in the archive of Seville cathedral. It was especially useful to spend time looking through early modern collections of cathedral statutes in which medieval regulations are cited. The Estatutos y Constituciones de la Santa Iglesia de Sevilla, for instance, contained notes in its margins that identified the medieval sources of some of its entries. Viewing this source firsthand has allowed me to engage more critically with its usage in current scholarship. It was similarly of value to my project to read through a late fourteenth-century set of regulations for the cathedral’s original royal chapel, which described the ceremonies performed around the altar of this important royal tomb. It was also very instructive to conduct this archival research while regularly visiting the cathedral’s works of art. For instance, a striking reliquary cross in the cathedral’s collection has often been connected to documents in the archive that seem to allude to it. Reading through such documents and then visiting the work in person allowed me to appreciate the problems set forth by these textual sources.

A 090Without the help of this travel scholarship, my dissertation would have been limited to northern and central Castile and would have fallen short of capturing the full range of cultural and artistic transformations taking place in this kingdom during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. By comparing extant objects with contemporary descriptions found in documents from the archive of Seville cathedral, my PhD project will provide a comprehensive picture of the medieval Castilian altar and its furnishings so far missing in scholarship on medieval Iberian art.


ARTES Coll & Cortes 2015 PhD scholarship report. ‘The Apocalypse in early medieval Iberia: the function and impact of the illuminated “Beatus” ‘

A report by Ana de Oliveira Dias, PhD candidate at Durham University, on the research she is conducting with the help of her scholarship

My Ph.D focuses on the illustrated copies of Beatus of Liébana’s In Apocalypsin, generally known as the Hispanic ‘Beatus’. Alongside Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae, Beatus’s Commentary is regarded as a fundamental work of medieval Iberia, testified by its wide and continuous dissemination in this context, from the eighth to the thirteenth century.

The New Jerusalem, Beato de Liébana, Commentarium in Apocalipsin, (codex of Fernando I and Doña Sancha), Biblioteca Nacional de España VITR./14/2/, f. 253v.

The New Jerusalem, Beato de Liébana, Commentarium in Apocalipsin, (codex of Fernando I and Doña Sancha), Biblioteca Nacional de España VITR./14/2/, f. 253v.

As well as being amongst the greatest Hispanic bibliographic treasures, the ‘Beatus’ are similarly considered to be one of the most lavishly illuminated bodies of manuscripts in the western world. My project is an ambitious and rigorous re-examination of this corpus in its historical, religious and cultural context, investigating both the production and reception of these manuscripts. Building on this solid contextualisation, my research addresses the challenging questions of the purposes and impact of the ‘Beatus’ as an illustrated text, and aims to understand how scribes, miniaturists, and readers, may have interpreted them. Hence, this analysis will provide insight into how these remarkable books may have been used more generally, and by extension, will also shed light on the impact of the Apocalypse in medieval Iberia.

I am currently starting the second year of my Ph.D in Durham University, with the sponsorship of ARTES Coll & Cortés Ph.D Scholarship. During my first year of research, I focused on the contextual aspects of the ‘Beatus’. I considered these manuscripts against the general panorama of illustrated Apocalypses, and have examined their origins, particularities, and relevance as one of the most complete Apocalypse pictorial cycles. I have also explored the context of book production in early medieval Iberia. A closer look at monastic literary culture, and library holdings, was a fundamental part of my research, which has enabled me to grasp better the significance of the ‘Beatus’ in this specific milieu, and to understand which other authors and texts were prominent for Iberian monasticism. I have also conducted primary source analysis. The study of the ‘Beatus’s colophons was the starting point, as these remarkable textual inscriptions, of unusual length and content, offer a glimpse into scribal and scriptoria practices in medieval Iberia. Most importantly, they provide precious information concerning the role of these manuscripts, and how scribes envisaged their production processes as important acts of devotion. The results of this analysis will be integrated into a chapter of my dissertation on the significance of the ‘Beatus’ in the landscape of medieval Iberian monastic culture.

The Seven angels empty the vials, Beato de Liébana, Commentarium in Apocalipsin, (codex of Fernando I and Doña Sancha), Biblioteca Nacional de España VITR./14/2/, f. 213r

The Seven angels empty the vials, Beato de Liébana, Commentarium in Apocalipsin, (codex of Fernando I and Doña Sancha), Biblioteca Nacional de España VITR./14/2/, f. 213r

I have also focused on the textual analysis of Beatus of Liébana’s In Apocalypsin. One of my main goals in engaging with a work of such rich symbolism, has been to understand how its readers may have conceptualised and interpreted the Book of Revelation, and how this may have shaped their mentality and ‘imagination’. This analysis has been conducted in parallel with an examination of the Beatus’s iconographic programme, so as to observe how these images relate, on a primary level, to both the Scriptures and the Commentary. To assess the most suitable copies for this research, I concluded my first year with the study of the Beatus families, in order to comprehend the intricate textual and iconographic kinship between these manuscripts, which has been under discussion for many decades, chiefly in works by Neuss and Sanders (1931), Klein (1976), and Williams (1994).

By and large, my first year of research was dedicated to fundamental contextual work, which has given me a solid foundation concerning the cultural and spiritual setting in which the Hispanic ‘Beatus’ were produced. Building on this knowledge, my second year will begin with a thorough and systematic analysis of the Beatus’s visual imagery, focusing on the role of symbols and allegory in these representations, so as to elucidate the possible function and meaning of these remarkable illustrated manuscripts.





The National Gallery, Sainsbury Wing Theatre

Lunchtime Talks – Free, no booking
Courses – £14/£12 concession/£10 members

October-December 2015



Francisco de Goya, The Duchess of Alba (detail), 1797. © Courtesy of The Hispanic Society of America, New York

Lunchtime talk
Thursday 29 October 
Goya & the Duchess of Alba
Marcus B. Burke
Senior Curator, Museum Department, The Hispanic Society of America, New York


Course (Sainsbury Wing Theatre)
Thursday 12 November

Fashioning identity
Tutor: Aileen Ribeiro
£14/£12 concessions/£10 members
Professor Aileen Ribeiro of the Courtauld Institute of Art explores themes of costume and national identity in Spain, England and France during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.


Lunchtime talk
Monday 16 November
The Altamira Family, Goya and Portraiture
Xavier Salomon
Chief curator, The Frick Collection, New York

Study day
Saturday 21 November
Sainsbury Wing Theatre
Subversive portraits: Goya and his legacy
Speakers: Juliet Wilson Bareau, Emma Barker, Xavier Bray, Gill Perry and Yinka Shonibare
£25/£14 concessions/£10 members and OU students
Explore portraits by Goya and other artists in the context of Napoleonic Europe, and discover why Goya has been such a key figure for modern and contemporary artists from Manet to Jake and Dinos Chapman. Held in collaboration with the Open University.

Lunchtime talk
Monday 30 November
Public faces, private views: Goya’s letters and the problem of portraiture
Sarah Symmons
Visiting Fellow, University of Essex


Monday 7 December
Goya’s patron: Manuel Godoy
Isadora Rose-de Viejo

Monday 21 December
Painted Cloth: Goya and Dress
Jacqui Ansell

The British Spanish Society Event – Emerging from the Shadows – Centenary Concert & Goya Presentation by Coro Cervantes & Dr Jacqueline Cockburn – St James’s Church, London W1U 3QY – Wed 18 November 2015 – 7.00 for 7.30pm


A British Spanish Society Event 

Wednesday 18th November 2015

“Emerging from the Shadows” Centenary Concert and Goya Presentation by Coro Cervantes and Dr Jacqueline Cockburn

St James’s Roman Catholic Church  Spanish Place, 22 George St, London W1U 3QY

7.00pm for 7.30pm performance 

As “Goya: The Portraits” opens at the National Gallery, the British-Spanish Society centenary events commence with our annual concert by the Coro Cervantes and illustrated Goya presentation by Dr Jacqueline Cockburn, once again at St James’s RC Church, Marylebone.

Event: Choral concert by Coro Cervantes and illustrated Goya presentation by Dr Jacqueline Cockburn, followed by food and drinks reception in the crypt.

Venue: St James’s Roman Catholic Church, Spanish Place, Marylebone W1U 3QY.

Tickets – which include food and drink reception
Goya Centenary Concert – Ticket BSS Member £22
Goya Centenary Concert – Ticket BSS Non Member £29

Available directly from the BSS booking page at:
British Spanish Society Booking Page – Centenary Concert & Goya Presentation



Coro Cervantes returning by popular demand to perform for the Society once again, Coro Cervantes are the UK’s only chamber choir dedicated to Hispanic and Latin America classical music, founded in 1995 by choral director Carlos Fernandez Aransay.

Francisco Jose de Goya Lucientes (1746 – 1828) much loved Spanish romantic painter and print maker, regarded as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the Moderns; our illustrated lecture will explore Goya’s life and work through his most famous self-portraits.

download (1)

Dr Jacqueline Cockburn linguist and art historian, lectured at Birbeck College for 20 years on Western European Art specialising in Spanish Art, until recently Head of Department of Art History at Westminster School and now a freelance lecturer in art.

St James’s RC Church beautiful, ornate Roman Catholic place of worship, in the English Gothic style, known for its Lady Chapel and for hosting organ recitals and religious services.

Dr Jacqueline Cockburn
“Last year’s concert and El Greco presentation was described by HE the Spanish Ambassador as, “the most enjoyable evening I have spent in London.” Please book your tickets online and join us for what promises to be memorable event to launch the Society’s Centenary Events Programme”

Why not join the BSS membership today? You can find an application form on the BSS Membership Page


Conference – Romanesque Art: Saints, Shrines and Pilgrimage – 4-6 April 2016 – Oxford

The British Archeological Society Conference

4-6 April 2016, Rewley House, Oxford

Romanesque Art: Saints, Shrines and Pilgrimage

A Three-Day International Conference concerned with the material culture of sanctity to be held in Oxford. There will also be an opportunity to stay on for a further two days of visits

The British Archaeological Association will hold the fourth of its biennial International Romanesque conference series in Oxford on 4-6 April, 2016. The theme is Romanesque: Saints, Shrines and Pilgrimage, and the intention is to examine the material culture of sanctity over the period c.1000-c.1250. The Conference will be held at Rewley House in Oxford, with the opportunity to stay on for two days of visits to Romanesque buildings on 7-8 April.

The papers fall into three broad categories: the geography of sanctity – more specifically the construction of architectural settings for the display of relics, along with the corresponding spatial, scenographic and mnemonic arrangements devised for pilgrims, for the most part at individual sites; cults and reliquaries – considerations of the ways in which reliquaries helped to define a cult, and how they might be designed to draw attention to the particular attributes, virtues or miracle-working character of individual saints; visual hagiography – the public representation of sainthood, how and where this is found, and how and why this changed over the late 11th and 12th centuries.

Speakers include Javier Martinez de Aguirre, Claude Andrault-Schmitt, Mañuel Castiñeiras, John Crook, Gaetano Curzi, Øystein Ekroll, Meredith Fluke, Barbara Franzé, Richard Gem, Deborah Kahn, Jeremy Knight, Ryan Lash, Nathalie Le Luel, Gerhard Lutz, John McNeill, Montserrat Pages, Marta Poza Yagüe, Arturo Carlo Quintavalle, Neil Stratford, Béla Zsolt Szakács, Elizabeth Valdez del Álamo, Michele Vescovi, Rose Walker, Tomasz Weclawowicz and Susanne Wittekind.


The conference will open at 09.30 on Monday, 4 April with lectures in the main auditorium at Rewley House (corner of Wellington Square and St John’s Street, Oxford). Teas, coffees and lunches will be provided on all three days, and there will be dinners in Oxford college halls on the Monday and Wednesday.


There will be an opportunity to stay on for two days of visits to Romanesque buildings on 7-8 April, including Malmesbury and Tewkesbury Abbeys, Old Sarum, Iffley, Kempley and Gloucester Cathedral.


These are available to download from the BAA website here.


A limited number of scholarships for students are available to cover the cost of the conference. Please apply by 30 November 2015, attaching a short CV along with the name and contact details of one referee. Applications should be sent to either of the conference convenors;

The conference welcomes professional and amateur enthusiasts equally.


Call for Papers: Spain and Orientalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – Association of Art Historians conference (Edinburgh, 7-9 April 2016)

Jones - AlhambraSpain represents a unique and fertile context in which to explore attitudes to the art and culture of the Islamic world. Spain was routinely ‘orientalised’ by northern European cultures in the 19th century, as foreign visitors indulged in oriental reveries when reflecting on Spain’s Islamic past (711–1492) and admiring its ‘Moorish’ remains at the Alhambra palace in Granada, the mosque/cathedral in Cordoba, or the Giralda in Seville. For the Spaniard, however, this Islamic heritage raised potentially disorientating questions about cultural roots and national identity. Spanish attitudes to the Islamic past were further complicated by Spain’s ambivalent relations with the Islamic present in Morocco, ranging from war and conflict (1859–60) to Franco’s recruitment of Moroccans at the start of the Spanish Civil War.

This session builds on recent research by historians of art, literature and culture, whose work has revealed that the European discourse on the Islamic world is much more polyphonic than traditional postcolonial theory assumed. The session invites papers that examine 19th- and 20-century visual responses to Spain’s Islamic past and Spain’s nearest ‘Orient’, Morocco, by both Spanish and non-Spanish artists across all media (architecture, fine art, illustrated books, photography, film, fashion etc.). How did artists translate Spain’s Islamic world into visual formats? How was such imagery produced, viewed, and marketed? What were the artistic, ideological, political, and social positions on which visual responses were grounded? How important were they in the formation of broader attitudes to the Islamic world?

Email proposals for papers to the convenors Claudia Hopkins and Anna McSweeney by 9 November 2015. You can download a paper proposal form at