The Public Statues and Sculpture Association (PSSA) is hosting an online lecture on the seventeenth-century Seville sculptor Pedro Roldán and his legacy as a master, discussing the work of some of his pupils, including of course his daughter Luisa, to be given by Cathy Hall van den Elsen on Tuesday 22 November at 7.30 pm.
In 2021 I was awarded an ARTES-CEEH Travel Scholarship for the project “My darling, fly thou: New iconography of the Song of Songs in Iberian medieval sculpture”. Unfortunately, Covid forced me to delay my research and I was unable to pursue my work until this Autumn. In fact, I am currently at the British Library writing this report, surrounded by books dedicated to the medieval exegesis of the Song of Songs while a 700-year-old Bible with exquisite illumination awaits me at the Manuscripts Room, only a few meters from where I am now.
I came to London with a hypothesis that I wanted to tackle, that is, that a group of Romanesque sculptures in Asturias and Zamora (Spain) with embracing knights and ladies could be interpreted as a representation of the Song of Songs, one of the books of the Bible that was most heavily commented on during the Middle Ages. To strengthen this hypothesis, I had another group of sculptures of victorious knights being saluted by ladies that are believed to represent Psalm 45 (Vg.44), a passage deeply related to Solomon’s Song. Both the Song of Songs, written by king Solomon, and Psalm 44, written by king David, were interpreted by medieval exegetes such as Saint Augustin or Venerable Bede as the marriage of Christ with his followers or the marriage of Christ and Church. The iconographical epitome of this symbolic wedding is the Coronation of the Virgin, a theme that would become very popular in 12th– and 13th-century Europe.
During my stay in London, I had access to the extensive collection of books held at the British Library, the Warburg Library, and the Senate House Library. Through research I was able to strengthen my hypothesis and find arguments to support my claim that the kiss carved in stone on the portal of San Pedro de Villanueva (Asturias) is a representation of the first verse of the Song of Songs “Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth” (Cant. 1:1). I was also able to study first-hand the Bible of William of Hales (MS. Royal 1 B XII), which has not yet been digitized by the British Library and has a representation of the Kiss between Christ and the Church. Furthermore, the Warburg Institute Iconographic Database allowed me to compare different representations of the Song of Songs in the history of art and I arrived at the conclusion that the carvings of knights and ladies embracing found in Villanueva, Narzana, Villamayor, Sograndio, Oviedo, Benavente, and Toro constitute an iconography partitcular to that part of Iberia. In the next days, I am planning to visit the Conway and Witt Image Libraries at the Courtauld hoping to deepen my research.
Finally, I look forward to next week, when I have been invited to present my work at the Courtauld Institute of Art where I will be giving the talk “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty”: on the sculptures of knight and ladies at Santa María la Mayor de Toro (Zamora). I am hugely grateful to ARTES and the CEEH for making this opportunity possible!
With the generosity of the ARTES-CEEH PhD Scholarship, I have made significant progress on my research, writing, as well as additional skills training. I am a second-year PhD student in the History of Art department at the University of York working under the supervision of Dr Richard McClary. My thesis is titled ‘From Umayyad Madinat al-Zahra to Almohad Seville: The Reuse of Architectural Spolia in al-Andalus during the 12th century.’ My work considers the re-use of Umayyad spolia, particularly marble capitals of the Madinat al-Zahra-type, in later imperial Almohad architecture in Seville, primarily the Giralda and Alcázar.
Since my last scholarship report, I have continued working towards compiling an annotated literature review, a digital database of the corpus of caliphal capitals, and significant portions of my thesis which have been submitted as conference papers. Thus far, I have been able to study the capitals in London (Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum), Paris (Louvre), Cordoba (Museo Arqueológico de Córdoba and the Madinat al-Zahra Museum), and in Malaga. This year, I plan to continue my field work in Madrid (Museo Arqueológico Nacional), Barcelona (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya), and at the Almohad sites in Seville (Giralda and Alcázar, as well as the regional museums). The current chapter I am working on establishes the significance of Madinat al-Zahra, both as the imperial centre in the caliphal period and in its ruined afterlife, as a repository of architectural fragments. In this chapter, I trace the development of the Madinat al-Zahra-type capital, highlighting its iconography, inscriptions, and uses. The importance of history, first in the caliphal period but especially for the Almohads who later used Córdoba as a visual and material compass in claiming political legitimacy, will be at the forefront of this project. The attitudes towards the past, feelings of nostalgia, and memory will be significant in my research.
This past year, I had the opportunity to present my work at the Association for Art History’s annual conference and the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean’s biennial conference, “Interruptions & Disruptions in the Medieval Mediterranean,” in Crete. This year I hope to present my work at the International Medieval Congress in Leeds and the postgraduate students meeting of the Ernst Herzfeld Society For Studies in Islamic Art and Archaeology. Finally, I plan to present one of my chapters at the “Islamic Art Research in Progress Seminar” which has recently launched at the University of York.
When not in the field or in the library, I spend the rest of my time on professional and skills development. I am continuing with language training in Arabic and Spanish, which will help me in accessing relevant primary texts that are significant for my research. I am also working towards the York Learning and Teaching Award (YLTA) through my work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant on the course, ‘Transmissions and Connections’. Successful completion of YLTA will award me with Associate Fellow of the HEA (AFHEA). Finally, I have been selected to serve as a Yorkshire Consortium for Equity in Doctoral Education (YCEDE) Scholars Board Member.
In conclusion, I would like to express my gratitude to ARTES and CEEH for their continuing generous support, which has provided me with the means to continue my PhD work in all its research, writing, and training aspects.
Abstract: George Vivian’s book of 29 hand-coloured lithographs of Spanish ‘scenery’ was published in London by Colnaghi in 1838. It has remained largely overlooked in the rather crowded field of illustrated accounts by nineteenth-century travellers to Spain; and Vivian himself has been overshadowed by more prolific and higher-profile contemporaries such as David Roberts. This paper takes a fresh look at Vivian’s book, which was based on two journeys to Spain in 1833 and 1837. A great deal had happened in Spain between those two visits, and among the many other questions raised by this book is the extent to which those events are reflected in it. In a word, just how scenic is Vivian’s Spanish Scenery.
About the speaker: Barry Ife is a cultural historian specialising in Spain. From 1988-2004 he was Cervantes Professor of Spanish at King’s College London and from 2004-2017 he was Principal of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he is now Research Professor. He is currently working on a book on the voice of Cervantes and is directing a project to collate all eighteenth-century manuscripts and printed witnesses of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas.
The event is organised by the Zurbarán Centre with the ARTES Iberian and Latin American Visual Culture Group.
For details on the programme, please visit the Zurbarán Centre website.
Dr Cabrera will highlight the role played by specific museums, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and by local, national and international exhibitions of the decorative arts, in disseminating knowledge about Spanish objects, historical and contemporary. In her talk, Dr Cabrera will also focus on the significant role of textiles in the history of taste and collecting in this period.
Early modern artistic literature is a crucial source for the study of art between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Treatise writers such as Vasari, Pacheco, Baldinucci, and Palomino were crucial to the construction and future interpretation of art and their texts, most of them of hagiographical nature, provide insight into early modern artistic theory and practice, while offering a glimpse of the lives and works of artists.
This session focuses instead on the readers and owners of these texts, many of whom have left annotations, scribbles, drawings, and poems on the book. Much can be learned from these comments written in the margins. For instance, the copies of Vasari’s Vite which were annotated by El Greco, Scamozzi, or Carracci, indicate how artists interpreted the text. Thus, through an interdisciplinary approach, the session seeks to deepen the study of art treatises (whether in their original language or translated) as key factors of knowledge transfer and we invite proposals that examine either manuscripts or printed books as an object, their readers in the early modern period (up to 1850), or their annotations.
If interested, please email Mario Zamora Pérez (email@example.com) and Patricia Manzano Rodríguez (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a title and abstract (250 words maximum) for a 20-minute paper, your name and institutional affiliation (if any). Please make sure the title is concise and reflects the contents of the paper because the title is what appears online, in social media and in the digital programme. You should receive an acknowledgement of receipt of your submission within two weeks.
We are pleased to announce the return of the Research Seminar Series, jointly organized by ARTES and the Zurbarán Centre (Durham University):
12 October, 6.00 PM| Dr Olga Sendra Ferrer, Material Dissidence: The Reconstruction of Democratic Citizenship under Franco’s Dictatorship.
Organised by ARTES, the Zurbarán Centre, and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture (Durham University)
26 October, 6.00 PM| Professor Richard Williams, The Politics of Public Space on São Paulo’s Big Worm. Organised by ARTES, the Zurbarán Centre, and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture (Durham University)
9 November. 6.00 PM | Professor Sir Barry Ife, George Vivian’s Spanish Scenery and the Politics of the 1830s
Organised by ARTES and the Zurbarán Centre (Durham University)
16 November, 6.00 PM | Sarah Cash, Sargent and Spain
Organised by ARTES and the Zurbarán Centre (Durham University)
30 November, Dr Francisco Montes, Female Power and Visual Culture in Viceregal America
Organised by ARTES and the Zurbarán Centre (Durham University)
With the generous support of the ARTES-CEEH PhD Scholarship, I conducted a research trip to Madrid in September 2022. This informed my work on the methods and materials of the Spanish scholar-artist Vicente Carducho (c. 1576-1638), whose Self Portrait (c.1633-38) and treatise Diálogos de la Pintura (1633) are at the core of my PhD thesis. The primary objectives of this trip were to study key works from Carducho’s oeuvre and to review the records of past technical studies of his paintings at the Museo del Prado.
Prior to visiting Madrid I had seen only a handful of paintings and drawings by Carducho, whose treatise and Self Portrait I’ve come to know well over the past few years. On this research trip I encountered dozens of his works in and around his adoptive patria, dramatically expanding my experience of studying his work in-person.
Among the many Carducho paintings I accessed, I was most excited to see another portrait of the artist held in a private collection. Beyond the clear similarities that exist between the portraits, the precise relationship between them is difficult to discern. Although the Madrid portraithas not undergone technical analysis, there is much to learn from studying its support and paint surface, which I will compare with the observations and results from my study of the Glasgow Self Portrait. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to take a close look at this very familiar face.
Of the paintings I consulted in-situ in churches, convents, and monasteries, Carducho’s Carthusian series (1624-32) for the Monasterio de Santa Maria de El Paular in Rascafría proved especially striking. The Prado conducted technical analyses on a selection of paint samples from the series during the early-mid 2000s, and I have pored over high resolution images of these works in recent years. However, seeing these large-scale paintings (nearly 3.4m x 3m each!) together in the cloister really put this commission into perspective. Consideration of the physicality of these works, as well as the practical realities of their commission and completion, will inform my interpretation of their technical studies relative to the likes of Self Portrait.
Complementary to studying Carducho’s paintings was reviewing records from previous technical examinations of his works. For this I received permission to visit the Gabinete Técnico of the Museo del Prado, where I studied a selection of records from historical studies of paintings by Carducho and his peers. Given the comparatively small number of technical studies of Carducho’s paintings, it will be extremely insightful to compare my own results with data from his other paintings and to further contextualise his working practice amid that of his contemporaries in Madrid.
I am very grateful ARTES and CEEH for their support of my research. I was presented this PhD Scholarship in the early weeks of the first lockdown of 2020, and I had no idea if or when it would be possible to reschedule my travel plans. Indeed, re-planning this trip proved to be quite a moving target, and I am indebted to each person who helped make it possible. My endeavours in Madrid helped me to gain a fresh perspective on the place of Self Portrait within Carducho’s oeuvre and a host of ideas to incorporate into my thesis.
5pm, 23 November 2022at The Courtauld, Vernon Square Campus
Speaker: Marina Aurora Garzón Fernández (University of Heidelberg)
During the second half of the 12th century sculptures of knights and ladies started populating churches across the Iberian North. Particularly interesting is the case of Santa María la Mayor de Toro (Zamora) because it features three capitals carved in successive construction stages that can be linked to different traditions. First, in the apse, a victorious knight facing a lady, similar to scenes found in Lleida, León and Santillana del Mar, could be read as a representation of Psalm 44. Later, a capital with a knight and a lady in a farewell embrace was sculpted at the transept, an iconography that can be traced back to a cycle of the Song of Songs from the portal of San Pedro de Villanueva (Asturias). Finally, decades later, another victorious knight with lady was carved at the tower quoting the earlier sculptures. Traditionally interpreted as images of the fight against evil, a reading of these scenes based on Psalm 44 and the Song of Songs, biblical passages alluding to the marriage between Christ and the Church, offers a new perspective on the sculpture program of Santa María la Mayor de Toro.
Marina Aurora Garzón Fernández studied Art History at the University of Santiago de Compostela (2011) where she earned a Masters in Medieval Studies (2013) and obtained her Phd in Medieval Studies (2019) with the thesis “Santa María la Mayor de Toro (Zamora): Church and City (1157-1312)” focusing on the study of Visual Culture in Leon and Castile during the 12th and 13th century. She is currently pursuing her post-doctoral project about paper-cut calligraphy in the Middle Ages at the CRC 933 “Material Text Cultures” at the University of Heidelberg.