Courtauld Institute of Art Graduate Symposium 2008
17th-18th January, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre


Laura Cleaver

Learning to Read in the Art of the Twelfth Century

This paper will consider images of education from the long twelfth century as sources for contemporary attitudes to teaching and learning.  Focusing on representations of the art of Grammar, it will begin by exploring the information contained in some depictions regarding how such images were to be read.  The second part of the paper will then examine scenes of the teaching of grammar in manuscripts, glass, sculpture and metalwork.  It will argue that the imagery located in churches presented a particular view of the purpose and process of learning, whilst other representations nuanced the imagery to make particular comments about the experience of discipline and the value of studying Latin as a language.      

Charlotte De Mille

Rhythm: La Tendance Nouvelle?

This paper traces the intersection of Symbolist thought with the philosophy of Henri Bergson through a specific case-study of two journals: the Anglo-Scots Rhythm (1911-1914) and the French Les Tendances Nouvelles (1906-1914). It is the concept of ‘rhythm’ that holds the key to this exchange of ideas. Whilst Bergson is ruthlessly clear upon the detrimental effect of a symbolical understanding for durational (experiential) consciousness, both Symbolism and Bergsonism rely upon rhythm in their claims for intuitive rather than pragmatic modes of life.

Despite Rhythm’s avowed Bergsonism, the journal remained enamoured of a literary Symbolism that superficially at least must have appeared contrary to its ideology. It was through this concept of rhythm that the Rhythmists John Middleton Murry, Michael Sadler, John Duncan Fergusson, Samuel Peploe and Anne Rice aspired to up-date and transform Symbolism into Bergsonism. Within this manoeuvre, the Neo-Symbolist Les Tendances Nouvelles provided a prototype format for the Anglo-Scots journalto follow: in its interdisciplinary scope, its sociological aesthetics, and not least in its physical design. With these three areas in mind, this paper will highlight specific parallels in both content and personnel in a demonstration that the over-arching concept of ‘rhythm’ was itself a ‘tendance nouvelle.’

Robert Hradsky

Courtyards and Cloisters: Interpreting Public Space in the Post-Restoration Inns of Court

Each of the four Inns of Court was simultaneously a public and a private place. Within their walls lawyers lived and worked in chambers and dined together in hall, but by the late seventeenth century a large number of non-lawyers were also living in the inns, joined during the day by other members of the public who used the extensive open spaces for recreation or as meeting places. The decisions made by the ‘benchers’ who ran the inns regarding the configuration and decoration of these spaces should be understood within such a context. A series of early eighteenth-century topographical drawings seems to portray the inns as a permeable public realm. This was perhaps best expressed in the legal precinct made up of the Inner and Middle Temple, where the Benchers’ Garden was transformed into the publicly-accessible Fountain Court in 1681. Other unusual interventions in the built environment of the Temple, such as the chambers built over an open arcade known as the Cloisters (1680-81) and the outdoor murals depicting figures of the virtues (c. 1685), may respectively have been conceived as a means of reinforcing collegiate tradition and identity, whilst simultaneously acknowledging the Temple’s informal status as a public amenity.

Nicole Lawrence

Made without Human Hands?:  Ugo da Carpi’s Saint Veronica Altarpiece

In 1525, Pope Clement VII commissioned the woodcut engraver Ugo da Carpi to paint a copy of the vera icon for the altar of Saint Veronica in old Saint Peter’s. The vera icon, the veil or linen cloth that held the miraculous imprint of the body of Christ, was a material artifact that presented truth as a matter of evidence rather than a function of logic. In confronting the problem of painting an image ‘made without human hands, ’Ugo uniquely signed his work with an elusive inscription claiming that the painting was ‘made without brushes’. Close examination of the panel reveals that through the process of copying the vera icon, Ugo da Carpi came to develop his own dialectic over authenticity, instituting technical innovation in unexpected ways.

Ayla Lepine

Collaborative Beauty: The Painted Ceiling of Jesus College Chapel, Cambridge

From the 1850s until the 1870s, George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) and William Morris (1834-1896) often collaborated on the decoration of both secular and sacred architectural projects. This paper will concentrate on their work in Cambridge, focusing on the nave ceiling in the chapel of Jesus College, the designs for which were executed between 1866 and 1868. This was an important period generally in two aspects of English society with particular contextual bearing: the Aesthetic Movement and the Oxford Movement, or Tractarianism. The former was an intellectual and visual force which began to change the nature of creating and viewing. ‘Art for art’s sake’ became a prominent banner under which numerous innovative artists began to experiment with subjectlessness, putting beauty above all else. The latter movement – often called Ritualism - had begun in the 1830s and grew throughout the century. It was promoted by Gothic Revival architects and the Ecclesiological Society as an intellectual and aesthetic matrix in which the Church of England and its followers might find renewed spiritual depth through pre-Reformation practices. I believe Bodley and Morris forged fruitful visual connections between the Aesthetic Movement and Ritualism, and that this is expressed eloquently in the Jesus College project.

Caroline Levitt

From the Walls of Factories to the Art of the Poet: Illustration and Inscription in the Work of Apollinaire and Breton

As soon as the passer-by walks into the rue Berton, he will notice that the walls that border it are covered with inscriptions, with graffiti as the antiquarians would say.
Guillaume Apollinaire, Le Flâneur des deux rîves, 1918
In 1911, Apollinaire spent four days in La Santé prison; describing his experience, he commented that ‘The first violent emotion that I felt at La Santé came from an inscription engraved into the metal of the bedstead’. The otherwise bare walls of the interior of the prison contrast starkly with the exterior walls of the rue Berton, covered in writing, and it is with the relationships between writing and imprisonment that this paper is in part concerned. Mark-making, and in particular ‘inscriptions’ as Apollinaire describes them, will be shown to be a means of gaining liberty from various spaces of constraint: from the prison, tomb and cave to the enclosed pages of a book; graffiti will be considered not only in the guise of illicit drawings on exterior walls but also in relation theoretically to illustrations, inscriptions and monuments. Throughout, the way in which Apollinaire’s ideas feed into the concerns of André Breton and the Surrealists, in particular the notion of writing as a means of gaining liberty, will be assessed.

Mireya Lewin

Antoni Tàpies and Documentary Photography: the Representation of an Artistic Identity and the Awakening of a Catalan Cultural Collective Consciousness

‘As I searched for my identity in the art, I was interested in photography.’

The close collaboration between the Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies and the photojournalist Francesc Català-Roca is evidence of the developing relationship between documentary photographers and artists in 1950s Spain. Otherwise a private man, the artist welcomed the photographer into his studio to capture him, his work and the creative process at various intervals during the 1950s and throughout the 1960s. I contend that the performance elements of Català-Roca’s photographic portraits of Tàpies and images of the artist at work in his studio are a crucial aspect of the creation of the myth, in the Barthesian sense, surrounding the artist’s identity. Despite their spontaneous and factual appearance, the resulting images are highly choreographed photographs that transgress the documentary function becoming instead an instrument of self-promotion that asserts the figure of the artist-celebrity. 

Photography as an artistic medium in Spain developed at a different pace than in Europe or the United States due to specific socio-economic, political and cultural state of affairs during the 1940s and 1950s. As a result, it was not overtly popular or commercial and, like all other forms of media, was subject to the regime’s tough censorship laws. Catalan documentary photography at this time is linked to an awakening of its cultural collective consciousness. With this in mind, I examine the association between Tàpies’ self-portraits and his wall paintings in which the artist searched for and revealed his ‘cultural identity’ and Català-Roca’s Barcelona street scenes. In the same manner that the artist’s matter paintings do not escape the influence of international trends, so too, Catalan documentary photography absorbed American journalistic and European Subjektive photographic tendencies. Ultimately, both the photographs and Tàpies’ wall paintings succeed in breaching the cultural gap between the Spanish and the international avant-garde aiding in the nation’s cultural development despite forty years of dictatorial rule.

Tom Nickson

The Arab Cathedral: British Travellers to Toledo and the Origins of Gothic

This paper analyses how responses to the ‘Arabic encounter’ at Toledo cathedral have been drawn into wider debates about the nature of Spanish national identity and the origin of gothic architecture. Taking as paradigm the polarised views of Spanish history as represented by the 20th-century historians Americo Castro and Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz – the former advocating a culture premised on the fusion of Jewish, Moorish and Christian the cultures, the latter an enduring notion of Hispanidad – this paper investigates the political dimension to the interpretation of those parts of Toledo cathedral that might be considered ‘Arabic’. It sets the response of British travellers in the 19th century against a background of growing interest in Moorish Spain, which was variously acclaimed as the apostle of the pointed arch in western Europe; a model of liberal tolerance crushed by Catholic Spain; or a symbol of decadence corrupting the purity of European gothic.


Michalis Olympios

Gothic Architecture in Cyprus c.1300: The Case of the West End of Nicosia Cathedral

This paper aims at situating the final building campaign at the cathedral of Nicosia, the administrative and ecclesiastical capital of the kingdom of Cyprus, within the context of European architecture around the year 1300. To this end, the formal vocabulary employed by the master mason entrusted with the completion of the west end of the church will be examined in an attempt to identify the models that inspired it and thus help in assembling a picture of the master’s background and training. Furthermore, this analysis will aid us in reconstructing the agenda of the patrons of the work, especially since Nicosia Cathedral, the coronation church of the kings of Cyprus, displays direct and unequivocal references to the church of the sacres of the French kings, namely Reims Cathedral. In the last part of this paper, the Nicosia west end will be considered in the light of contemporary architectural developments in both Europe and Cyprus and its impact on local Cypriot building practice will be briefly touched upon.

Edward Payne

Plate-cutting and Body-slicing in Seicento Naples: Ribera’s Bartholomew Print

Renowned for his graphic depictions of penitent saints and martyrdom scenes, the Spanish artist Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652) portrays the heights of suffering in his print of The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew (1624), one of the most arresting images from his graphic production. Bartholomew endured the excruciating torture of being flayed alive for his Christian faith, and Ribera’s interpretation of the ‘unmaking’ of the saint’s body paradoxically calls attention to the ‘making’ of both subject and print. This paper examines how Ribera exploits the method of etching to reveal the subtle connections between the processes of creation by destruction in the story of the saint, the iconography of flaying and the construction of the physical object. Central to this discussion is an analysis of the relationship between the different instruments of execution that are employed and the concept of skin as a site of identity.

Stephanie Porras

Rural Memory, Pagan Idolatry: Pieter Bruegel’s Peasant Shrines


In Pieter Bruegel’s panel Flight into Egypt, a pagan idol falls from a tree as the Holy Family pass. An established component of the iconography of the Flight, the falling idol is not in itself unusual, except here Bruegel has chosen to depict the idol as tumbling from a wooden gabled shrine. This is exactly the type of shrine he depicts as part of the local, rural landscape in the panel Haymaking and in the Cambridge drawing Wooded Landscape. Is then the peasant shrine, for Bruegel, a memory of pagan idolatry? Does Bruegel’s falling idol reflect the contemporary Reformation polemic about the pagan origins of many Catholic rites? Not exactly – the Flight into Egypt’s provenance (it was owned by Cardinal Granvelle, leading minister of the Spanish Hapsburgs) subverts any interpretation foregrounding a specific theological critique of rustic religiosity. Although Bruegel’s quotation of the vernacular in his depiction of the pagan retains a certain moral charge, the hybrid shrine also functions as a site of cultural memorial within Bruegel’s representations of peasant life.

Bruegel’s falling idol recalls one of the thousands of obscure local religious sites, image-laden trees and crosses that dotted pre- and post-Reformation Europe. These religious markers were often sites of memorial for successive generations, commemorating personal, family and community histories. Bruegel’s depiction of these statues and images, not only reflects the religious topography of the sixteenth-century, but also points to the collective memory of the Netherlandish peasantry as manifested in these shrines. The hybrid shrine of The Flight into Egypt signals the historical character of Netherlandish rural custom, indicating the perceived continuity of peasant practice in the Low Countries. In representing both the antiquity and ubiquity of peasant shrines, Bruegel engages with the problems of cultural history and identity at a time when many within the Spanish-occupied Low Countries began to articulate a distinctly ‘Netherlandish’ character.

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Philippa Simpson

Schools of Art

In 1806, the Marquis of Stafford opened his private collection to a (limited) public. Ten years before the inauguration of Dulwich Picture Gallery, and almost twenty years before the National Gallery, this event not only made his name, but provided rare access for amateurs and artists to old master paintings. The arrangement of the hang at Cleveland House can be read as a negotiation of academic discourse and market interests, which begins to lay foundations for an understanding of the British School. The way in which British paintings are situated within the displays, and the dialogues established between different works, point towards emerging ideas of a national artistic identity, largely shaped through collecting practices. Looking at the different exhibition tactics and market activities of the Marquis of Stafford, I should like to explore how he exploited his collection in order to establish the role of the collector in processes of artistic development and the creation of a history of art.

Sarah Turner

Contact Zones: The India Society and Colonial Modernity in Edwardian Britain, c. 1910

Founded in London in 1910 by the artist William Rothenstein, the India Society was set up with the purpose of promoting a better appreciation and understanding of the arts of India — both past and present — through lectures, exhibitions and publications. The Society’s membership was drawn from a network of cultural revivalists, including Ananda Coomaraswamy, William Rothenstein, E.B. Havell, Walter Crane, and Roger Fry, who all shared a vision of art as an agent for social and spiritual change. India’s ancient culture was imagined as a site of artistic integrity and spiritual fulfilment, offering paradigms for alternative systems of cultural reference and representation that could invigorate the arts in Edwardian Britain. My paper will examine how India Society members sought inspiration from Indian artists, craftsmen and writers, both fostering a more intimate knowledge of Indian art in Britain at the beginning of the twentieth century, and actively promoting cross-cultural, cross-border exchange within the complex web of the British Empire. As such, I will suggest that the India Society can be understood as a ‘contact zone’ ― a space of encounter and interaction between disparate cultures. I will look in detail at William Rothenstein’s visit to India in 1910, and the reception and promotion of Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore when he visited London in 1912.

Geraldine Victoir

An Early Fourteenth-century Wall Painting in a Chapel of Noyon Cathedral: a Shrine’s Substitute

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Esmé Whittaker

Leading a Double Life: The Arts and Crafts House as Rural Retreat

This paper examines the lifestyles of the patrons who commissioned Arts and Crafts houses in the Lake District between 1890 and 1910. Through the details of their lives, both in their home city of Manchester and in the Lake District, the paper explores the wider debates about the relationship between the city and the countryside at the close of the nineteenth century. It compares the argument first put forward by Martin J Wiener in the 1980s that, due to the decline of the industrial spirit in English culture, the industrial towns were abandoned by the capitalist class, with the concept of the ‘double life’, a simultaneous existence in both the city and the country, suggested by turn-of-the-century commentator Horace Townsend. Both arguments relied upon the city, a place of industry and work, and the countryside, a place of health and recreation, being regarded as separate worlds but this paper suggests that, through these patrons and their architectural commissions, the city and the countryside, Manchester and the Lake District, were closely connected.

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