Art, Faith, and Politics in Late Medieval Venice

Art, Faith, and Politics in Late Medieval Venice, lecture by Holger Klein (Columbia University), ICMA at The Courtauld Lecture Series 2014–15, February 18, 2015, 5:30 pm

Following the Crusader conquest of Constantinople in 1204 and the subsequent looting of its churches, chapels and palaces, Venice became a key repository of sacred relics imported from Byzantium and the Eastern Mediterranean. Some of the most treasured relics were soon incorporated into the liturgical and ceremonial rituals of the city and its most distinguished churches. While Venetian efforts to acquire new relics slowed down considerably after the end of the Latin domination of Constantinople in 1261, several prominent Eastern relics entered the city during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and enriched the city with their spiritual and miracle-working power. This lecture will explore how two prominent donations of relics of the True Cross, one to the confraternity of San Giovanni Evangelista the other to the Scuola di Santa Maria della Carità, impacted religious, public, and artistic life in Venice from the mid-fourteenth through the early sixteenth century.

Holger A. Klein was educated in Art History, Early Christian Archaeology, and German Literature at the universities of Freiburg im Breisgau, Munich, London, and Bonn. He received his MA from The Courtauld Institute of Art in 1994. From 2004–2007 he served as the Robert P. Bergman Curator of Medieval Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art and continued to oversee the reinstallation of the museum's renowned collection of Medieval and Byzantine art until 2010. His work as a curator includes various international loan exhibitions, among them Medieval Treasures from The Cleveland Museum of Art (2007–08) and Treasures of Heaven. Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe (2010–11). Professor Klein is the recipient of several awards and prizes, including Columbia University’s Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching (2011), the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award (2012), and the William T. de Bary Award for Distinguished Service to the Core Curriculum (2014).