Workshop on Medieval Wall Paintings, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square Campus, May 17, 2023
Wall paintings, as one of the only forms of public art surviving from the Middle Ages, are an invaluable resource for art-historians, historians, and literary specialists, among others. However, there are also many challenges to wall painting research: it can be difficult to ‘read’ their imagery, they are often highly degraded, and crucial archival material is often dispersed and difficult to interpret.
This interdisciplinary research workshop invites participation from PhD and Early Career Researchers in art-history, history, literature, conservation, and other disciplines whose research projects involve medieval wall paintings. As well as establishing a network of researchers working on related material, we will discuss practicalities and methods of research into wall paintings. You will have the opportunity to see the National Wall Painting Survey held at The Courtauld, which contains a vast archive of material covering almost 8,000 wall paintings in the British Isles. We will also hear from wall paintings conservator Emily Howe (who has worked on the mural schemes at Eton and Westminster) about using conservation reports as part of the study of historic wall paintings.
This workshop offers the opportunity to:
- Examine different methods of researching wall paintings.
- Analyse the uses and interpretation of conservation reports for scholars working in other disciplines.
- Assess the different types of sources for researching wall paintings.
- Discuss the issues surrounding the dating of wall paintings, and the various methods for doing so.
- Consider the distinctive iconographies found in wall painting and their potential relevance to broader historical enquiries.
As part of the workshop, all participants will be invited to give a ten-minute lightening talk on the role of wall paintings in their research.
Whilst this workshop places emphasis on English wall painting due to the connection with the National Wall Painting Survey at The Courtauld, we are keen to consider wall paintings as a global phenomenon. Therefore, we encourage submissions from a broad geographical scope pre-1550.
This workshop is supported by the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE), AHRC.