This December, Paris will host two exciting Medieval conferences, with esteemed historians travelling to the capital to give papers. Not only will these be great opportunities to meet fellow art historians and hear interesting talks, but they are free! I will be attending both, and will blog about the contents of each. Continue reading “Medieval Conferences in Paris, December 2014”
A blog post all about a collaborative event organised by the Paul Mellon Centre and The British Museum, will hosting a conference titled ‘Invention and Imagination in British Art and Architecture, 600-1500’. Continue reading “‘Invention and Imagination in British Art and Architecture, 600-1500’, The British Museum London, 30/10/14 – 1/11/14”
After what feels like a decade away from academia, my mother and I ventured to the quaint city that is Oxford to have a noisy around the University and Colleges. As many may have read throughout my blogging, I am hoping to continue further study after my year in Paris and want to complete a Masters focusing on Medieval History of Art. As I will be away for the next year, I thought it was probably wise to get started in looking at potential universities so that I get a ‘proper’ feel for the place before applying.
I have only been to Oxford once, and that was when I was only a small child so my memories of the city are quite limited! The city is beautiful. It shares many similarities with York, which I love. One of the main advantages of the university is that it is spread out throughout the entire city. Oxford truly is the University’s city. I am not saying at all that I did not enjoy the centralised nature of York. In fact I found it great – everything is close together so there’s no worry about being late for Seminars/meetings! So this dispersed nature was very new to me!
Our trip to the university included meeting with members of staff in the History of Art and History departments. One thing that I definitely recommend for prospective students, whether that be Post-Graduate or Undergraduate, is to see the place that may become your future home from home and to meet the staff and explore the department. Both members of staff were incredibly friendly and helpful.
As well as meeting departmental staff, I had also arranged to explore a few of the colleges including Jesus, Christ, Trinity and Kellogg. Each are very different, and have all their own unique traits. Similar to York I guess is that there are separate colleges for Graduates only (Such as Kellogg), whereas others are intermixed with both undergraduate and graduates. The good thing about coming from York is that having a similar collegiate system, I wasn’t too confused or thrown off! I think having a look at the potential places that you may live in are imperative to any university visit. Despite the fact that you’re going to an institution to study and learn, the living environment and social side of your time at any university should also weigh in on the decision of where you would like to attend. By visiting potential colleges or halls of residences, this enables you to really in visage whether you could mentally picture yourself fitting in a particular place. If you are turned off by a place, for many reasons (not are all negative, sometimes you just don’t think you would personally suit a particular hall or college) then you know where not to apply etc. Overall, it makes your life a lot easier!
I had a wonderful day roaming around Oxford and getting to know the ins and outs of the university and their teaching. Even if you aren’t thinking about Academia at Oxford, it is definitely worth a visit – there are so many cute tea rooms. Check out some of the photos that I took on my trip there!
Between February 25th and May 18th the Cloisters Museum at the MET in New York is hosting an exhibition presenting stained glass from England’s historic Canterbury Cathedral, dating from 1178-80. I find this concept quite unusual I’m not going to lie, as the exhibitions features six Romanesque-period windows that have never left the cathedral since their creation. Bringing stained-glass from the Cathedral to the MET – why when you can just go to Canterbury itself? I guess through bringing the glass over the pond, so to speak, allows more people to see the beauty of Canterbury’s windows. However, I feel that taking such works out of their religious context renders them almost ‘dumb’ in the sense that they’re not functioning in the religious manner that they should be. I guess times have changed so much anyway, that perhaps the religious function of the stained glass windows are becoming more over-looked and less part of their identity. Having studied Canterbury Cathedral last term, I fell in love with it. I have never been there myself, but having seen and learnt about it through images and online 3-D tours I would love to visit.
If anyone is feeling incredibly generous and would like to provide me with tickets (and travel…) to go to the MET to see this exhibition I will love you forever!
For more information and beautiful pictures of the stained glass on show, visit the MET’s website here: http://www.metmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/listings/2014/canterbury-stained-glass
Also, Apollo magazine (who I interned for during the Summer) have created this awesome article showing some of the best examples of stained-glass across the world, check it out! https://www.apollo-magazine.com/stained-glass/
After a long and tiring previous day, we had to get up extra early in order to catch our morning train to Chartres. Located outside of Paris, our journey consisted of traveling on a double-decker train! (I’ve been on such trains before, but every time I go on one I still act like a small child getting all exciting at experiencing something different!) When we arrived at Chartres, we were welcomed by a hazy morning mist which surrounded the top of the cathedral’s western towers. The photo above does not do the scene we saw justice, it was truly magical.
The first thing on our agenda of the day, was heading down to the crypt to have a guided tour. Despite the tour being in French (and my French is not so good!), it was still really interesting to have a look at the previous Romanesque chapels. The crypt of Chartres Cathedral was once used as a hospital, so it seems somewhat surreal to imagine ill people resting below (the crypt was not the warmest of parts of the cathedral, so I have no idea how they coped!)
We also spent our time exploring the various sculpture of the cathedral, including the infamous west royal portal facade. I was lucky enough to go to Chartres on the last History of Art trip to Paris with ‘Death and Devotion in the Gothic Imagination’, and so this time round I was able to really focus on the certain aspects that I had neglected on the previous trip. However, whilst we were looking at the various portals, there was a bitter cold wind surrounding us and it began to rain – just our luck! So after spending time looking at the portals, we dashed inside to attempt to get some warmth, although the interior of the cathedral seemed just as cold as the outside!
The one thing about studying Medieval art that I believe completely changes your perception of it, is actually experiencing the works/objects/architecture in person. It really does change your perception of what you are looking at, and makes you catch a small glimpse into how it would have been perceived so many centuries ago. Obviously we can never actually truly understand what medievals thought about what they were looking at, but I still think it’s fascinating that despite standing in front of the various stained glass windows 800 or so years on, we are seeing what they saw.
Chartres is a lovely place, with quaint cafes and the odd tourist shop. We had a great day looking around the cathedral, and despite the weather being horrible I still really enjoyed my time there.
Sadly our time in Paris had come to an end, and the next day (Friday 21st February) we had to depart to London in order to make our way back to York. In the morning, some friends and I went to Galeries Lafayette, which is an amazing department store located on Boulevard Haussmann. The building is full of amazing designer clothes – labels I can only dream of wearing one day! Once we had travelled through what seemed like a labyrinth we ascended to the top of the building, which hosts a small cafe and some of the most amazing views of Paris. I could not get over the views – absolutely breathtaking. I have been at the top of Notre-Dame Cathedral before, but I think that these views were better! I could not think of a better way to round the trip together.
I had an amazing time in Paris, although we only spent a brief amount of time there. Next year I plan on having a gap year, and will hopefully perfect my French! I would like to spend the year in France to work on improving my French, as the following year I want to go on to complete a masters in Medieval France, specifically relating to the French Medieval Gothic art and architecture – that’s the dream! So coming to Paris this February has intensified and fuelled my desire to make these things happen!
I am officially back from Paris, and what an amazing time I had! Although we were only there for two full days, we managed to pack a lot of things to do within the time that was available to us. The only thing to note about Paris in February is how cold it is! The weather wasn’t quite amazing, yet that did not dampen our spirits! (Pardon the pun about the rainy whether…)
Wednesday was the first ‘official’ day of our trip here in Paris. We were very lucky to be given a late start that morning, which meant that we got the chance to do some exploring of the city before we got to grips with the Virgin Mary in Paris. I headed to the Sainte-Chapelle as I am currently researching/writing about it for my dissertation! It was great to get back in there this morning – I absolutely love it, and if you haven’t been you must! I always have a very transcendental experience whenever I enter the chapel. Below are a few of the photographs that I snapped on my phone, but I am currently in the process of uploading all my photographs to my new Flickr account, so I’ll post the link soon so everyone can have a look! This is the third time that I’ve been in the Sainte-Chapelle, and it was the quietest I have ever experienced it. Last summer the chapel was heaving with people, whereas this time round it was pretty empty, as you can see. I can only imagine what it must have been like for individuals, such as King Louis, to be alone in this place – breathtaking.
After exploring the Sainte-Chapelle, l I headed over to Notre-Dame Cathedral which is a stones throw away to meet with the rest of the group! We spent the rest of the morning exploring the facade portal and the transept portals, and had a wonder round inside. Notre-Dame Cathedral is stunning, and it was great to head back there once again.
For lunch, I attempted to practice my French (not so great, but I’m really trying to improve!), and then a few us and our tutor Michele went looking around some vintage/second hand clothes shop. I knew Paris was famous for its cloths, but there were so many of them! Some had some great bargains, and some not quite so much. As well as looking around some of Paris’ shops, we also stumbled upon the Centre Pompidou. We didn’t go inside, but had a good look at the architecture of the building. I’ve seen the Pompidou in photos before, but I’m not too sure what to make about it in person; I’m not convinced that I’m it’s biggest fan! But it was still cool to see what the shops were like surrounding the Pompidou, and seeing the various contemporary sculptures and street-art. My favourite was the Salvador Dalí image on the wall as seen below.
Our next and final stop for the day was an exploration around the Lourve. Michele had selected a variety of works for us to see, and so we spent a lot of the time wondering around the labyrinth that is the Louvre to find them! We saw a wide variety of works, ranging of Romanesque stone sculptures, wooden sculptures in the round and some Renaissance paintings; all relating to the Virgin Mary. One of my favourites was an ivory sculpture of the Virgin and Christ Child from the treasury of the Sainte-Chapelle. This small sculpture was believed to be made before 1279, and i think it is one of the most delicate objects I have seen pertaining to the Virgin. The fact that it is made in ivory, one of the most expensive objects at the time, just shows the sheer expense and material value imbedded within the sculpture. (More information can be found here: http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/virgin-and-child-sainte-chapelle) Another work that I really enjoyed seeing was Cimabue’s ‘Virgin Enthroned with Angels’, which we had studying just the seminar before coming to Paris, so it was great that we could see it in person; and it’s so big! Scale is definitely something that one needs to think about and remember when thinking about Medieval art, as just by knowing how big a painting Cimabue’s ‘Virgin’ is changes my perception of people may have viewed it in the 13th century. (See Cimabue’s painting here: http://arthistoryblogger.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/cimabue-giotto-and-duccio-comparison-of.html)
Once we had seen the assigned Virgin Mary images, some friends and I headed to see the Mona Lisa, and yes, we did the compulsory ‘selfie’ that one must do when seeing the painting! (Mine is below – I look way too happy!) Despite it being quite late in the evening, there were still so many people wondering around the Lourve and crowding around Leonardo’s Mona!
So as you can tell, Wednesday was a busy first day in Paris! We headed back to the hostel to tuck into some food, and just chilled for the rest of the evening. We had to be up pretty early the following day to catch our train to Chartres, so sleep was definitely a must for me – especially in order to function the next day! After walking around Paris the whole day, it was nice to be able to put our feet up and relax.