The current exhibition at the Musée de Cluny offers a journey through time and space during the Middle Ages. ‘Voyager au Moyen Âge’ (‘Travelling in the Middle Ages’) hosts a variety of key aspects of travel in the Medieval period. As one walks around the exhibition, which is currently on show in the third-century Gallo-Roman thermal bathing hall, you are presented with different types of traveller, from the merchant to the pilgrim, the prince to the artist. Furthermore, the exhibition highlights the diverse reasons for travelling during this time, encompassing specific issues such as the aspiration for knowledge, the need to demonstrate visibility within specific societies and the journey of the afterlife. On show are a selection of varying objects, including tapestries and reliquaries taken on travel, to illuminated manuscripts illustrating maps of various countries. Probably the most notable artefact is displayed right in the centre of the exhibition – the fragments of a medieval boat which have been recreated to provide a tangible sense of the physical nature of such journeys and what they may have entailed.
Overall, the objects on show are interesting, and offer one an insight into the various aspects of travel during the Middle Ages. The exhibition closes on 23rd February 2015, so there’s still time left to be transported and travel through the life of a medieval voyager.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet with a friend who is studying at the Courtauld, with her fellow classmates and professor, to look around the current Medieval exhibition at the Louvre. The exhibition titled, ‘Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain’ offers a glimpse into a period when the Medieval Western Islamic world was at the height of its glory, as much in terms of its artistic production as its place in history. Focusing from the 11th to 15th centuries of Western Islamic dynasties, this exhibition presents over 300 objects that aim to show this culture’s long and complex history, which is crucial to an understanding of Medieval Morocco and Islam.
This exhibition shows many beautiful objects, including architectural decoration from various Mosques; textiles and ivory; and it also displays a plethora of illuminated manuscripts and examples of beautiful calligraphy. Many of these objects are extremely rare, not only in historical value, but because many have never been showcased in such a way to the public. Even though I have previously studied various key examples of Medieval Islamic works, I have never studied this particular area as a whole in depth. Despite this, I found the exhibition really interesting. Coming from a different perspective research wise during the same time period, it is completely fascinating to notice the differences in style and workmanship. If you thought Medieval Christian Reliquaries were lavish and ornate, many of the objects in the ‘Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain’ exhibition will be able to change ones mind. For example, before entering the exhibition you encounter an elaborately carved Grand Chandelier originally from Fez, Morocco. Created between 1202 and 1213, this magnificent Chandelier has intricate patterning and inscriptions adorning the surface. This is truly a beautiful piece of art, and one can only imagine how awe-inspsiring it must have in-situ. I can imagine good old Abbot Suger being very impressed!
Ultimately this a great exhibition, offering an interesting insight and opportunity to view the complex history of Western Islamic Culture that is not often displayed in comparison to the work and history of Medieval Christendom.
Below are a few more photos that I took around the Louvre before entering the exhibition.
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”→
This week in ‘Death and Devotion’ we have moved swiftly from Paris and England, and are now focusing on Castile and Leon. Within this, we are primarily looking at King Alfonso X’s Cantigas! The Cantigas are a collection of poems about the Virgin Mary which would have been performed in the court, and during the feast days of the Virgin. I’m not going to lie, before encountering this week I was a little skeptical as to what the Cantigas would sound like. But after reading more about them, the historical context and political propaganda behind their conception; I actually quite like them!
Here are a few for you to enjoy! I think it’s fascinating that people during the medieval period would have listened to these, and would have invested emotional resonance into them. History of Art definitely incorporates pretty much everything you can think of, and I think that this week proves it.