M.A. (Cambridge), M.A. Ph.D. (Courtauld, London)

Contact details

The Courtauld Institute of Art

Somerset House


London WC2R 0RN

+44 (0)20 7848 2668


Professor John Lowden

After studying English as an undergraduate at Cambridge, John Lowden gained his MA (1977) and PhD (1980) at The Courtauld Institute of Art.  He joined the academic staff of The Courtauld in 1982, and was promoted Reader in 1995 and Professor in 2002. He has an impressive record of exceptional teaching including nineteen completed PhDs. He is active nationally and internationally as a member of scientific committees, advisory boards, and as a supervisor of research. He has authored ninety academic publications including The Making of the Bibles Moralisées, which was awarded the 2002 Gruendler Prize for the best book in medieval studies, and Early Christian and Byzantine Art (reprinted five times) which has been translated into French, Greek, Japanese and Korean. He has held visiting professorships in the Catholic University of Leuven, Paris (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études section des sciences réligieuses), Waseda University, Tokyo, and the University of Utrecht. 

Professor Lowden was a British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellow in 1992-93, and gave the Grinfield Lectures in the University of Oxford (1996-98). He was co-investigator with Dr Scot McKendrick of the British Library on the AHRC-funded ‘ROYAL’ project (2008-2011) – a project which culminated in the highly successful exhibition Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination at the British Library (November 2011 – March 2012). He set up and has directed the Gothic Ivories Project and his catalogue of the ivories in the Courtauld Collection will be published in October 2013. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, and Perspective: La revue de l’INHA. He was elected member of the Academia Europaea in 2006, corresponding fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and Hon Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 2011.

Current research/interests

  • Illuminated manuscripts c. 450-c.1550
  • The Bibles Moralisées
  • Gothic Ivories
  • ROYAL. Illuminated Manuscripts of the Kings and Queens of England

Courses Taught in 2010-11

Titles of PhD theses supervised

  • “A Study of the Latin Bestiary in England: Structure and Use” (1990)
  • “The Psalms in the 13th-Century Bible Moralisée: a Study in Text and Image” (1991)
  • “Drawing in English Manuscripts, c. 950-c. 1385: Technique and Purpose “ (1991)
  • “Hagiography, Pictorial Narrative, and the Politics of Kingship: Studies in the “Matthew Paris” Saints’ Lives and Illustrations to the Life of St. Louis” (1992)
  • “The Architecture of the 15th Century Hospital of Rhodes: A Historical Approach” [jointly with Prof. P. Kidson] (1994)
  • “The Change from the Mozarabic to the Roman Liturgy in the Kingdom of Alfonso VI of Spain: Studies in the Reconstruction of Orthodoxy” (1995)
  • “The Tractatus de Herbis, British Library MS Egerton 747, and the Illustrative Traditions of Early Manuscript Herbals” (1996)
  • “Art and the Construction of Early Medieval Queenship: The Joint Royal/Imperial Portrait and the Representation of the Ruler’s Consort” (1997)
  • “Artists, Patrons and the Sequence of Production in the Ormesby Psalter” (1999)
  • “Didactic Distractions Framing the Law: the Smithfield Decretals, BL MS Royal 10. E. iv” (2000)
  • “The Cantigas de Santa Maria: A Study of the Militant Virgin” (2001)
  • “Illuminated Gospel Books and the Perception of the Role of Images in Byzantium” (2003)
  • Ornator decenter. Figurative Ecclesiastical Floor Mosaics in Northern Italy, 1030-1213” (2005)
  • “Re-Reading Saint Bernard: Text, Context and the Art-Historical Interpretation of the Apologia” (2005)
  • “[Terence MSS]” (2008)
    “Art and Education in Northern Europe, c. 900 – c. 1200” (2008)
  • (jointly with Dr Scot McKendrick, British Library—collaborative doctorate) (2010)

PhDs in progress

  • Emma Luker
  • Sarah-Jane Biggs
  • Amanda Dotseth
  • Jack Hartnell (jointly with Dr Antony Eastmond)

External PhD

  • “Typological Interpretation and Illustration of English Psalters, c. 1150 - c. 1250” (University of Oxford, 1998)
  • “Medieval Manichaean Book Art: A Study of Design, Function, and Origin of Manichaean Book Illumination” (University of Indiana, 1998)
  • “La forme et l’objet du Livre. Une lecture dynamique des Bibles moralisées du XIIIe Siècle” (University of Utrecht and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 2006)
  • "Le livre des Rois dans les Bibles moralisées et les vitraux de la Sainte-Chapelle” (University of Geneva, 2007)
  • "Produktion und Transformation des Wissens am Beispiel des Liber Floridus. Mit einem Katalog der Handschriften” (Humboldt University, Berlin, 2007)
  •  “Varied Visions: The Making of Three Fourteenth-Century English Apocalypse Manuscripts” (Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 2009)           



In preparation

“Bindings and Covers,” “Illuminated and Deluxe Manuscripts,” “Liturgical/Sacred Manuscripts,” in The Oxford Handbook of Greek Palaeography, ed. Niels Gaul

Catalogue of Ivories in The Courtauld Gallery

ROYAL: Illuminated Manuscripts of the Kings and Queens of England

In press

‘The Strange and Eventful History of the Archimedes Palimpsest,’ in The Archimedes Palimpsest, ed. William Noel, Cambridge University Press, 105-25

“Oktateuchillustration,” Reallexikon zur byzantinischen Kunst, 51 (2010) cols. 1-64

“Biblical Illustration in Biblical Manuscripts, East and West,” in New Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 2, eds. E. Ann Matter, Richard Marsden (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press)

“Inventing Biblical Narrative: The Kiss of Cain in the Bibles moralisées”, ed. A. Gajewski, Z. Opacic, A. Timmermann , 2 vols. (Harvey Miller/Brepols, Turnhout, 2010)


Review of Victoria and Albert Museum.  Medieval Ivory Carvings: Early Christian to Romanesque.  By Paul Williamson.  480 pp.  incl. 450 col. pls. (V&A Publishing, London, 2010), The Burlington Magazine, 153 (2011), 409-410


‘Illustrated Octateuch Manuscripts: A Byzantine Phenomenon,’ in The Old Testament in Byzantium,ed. Paul Magdalino and Robert Nelson, Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia, Washington DC, 2010, 107-152

‘Atelier,’ ‘Bible, Illustration of the,’ ‘Bible moralisée,’ ‘Biblia pauperum,’ ‘Manuscript illumination,’ ‘Nomen sacrum,’ in The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. Robert E. Bjork, 4 vols., Oxford, 2010, 1: 204; 1: 256-257; 1: 259, 1: 259; 3: 1078-1081; 3: 1207

‘The Anjou Bible in the Context of Illustrated Bibles,’ in The Anjou Bible, Jan Van der Stock, Lieve Watteeuw, eds., exhibition catalogue, Leuven, 2010, 1-25

‘Manuscript with the complete works of Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite and two inserted miniatures: (a) Emperor Manuel II and Family (b) St Dionysios,’ in The Hand of Angelos: an Icon painter in Venetian Crete, exh. cat., Benaki Museum, ed. Maria Vassilaki (Athens, Farnham and Burlington VT, 2010), cat. no. 1, pp. 68-70

The Holkham Bible Picture Book and the Bible moralisée”, in The Medieval Book.  Glosses from Friends and Colleagues of Christopher De Hamel, eds. James H. Marrow, Richard A. Linenthal, William Noel, (Houten, 2010), 75-83

Biblia moralizada de los Limbourg: De los hermanos Limbourg a Georges Trubert, by Eberhard König and John Lowden, commentary volume to the facsimile edition (Valencia, 2010). ‘The Limbourg Brothers’ Manuscript as a Bible moralisée,’ pp. 225-43 and pp. 337-46 (figs. 1-45), in English, also in Spanish (pp. 61-80), Italian (143-62), and German (307-27)


The Jaharis Gospel Lectionary: the Story of a Byzantine Book, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Yale UP, New York/ New Haven and London, 2009

‘Making a pair of Bibles moralisées in thirteenth-century Paris: the role of underdrawing,’ in The Quest for the Original, Underdrawing and Technology in Painting, Symposium XVI, Bruges, September 21-23, 2006, eds. Hélène Verougstraete, Colombe Janssens de Bisthoven, Leuven/Paris/Walpole MA, 2009, 158-66

‘Richard Wright and the Four Ways of Seeing,’ in Richard Wright, with texts by Russell Ferguson, Sarah Lowndes, John Lowden, Gagosian Gallery, New York, 2009, 103-104


Medieval Ivories and Works of Art, The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, John Lowden and John Cherry, Toronto, 2008

Under the Influence. The Concept of Influence and the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts, ed. John Lowden and Alixe Bovey, Turnhout, 2007

‘Under the Influence of the Bibles moralisées,’ in Under the Influence. The Concept of Influence and the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts (see no. 68), Turnhout, 2007, 169-85, 232-245

‘Book Production,’ in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, ed. Elizabeth Jeffreys with John Haldon and Robin Cormack, Oxford, 2008, 462-72

‘Foreword. “Wondering about the Journal”,’ Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 71, 2008 (Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Courtauld Institute of Art, ed. Paul Crossley and John Lowden), pp. i-v

"Treasures Known and Unknown in the British Library,” British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, tours


The Word Made Visible: the Exterior of the Early Christian Book as Visual Argument,” in The Early Christian Book, eds. William E. Klingshirn, Linda Safran, Washington DC, 2007, 15-47, figs. 1-15

“The Sacrifice of Isaac in the Bibles moralisées,” in Opfere deinen Sohn! Das ,Isaak-Opfer’ in Judentum, Christentum und Islam, eds. Bernhard Greiner, Bernd Janowski, Hermann Lichtenberger, Tübingen, 2007, 197-241

“The Bible moralisée in the fifteenth century and the challenge of the Bible historiale,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 68 (2005), 73-136

“Les rois et les reines de France en tant que ‘public’ des Bibles moralisées: une approche tangentielle à la question des liens entre les Bibles moralisées et les vitraux de la Sainte-Chapelle,” in La Sainte-Chapelle de Paris. Royaume de France ou Jérusalem céleste? Actes du Colloque (Paris, Collège de France, 2002), Culture et société médiévales 10, ed. Christine Hediger, Turnhout, 2007, 345-62.

(see 40) “The Beginnings of Biblical Illustration,” in Late Antique and Medieval Art of the Mediterranean World, ed. Eva R. Hoffmann, Oxford, 2007, 117-134


“Beauty or Truth? Making a Bible moralisée in Paris around 1400,” in Patrons, Authors and Workshops: Books and Book Production in Paris around 1400, eds. Godefried Croenen, Peter Ainsworth, Synthema 4, Leuven, 2006, 197-222


“An Image in the three-volume Bibles moralisées, a Parallel in the Ambulatory Glass at Bourges Cathedral, and the Cult of the Relics of St Stephen: Exploring Possible Connections,” in “Tout le temps du veneour est sanz oyseuseté.” Mélanges offerts à Yves Christe pour son 65ème anniversaire, ed. Christine Hediger, Turnhout, 2005, 229-48.

“`Reading’ the Bibles moralisées: Images as Exegesis and the Exegesis of Images,” in Reading Images and Texts. Medieval Images and Texts as Forms of Communication, Papers from the third Utrecht Symposium on Medieval Literacy, 7-9 December 2000, Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 8, eds. Mariëlle Hageman, Marco Mostert, Turnhout, 2005, 495-525, and col. pls. 17-19.

Review of Barbara Zimmermann, Die Wiener Genesis im Rahmen der antiken Buchmalerei. Ikonographie, Darstellung, Illustrationsverfahren und Aussageintention. Spätantike - Frühes Christentum - Byzanz. Kunst im ersten Jahrtausend, Reihe B: Studien und Perspektiven 13, Wiesbaden 2003, in Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik, 55, 2005, 335-38.


“The Bible of Saint Louis as a Bible moralisée”, “The Artists of the Bible of Saint Louis,” in The Bible of Saint Louis/La Biblia de San Luis, 3-volume facsimile edition and 2-volume commentary [parallel Spanish and English editions], ed. Ramón Gonzálvez Ruiz, Barcelona, 2001-4, II, 119-55, 323-46

“The Apocalypse in the Early-Thirteenth-Century Bibles moralisées: A Re-Assessment,” in Prophecy, Apocalypse and the Day of Doom, ed. Nigel Morgan, Proceedings of the 2000 Harlaxton Symposium, Harlaxton Medieval Studies 12, Donington, 2004, 195-219, pls. 18-31

“Manuscript Illumination 1261-1557,” in Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557), ed. Helen C. Evans, exhibition catalogue, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2004, 258-69, 600-1, and cat. nos. 160, 162, 170, 171

Review of Axinia Dzurova, Schätze der Buchmalerei vom 4. bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, Regensburg, 2002, in Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 55, 2004, 354


“Illuminated Books and the Liturgy: Some Observations,” in Objects, Images, and the Word: Art in the Service of the Liturgy, ed. Colum Hourihane, Index of Christian Art Occasional Papers 6, Princeton, 2003, 17-53.

“Archimedes into Icon. Forging an Image of Byzantium,” in Icon and Word: The power of Images in Byzantium, ed. Antony Eastmond and Liz James, Aldershot, 2003, 239-60.

“The Medieval Artist as Copyist: Drawing a Line Between Similarity and Difference,” Avista Forum Journal, 13.2, 2003, 55-6 (Kalamazoo Roundup 2003 [abstract of paper]).

(see 36) Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Art and Ideas (Korean translation), Kyeonggi-do, 2003


“The Transmission of ‘Visual Knowledge’ Through Illuminated Manuscripts: Approaches and Conjectures,” in Literacy, Education, and Manuscript Transmission in Byzantium and Beyond, The Medieval Mediterranean 42, eds. Catherine Holmes and Judith Waring, Leiden, 2002, 59-80, ills. 1-13


(see 36) L’art paléochrétien et byzantin (Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Art and Ideas, french translation), Paris, 2001

Review of Richard H. Rouse and Mary A. Rouse, Manuscripts and Their Makers. Commercial Book Producers in Medieval Paris 1200-1500, 2 vols., Turnhout, 2000, in Times Literary Supplement, 21 December 2001, 29


The Making of the Bibles Moralisées. I. The Manuscripts, The Making of the Bibles Moralisées. II. The Book of Ruth, University Park, 2000 (Gründler Prize, 2002)

“Hugo Herbert Buchthal 1909-1996”, Proceedings of the British Academy, 105, 2000, 308-36

“An Inquiry into the Role of Theodore in the Making of the Theodore Psalter,” in Theodore Psalter, electronic facsimile, ed. Charles Barber, Champaign IL/London, 2000, [essays] 1-20

“Byzantium Perceived Through Illuminated Manuscripts: Now and Then”, in Through the Looking Glass: Byzantium Through British Eyes, Robin Cormack and Elizabeth Jeffreys, eds. (29th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, London, March 1995), Aldershot 2000, 85-106

“Illuminated Manuscripts: The Luxury Book in Byzantium, Imaging the Bible, Imperial Books”, in The Oxford Illustrated History of Western Art, ed. Martin Kemp, Oxford, 2000, 76-78, 80-83

“Manuscripts”, in Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition, ed. Graham Speake, Chicago & London, 2000, 995-97

Review of Kurt Weitzmann and Massimo Bernabò, The Byzantine Octateuchs, The Illustrations in the Manuscripts of the Septuagint 2, 2 vols., Princeton, 1999, in Burlington Magazine, 142, 2000, 502-3

(see 36) Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Art and Ideas (Japanese translation), Tokyo, 2000, reprinted 2007


“The Beginnings of Biblical Illustration,” in Imaging the Early Medieval Bible, ed. John Williams, University Park, 1999, 9-59; reprinted in paperback, 2002; reprinted in Late Antique and Medieval Art of the Mediterranean World, ed. Eva R. Hoffmann, Oxford, 2007, 117-134

“Taking a Leaf from Gibbon: appraising Byzantium,” Dialogos, 6, 1999, 147-52

Review of Daniel Weiss, Art and Crusade in the Age of Saint Louis, Cambridge, 1998, in Reviews in History, www.ihrinfo.ac.uk/reviews

(see 36) Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Art and Ideas (Greek translation), Athens, 1999


Early Christian and Byzantine Art, Art and Ideas, London, 1997; reprinted with minor corrections and additions 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008

“Miniatura: area bizantina,” Enciclopedia dell’Arte Medievale, VIII, 1997, 452-62

“Hugo Buchthal (1909-96),” Burlington Magazine, 139, 1997, 198-9

Review of Walter Cahn, Romanesque Manuscripts: The Twelfth Century, Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France, 2, London, 1996, in Burlington Magazine, 139, 1997, 263-4


“Early Christian and Byzantine Art. V, Manuscripts” in The Dictionary of Art, ed. Jane Turner, 34 vols., London/New York, 1996, IX, 602-19. Shorter entries on “Chludov Psalter”, “Cotton Genesis”, “Joshua Roll”, “Menologion of Basil II”, “Paris Psalter”, “Paris Gregory”, “Rossano Gospels”, “Vienna Genesis”

“The Vatopedi Octateuch and Its Sources,” Abstracts of Papers, Byzantine Studies Conference [Oberlin OH], 6, 1980, 22-3


“The Artist and Scribe Theodore at Work on his Psalter in 1066,” Abstracts of Papers, Byzantine Studies Conference [New York, NY], 21, 1995, 3


“The Royal/Imperial Book and the Image or Self-Image of the Medieval Ruler,” in Kings and Kingship in Medieval Europe, ed. Anne J. Duggan, King’s College London Medieval Studies 10, London, 1993, 213-40

“Paris: Byzantine Art from French Collections” (exhibition review), Burlington Magazine, 135, 1993, 48-9

Review of Kathleen Corrigan, Visual Polemics in the Ninth-Century Byzantine Marginal Psalters, Cambridge, 1992: in Burlington Magazine, 135, 1993, 39-40


The Octateuchs. A Study of Illustrated Byzantine Manuscripts, University Park, 1992

“Concerning the Cotton Genesis and Other Illustrated Manuscripts of Genesis,” Gesta, 31, 1992, 40-53

“The Luxury Book as Diplomatic Gift?” in Byzantine Diplomacy, eds. Jonathan Shepard, Simon Franklin, (24th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Cambridge 1990), London, 1992, 249-60

Review of Robert S. Nelson, Theodore Hagiopetrites. A Late Byzantine Scribe and Illuminator, Vienna, 1991: in Burlington Magazine 134, 1992, 446

Review of Henry Mayr-Harting, Ottonian Book Illumination, 2 vols. London, 1991: in Burlington Magazine 134, 1992, 668-9

Review of Jaroslav Pelikan, Imago Dei, The Byzantine Apologia for Icons, New Haven/London, 1990: in History, 77, 1992, 277


“The Palaeologina Group: Additional Manuscripts and New Questions,” with Robert S. Nelson, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 45, 1991, 51-68

“Old Testament Illustration [major entry]; Aaron; Adam and Eve; Abraham; Ark of the Covenant; Burning Bush; Cain and Abel; Closed Door; Creation Scenes (Hexaemeron); Crossing of the Red Sea; Daniel, representations of; David, representations of; Elijah; Flood, the; Genesis [includes Cotton Genesis, Vienna Genesis]; Isaiah, representations of; Jacob’s Ladder; Jeremiah, representations of; Job; Jonah; Joseph, representations of; Kings illustration [includes Quedlinburg Itala]; Maccabees; Melchizedek; Moses, representations of; Noah representations of; Noah’s Ark (Kibotos); Octateuch illustration; Odes, illustration of; Philoxenia of Abraham; Prophetic visions (theophanies); Prophets; Prophet Book, illustration of; Psalter illustration [includes Aristocratic Psalters, Hamilton Psalter, Khludov Psalter, Marginal Psalters]; Solomon, representations of; Three Hebrews,” in Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, gen. ed. Alexander Kazhdan, 3 vols., New York/Oxford, 1991

Review of Kurt Weitzmann and George Galavaris, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai; the Illuminated Greek Manuscripts, Vol. I, From the Ninth to the Twelfth Century: in Burlington Magazine 133, 1991, 714


“Luxury and Liturgy: the Function of Books,” in Church and People in Byzantium, ed. Rosemary Morris (20th Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Manchester 1986), Birmingham, 1990, 263-80

“The Image of God as Creator,” Abstracts of Papers, Byzantine Studies Conference [Baltimore MD], 16, 1990, 21-2

Review of Christoph Eggenberger, Psalterium Aureum Sancti Galli. Mittelalterliche Psalterillustration im Kloster St. Gallen, Sigmaringen, 1987: in Burlington Magazine, 132, 1990, 37


Review of Henry Maguire, Earth and Ocean: The Terrestrial World in Early Byzantine Art, College Art Association Monograph 43, University Park, 1987: in Burlington Magazine, 131, 1989, 225-6

Review of Annabel Jane Wharton, Art of Empire. Painting and Architecture of the Byzantine Periphery, A Comparative Study of Four Provinces, University Park, 1988: in Burlington Magazine, 131, 1989, 425


Illuminated Prophet Books. A Study of Byzantine Manuscripts of the Major and Minor Prophets, University Park, 1988

“Observations on Illustrated Byzantine Psalters,” Art Bulletin, 70, 1988, 242-60

Review of Kurt Weitzmann, Herbert L. Kessler, The Cotton Genesis. British Library Codex Cotton Otho B.VI, Illustrations in the Manuscripts of the Septuagint 1, Princeton, 1986: in Art Bulletin, 70, 1988, 346-7


Review of Ann Wharton Epstein, Tokali Kilise: Tenth-Century Metropolitan Art in Byzantine Cappadocia, Dumbarton Oaks Studies 22, Washington D.C., 1986: in Burlington Magazine, 129, 1987, 330-1

Review of Anna Kartsonis, Anastasis: The Making of an Image, Princeton, 1986: in Burlington Magazine, 129, 1987, 817-8


“Did Byzantine Artists Use an Iconographic Guide?,” 17th International Byzantine Congress, Abstracts of Short Papers, Washington D.C., 1986, 201


“An Alternative Interpretation of the Manuscripts of Niketas,” Byzantion, 53, 1983, 559-74

“Illuminated Prophet Books,” Abstracts of Papers, Byzantine Studies Conference [Durham N.C.], 9, 1983, 27

Review of Kurt Weitzmann, The Miniatures of the Sacra Parallela, Parisinus Graecus 923, Princeton, 1979: in Art International, 26, 1983, 57-8


“The Production of the Vatopedi Octateuch,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 36, 1982, 115-26

“The Production of the Vatopedi Octateuch,” XVI. Internationaler Byzantinistenkongreß, Akten II/4 [Vienna 1981], Jahrbuch der Oesterreichischen Byzantinistik, 32/4, 1982, 197-201


manuscript illumination, Bible moralisee, ivory, medieval art, byzantine, early Christian, late antique, Limbourg, book covers, gothic