John Lowden, FBA

Search for:

John Lowden, FBA

Professor of Medieval Art History
A photograph of John Lowden

After studying English as an undergraduate at Cambridge, John Lowden took the MA (1977) and PhD (1980) at The Courtauld. He had a temporary appointment in art history at St Andrews, before joining the academic staff of The Courtauld in 1982. He is active nationally and internationally as a member of scientific committees (Anjou Bible-Leuven), advisory boards (chair, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, British Library), and as a supervisor of doctoral research. As director of the Research Centre for Illuminated Manuscripts he seeks to facilitate and forward research in relevant areas. He is convenor of the Leuven-Lille-London study group, which has met annually since 1999.

The Making of the Bibles Moralisées, was awarded the 2002 Gruendler Prize for the best book in medieval studies. His Early Christian and Byzantine Art (now in its sixth impression) has been translated into French, Greek, Japanese and Korean. He has been a British Academy/ Leverhulme Senior Research Fellow (1992-93), and he gave the Grinfield Lectures in the University of Oxford (1996-98). He was co-investigator with Dr Scot McKendrick (British Library) on the AHRC-funded ‘ROYAL’ project (2008-2011), and director of the privately–funded Gothic Ivories Project at The Courtauld (2008-2015). He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, and Perspective: La revue de l’INHA. John was elected member of the Academia Europaea in 2006 and a fellow of the British Academy in 2013.


  • MA History of Art: Making and Meaning in the Art of the Middle Ages

PhD students


  • Amanda Dotseth, ‘San Quirce de Burgos: Piety and Patrimony in the long Life of a Romanesque Church’
  • Emma Luker, ‘The Leiden Psalter’
  • Naomi Speakman, (jointly with British Museum) ‘Gothic Ivory Carvings of the British Museum: Interpretations, Forgeries and Collectors’
  • Miguel Ayres de Campos, ‘Thinking with a Medieval Picture Book’
  • Rachel Hapoienu, ‘Gens Barbara: Images in Twelfth and Thirteenth Century manuscripts of the Works of Gerald of Wales’

Recently completed

  • Jessica Barker, ‘Marriage and Funerary Monuments in Late Medieval England’ (2014)
  • Maria Grasso, ‘Imaging the Souls of the Blessed: Valenciennes, Bibliotheque Municipale, MS 500, Saint Amand, and the Parable of Dives and Lazarus, c. 835-1275.’ (2014)
  • Francesca Demarchi, ‘Book Illumination in Milan around the Year 1000: The Prayerbook of Arnulph II (London, British Library, MS. Egerton 3763) and Some Related Manuscripts’ (2014)
  • Anne-Marie Eze, (jointly with Dr Scot McKendrick, British Library—AHRC Collaborative Doctorate Award) (2010)
  • Renana Bartal, ‘Varied Visions: The Making of Three Fourteenth-Century English Apocalypse Manuscripts’ (Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 2009)
  • Beatrice Radden Keefe, ‘Imagining Terence: Artistic Originality and Tradition in Four Illustrated Terence Manuscripts from the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries’ (2008)
  • Laura Cleaver, ‘Art and Education in Northern Europe, c. 900 – c. 1200’ (2008)
  • Maya Ahrens-Grossenbacher, ‘Le livre des Rois dans les Bibles moralisées et les vitraux de la Sainte-Chapelle’ (University of Geneva, 2007)
  • Hanna Vorholt, ‘Produktion und Transformation des Wissens am Beispiel des Liber Floridus. Mit einem Katalog der Handschriften’ (Humboldt University, Berlin, 2007)

Research interests

  • Medieval Art
  • Medieval Ivories
  • Illuminated Manuscripts

Recent publications

Books and edited books

  • indexMedieval and Later Ivories in The Courtauld Gallery: Complete Catalogue, London, 2013
  • 51HvIeCWL1L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination, Scot McKendrick, John Lowden, Kathleen Doyle, with Joanna Fronska and Deirdre Jackson, exhibition catalogue, British Library, London, 2011. ‘The Royal Manuscript as Idea and Object,’ pp. 18-41, and cat. nos. 22, 24, 46, 53, 54, 74, 137; pp. 140-141, 144-145, 190-191, 206-207, 208-209, 250-251, 386-387
  • 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. 225-243 and pp. 337-346 (figs. 1-45), in English, also in Spanish (pp. 61-80), Italian (pp. 143-162), and German (pp. 307-327)
  • index_clip_image002 lowdenThe Jaharis Gospel Lectionary: the Story of a Byzantine Book, Metropolitan Museum of Art/Yale UP, New York/ New Haven and London, 2009
  • index_clip_image006 lowden book coverMedieval Ivories and Works of Art, The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, John Lowden and John Cherry, Toronto, 2008
  • index_clip_image004 lowden book coverUnder the Influence. The Concept of Influence and the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts, eds. John Lowden and Alixe Bovey, Turnhout, 2007

Essays and articles

  • ‘Bindings and Covers’, ‘Illuminated and Deluxe Manuscripts’, ‘Liturgical/Sacred Manuscripts’, in The Oxford Handbook of Greek Palaeography, ed. Niels Gaul
  • ‘Biblical Illustration in Biblical Manuscripts, East and West’, in New Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 2, eds. E. Ann Matter, Richard Marsden, Cambridge, 2012, pp. 446-482
  • ‘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, pp. 158-166
  • ‘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, pp. 103-104
  • ‘Under the Influence of the Bibles moralisées,’ in Under the Influence. The Concept of Influence and the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts Turnhout, 2007, pp. 169-185, 232-234
  • ‘Book Production,’ in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, ed. Elizabeth Jeffreys with John Haldon and Robin Cormack, Oxford, 2008, pp. 462-472
  • ‘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,
  • The Word Made Public, the Word Made Visible: Images on the Covers of Early Christian Books,” (in Japanese, online edition), Bulletin of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies, 6, 2008, pp. 61-88
  • ‘Illustrated Octateuch Manuscripts: A Byzantine Phenomenon,’ in The Old Testament in Byzantium, eds. Paul Magdalino and Robert Nelson, Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposia and Colloquia, Washington DC, 2010, pp. 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: pp. 204, 256-257, 259; 3: pp. 1078-1081, 1207
  • ‘The Anjou Bible in the Context of Illustrated Bibles,’ in The Anjou Bible, eds. Lieve Watteeuw and Jan Van der Stock, Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts 18, exhibition catalogue, Leuven, 2010, pp. 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’, The Medieval Book. Glosses from Friends and Colleagues of Christopher De Hamel, eds. James H. Marrow, Richard A. Linenthal, and William Noel, Houten, 2010, pp. 75-83
  • “The Strange and Eventful History of the Archimedes Palimpsest,” in The Archimedes Palimpsest, eds. Reviel Netz, William Noel, Natalie Tchernetska, Nigel Wilson, 2 vols., Cambridge, 2011, vol. I, Catalogue and Commentary, pp. 97-117
  • “Inventing Biblical Narrative: The Kiss of Cain in the Bibles moralisées” in Image, Memory and Devotion; Architecture, Liturgy and Identity: Liber amicorum Paul Crossley, eds. Alexandra Gajewski, Zoe Opacic, Achim Timmermann, 2 vols., Turnhout, 2011, vol. I, pp. 35-53
  • “Oktateuchillustration,” Reallexikon zur byzantinischen Kunst, ed. Marcell Restle, 51, 2011, cols. 353-418
    Review of Victoria and Albert Museum. Medieval Ivory Carvings: Early Christian to Romanesque, Paul Williamson: The Burlington Magazine, 153, 2011, pp. 409-410
  • “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, pp. 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, pp. 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, pp. 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, pp. 345-362.
  • “FRANCE (Paris) c. 1360-80. Diptych with scenes from the Life of Christ,” The Courtauld Gallery Masterpieces, London, 2007, pp. 18-19
  • “The Beginnings of Biblical Illustration,” in Late Antique and Medieval Art of the Mediterranean World, ed. Eva R. Hoffmann, Oxford, 2007, pp. 117-134

Recent/major grants

  • AHRC major award holder, jointly with Dept. of Manuscripts, British Library, for ROYAL exhibition (2011), 3-year award

Other current/ongoing activities

  • Member of Editoral board, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes

Share This

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Close