Professor John Lowden
The issues addressed include some of those most debated in art history: the links between form and content; matters of attribution and connoisseurship; the relations between the visual and the verbal (or ‘text and image’); the use of models and sources; the division of labour, workshops, and ‘schools’; the definition and role of ‘the patron’ (male or female), ‘the artist’, ‘art’.
At the same time the use of various methodologies is considered, and the historiographical aspect of the subject is never overlooked.
The production of art is considered largely, but not exclusively, in terms of detailed study of the works themselves. This is carried out in part at first hand with the originals, in part through the use of the unrivaled photographic resources of the Conway Library, and in part through publications available in The Courtauld and in other specialist libraries in London.
The consumption of art is extrapolated from a variety of sources, amongst which the often overlooked evidence of the objects themselves remains crucial, and can be deduced by a range of strategies.
The structure of the course is in terms of materials, with special attention paid in turn to metalwork and enamel, stained glass, wall-painting and mosaic, sculpture (including ivory carving), and manuscript illumination. The works chosen for consideration are from the Romanesque and Gothic periods, roughly between about 1050 and 1250, and were made in different parts of Europe. They are chosen for their variety, as well as their perceived importance, and are approached in an appropriately opportunistic manner: asking different questions, exploring different approaches.
The research dissertation normally takes up some aspect of the taught course.
The facilities for the study of medieval art in London are excellent, and students can take full advantage of these. MA students are welcomed at the various medieval seminars at The Courtauld and elsewhere in London. The activities of the Research Centre for Illuminated Manuscripts provide particular support for those with an interest in this area.