Harry Prance

PhD student

Thesis: Malleable Materials: Middle Byzantine Eucharistic Objects

Supervised by Prof. Antony Eastmond

Funded by CHASE/AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership

The selection of 9th-11th century chalices, patens, and lamps in the Tesoro di San Marco in Venice are some of the most impressive and luxurious objects left to us from the Middle Byzantine world. United by an insistent and attractive materiality, their glinting gilded surfaces pucker and blister with jewelled cabochons, glimmering pearls and flashing enamels.

Unsurprisingly, they have featured heavily in exhibitions and have been well catalogued by scholars such as Buckton and Hahnloser. However, they and similar examples, in collections in Greece and Germany, have received relatively little sustained scholarly attention, beyond essential dating and stylistic analysis.

Their array of diverse and precious materials are products of synthesis, of gathering and collecting. My thesis seeks to ground these objects in the mining, trading and working processes which transformed their various raw materials into the highly crafted chalices and patens we see today.  It asks how the shape and appearance of the objects and their materials propose a dynamic exchange between earthly and spiritual value and asked the Byzantine viewer to think an economic history back into them.


  • PhD Candidate, Courtauld Institute of Art, (2017-present)
  • MA History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art, (2015-2016)
    • Topic  – Byzantium and its Rivals: art, display and cultural identity in the Christian and Islamic Mediterranean
    • Thesis Title – “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God”: Mapping Spatial and Temporal Imperium in the Christ Pantokrator Zodiac
  • BA Classics, University of Cambridge, (2010-2013)

Research Interests

  • Middle Byzantine Art
  • The Eucharist
  • Materiality
  • Epigraphy
  • Mining
  • Guilds


  • MA Core Methodology, The Courtauld Institute of Art, October-December 2019
  • Classical and Byzantine Art, BA1 Foundations, The Courtauld Institute of Art, October 2019

Conference Papers

  • ‘O Taste and See: The Materiality of the Middle Byzantine Eucharist’ Byzantine Materiality – Sacred Arts Initiative, St Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary, New York, USA, 08/05/2019-11/05/2019
  • ‘Confrontations of Value: Bessarion, Bellini and Byzantine Materiality’ Same Old Things? Re-Telling The Italian Renaissance – Renaissance Postgraduate Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 03/05/2019
  • ‘Miniature Materials/Concrete Connections: The Spaces of Byzantine Liturgical Objects’ Scaling the Middle Ages: Size and Scale in Medieval Art – Medieval Postgraduate Colloquium The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 08/02/2019
  • ‘What do Magritte and the Messiah have in Common?’ RESFest x Belfast 2018, The Ulster Museum, Belfast, 25/10/2018
  • ‘Motion Sickness: Reading, Viewing, and Byzantine Inscriptions That Just Won’t Sit Still’ Visuality of Text: Interdisciplinary approaches to the display of the word’, The University of Warwick, 20/10/2018

Other Academic Activities

  • Co-Editor-in-Chief, immediations, the peer-reviewed postgraduate journal of the Courtauld Institute of Art, 2019
  • Editorial Board, immediations, the peer-reviewed postgraduate journal of the Courtauld Institute of Art, 2018