Call for Papers | Medieval Manuscripts in the Eighteenth Century

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on December 30, 2012

Collections, remaniements, expositions: Les vies du manuscrit médiéval
aux périodes moderne et contemporaine
Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Paris, 18 November 2013

Proposals due by 19 May 2013


Saint Jean à Pathmos. Heures d’Étienne Chevalier, enluminées par Jean Fouquet (Chantilly: Musée Condé) Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Dismantled codices, where pages have been extracted from their original contexts, have provided museums with important examples of medieval and Renaissance illumination. Although artists of the late medieval period began to create single-leaf illuminations, many of the pages donated and purchased by museums resulted from the cutting and reshaping of complete manuscripts during the eighteenth century, a phenomenon which was spurred by changing collecting practices that favoured the presentation of single objects as a works of art.

Despite their importance to the history of the book, these objects are rarely displayed, little studied, and generally unknown. In the fall of 2013, a series of three exhibitions will be presented in collaboration with the INHA (the French National Institute for Art History): the first at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers, followed by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, and then the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse. These exhibitions, which will help to inform audiences about this fragile heritage, will bring together objects from the collections of museums and learned societies in regions such as the Centre and Pays de la Loire, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardy and
Champagne-Ardenne, Midi-Pyrénées and Languedoc-Roussillon.

To mark this occasion, the INHA will organize a one day conference on the 18th of November, 2013. This Journée d’études will consider the history of modern and contemporary manuscript collections, paying special attention to the practice of cutting, pasting, and revising medieval works during the eighteenth century. Issues relating to the conservation, restoration, and exhibition of these objects in museums will also be taken into account.

The famous manuscripts known as the Hours of Etienne Chevalier by Jean Fouquet is an example of this phenomenon. Dismembered during the eighteenth century, its miniatures were pasted on panels to create independent images satisfying the desires of collectors. For both economic and aesthetic reasons, the history of medieval books is full of similar examples of assembly from several manuscripts, collections of initials, and detached single leaves. Such practices reveal the tastes and the aspirations of collectors, some of whom were famous for their approach to illuminated manuscripts (J. Granger and J. Bagford during the eighteenth century, or Luigi Celotti during the nineteenth century). Collectors and learned societies played an important role in the constitution of certain collections, facilitating the preservation of many illuminated works. Papers may thus address the following questions:

• Practices of collectors concerning illuminated manuscripts from the beginning of the modern era to the contemporary period (cutting, reshaping, destruction, creation of false/fakes/false leaves, etc.)
• The development of manuscripts collections in museums
• The conservation, restoration and presentation of manuscripts in museums or private collections and learned societies from the nineteenth century to the present day

Communications in English, French or Italian. Please send an abstract of 250 words with a CV (maximum two pages) to Tania Lévy (tlevy@info-histoire.com) and Judith Soria (judith.soria@yahoo.fr) before the May 19th, 2013. The program will be announced in July 2013.

For the call for papers in French, click here»