The Treasury of San Isidoro de León and its Global Connections
Sponsor: International Center of Medieval Art – ICMA, New York
Organizer: Jitske Jasperse (Madrid)
Liturgical objects from the San Isidoro treasury – in situ and at the Museo Arqueológico Nacional in Madrid –, present a golden opportunity to be studied as a multi‐layered collection with largely untold stories. Such an unusual gathering of metalworks, silks, and ivories locates the capital city of León as a contact zone for artistic production and the exchange of materials, ideas and craftsmanship between the wider world and Christian Spain. The study of (supposedly) Islamic luxury items – such as ivories and textiles – points out that transcultural contact offers a fresh perspective on centres of production, patronage and fashion for the central Middle Ages. Transcultural objects also challenge us to (re)consider why and how some pieces – initially not meant to function in an ecclesiastical context – ended up in churches and how this affected their meaning. At the same time, San Isidoro’s treasury contains a variety of objects from the eleventh and twelfth centuries that seem to be made for, or intended to be given to, that monastery from the start. A closer study, however, reveals that elements of the treasury’s history were fabricated and manipulated through these very objects, their materials, and inscriptions.
How then did this treasury work, and who was involved in collecting these pieces from Egypt, al‐Andalus, Sicily and beyond? What were its underlying principles, and were such stories confirmed by the presence of other ‘exotic’ objects? These questions apply both to the medieval moment in a monastic setting and to the nineteenth‐ and twentieth‐century display of San Isidoro’s treasury for secular publics. San Isidoro’s museum and the Museo Arqueológico Nacional have stories to tell about treasuries, the Middle Ages and cross‐cultural exchange. How are narratives concerning religious and geographical boundaries communicated? This session aims to unfold the multiple stories behind San Isidoro’s treasury and the impact of exchange on the formation of collections in the Middle Ages and beyond.
Please send your paper proposals of max. 1 page to firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: October 31, 2016