CFP: Owning Gothic Ivories: Buying, Giving, Circulating (25-26 October 2024 / London, British Museum and V&A)

Over the last three decades, research on Gothic ivories has seen a significant shift from studies concerned with stylistic attribution and classification towards the investigation of their materiality, iconography, function, and – last but not least – patronage.

Although we now have a much better understanding of the social, devotional, and cultural contexts in which especially religious ivories were commissioned and produced, overall, we still know comparatively little about the owners of Gothic ivories. This is especially true for the secular sphere, where it has not yet been possible to link any surviving fourteenth-century carving to its first owner.

This conference aims to return to the question of the ownership of Gothic ivories, an area which offers great potential for further discoveries, particularly (but not only) through the combination of art historical object analysis with evaluations of contemporary written sources such as inventories, wills, and other documents. Illuminating the stories of historic owners, be they individuals or institutions, and their Gothic ivories is the first aim of this two-day conference, while the second is to shed light on the later life of these objects, and on their transition into new ownership contexts and uses.

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