Medieval Faculty Colloquium | Making Things Up: Improvisation in the Illustrated ‘Cantigas de Santa María’
Department of Art & Archaeology
Wed, 3/29 · 12:00 pm—1:20 pm · TBA
The Program in Medieval Studies is pleased to offer the Faculty Colloquium series for Spring 2023. Pamela Patton (Art and Archaeology) will present this lunchtime talk on Wednesday, March 29.
Patton’s project-in-progress examines artistic improvisation in the two illustrated Cantigas de Santa María manuscripts now in the Escorial (RBME, MS T-I-1) and Florence (Bib. Naz. MS b.r. 20). The creativity of these visual narratives, made to accompany the text and music of the Cantigas when they were set down in a pair of deluxe codices around 1280 at the Sevillian court of their patron, King Alfonso X of Castile, has been widely recognized. Yet the degree to which the illustrations diverge from their companion texts—embroidering, revising, even subverting the details of the written/sung narratives—suggests an autonomy and even haphazardness that stands at odds with the modern vision of a well-ordered royal scriptorium. Patton’s project postulates that the rampant improvisations of the Cantigas illustrations reflect both the freedom enjoyed and the pressure endured by an atelier struggling to satisfy a prolific royal patron under challenging conditions.