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Art Pursuits Abroad specialises in Art History and Architectural Cultural Study Tour Holidays in Europe and beyond.

Music in Art: Mediaeval

19 Feb 2018

Full day: £90.00

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Music in Art: Mediaeval Study Day

Music was a fundamental component of ecclesiastical and secular life in the Mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque periods, valued as a means of praising God and celebrating more earthly emotions. This short course will explore a wide variety of images of music-making from circa 800-1700, in diverse contexts, from across Europe.

In the Middle Ages, sacred representations of music-making range from Psalter manuscripts and liturgical books to the sculptures adorning church portals, capitals and ceilings. The margins of books associated with courtly entertainment and love are populated with humans and animals making music or dancing, while tapestries, such as the Lady and the Unicorn, now in the Cluny Museum, Paris, include musical instruments in their complex iconographic programmes. In the Renaissance, an era that saw the development of sacred polyphony and secular song, representations of music-making occur in increasingly varied contexts, from the sacred — famously, Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece and Della Robbia’s Cantoria — to depictions of courtly entertainments. In Italy, classical antiquity inspired new allegorical and mythological subjects, such as the Muses, while for Bosch and Bruegel, music-making and musical instruments had more negative, often sexual, connotations. Further developments took place in the 17th century, not only in religious music but also in a wider social context. Secular music playing in palaces and on the street is reflected in the paintings of Caravaggio, although the most varied and fascinating depictions occur in the middle-class Dutch Republic, from Jan Steen’s rowdy scenes of peasants playing, singing and dancing, to Vermeer’s more decorous images of wealthy social gatherings.

Music in Art, Day 1: Mediaeval

Music-making was an important component of medieval ecclesiastical and secular life; valued as a means of praising God and celebrating more earthly emotions. This study day will explore a wide variety of images of music-making, located in diverse contexts and inspired by various motivations.

Morning Lectures: Music Making in the Sacred Realm

Two morning sessions will explore the development of musical notation and focus upon the sacred realm. We will consider manuscript illuminations of King David with musicians in Psalters; historiated initials in musical liturgical books; sculpture such as the choir hemi-cycle capitals illustrating the musical tones from Cluny Abbey; portal sculpture of the Twenty-Four Elders playing instruments; and musical angels on the “angel-roofs” of East Anglia.

Afternoon Lectures: Music Making in the Profane Realm

Two afternoon sessions will concentrate on the profane world, where secular music making was associated with entertainment and courtly love. In books made for secular patrons, the margins were populated with humans, animals and lewd, hybrids making and listening to music; and tapestries, celebrating marriage alliances, such as the Lady and the Unicorn set, now in Paris, include musical instruments in their iconographic programmes.

This is a new format Study Day series which will consist of three full Study Days, each of which will be comprised of four, fifty-minute lectures between the hours of 11am and 4pm. The day’s structure will be similar to that of our standard Study Days, with refreshment breaks (included) and a lunch break between 1pm-2pm (lunch not included).

Similar to our Short Course format, this series has been devised in such a way that each day will inform and relate to the next. However, booking for individual days will also be possible. Please note that if you wish to book all three days, you will need to telephone our offices to recieve the full series discounted price of £240.

Study Day Programme:


Music Making in the Sacred Realm
Dr Sally Dormer (V & A)


Music Making in the Sacred Realm (cont.)
Dr Sally Dormer (V & A)


Lunch (Not Included)


Music Making in the Profane Realm
Dr Sally Dormer (V & A)


Music Making in the Profane Realm (cont.)
Dr Sally Dormer (V & A)


Study Day Location:

Art Workers Guild
6 Queen Square

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Each Study Day is is made up of a morning and an afternoon session. There will short refreshments breaks throughout the day between lectures. Study Notes and suggestions for further reading will be provided.

Art Pursuits Abroad Art History Study Days are generally held at the Art Workers Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AT. The nearest tube station is Russell Square. We know that the chairs, whilst beautifully designed, are not the most comfortable, so do bring a cushion for padding.

Numbers are normally limited to a maximum of 70 participants or less per Study Day to ensure a personal atmosphere conducive to interactive learning with pleasure. Bookings are non-refundable, though you may transfer your booking to another participant.

How to Book:

You can book on-line or ring us on 01280 820521 (we can take a card payment over the phone) or write to us - see our address details below.

Once booked, we will then send you confirmation of your Study Day place(s), a map of how to find us, and suggestions for preparatory reading should you wish to do any. Booking payments are non-refundable, though you may transfer your booking to another participant.

We only accept payment in British Pounds (GBP) and accept the following types of cards only:

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An on-line booking may be cancelled within 7 days of the booking being made and the associated on-line payment will be refunded less an administration charge. We would need to be informed of the cancellation in writing within the 7 day period. Our normal booking terms and conditions will also apply.

Art Pursuits Abroad will not have access to any of the card details that you provide to WorldPay when you make your payment.


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