Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece
The College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA)
25 March 2023
The 2023 New England Medieval Consortium conference will be held in conjunction with an NEH-supported exhibition of the same name (26 January to 6 April 2023) at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.
- Lloyd de Beer, the British Museum
- Paroma Chatterjee, University of Michigan
- Paul Cobb, University of Pennsylvania
- Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
- Sarah Guerin, University of Pennsylvania
- Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
- Eva Hoffman, Tufts University
- Richard Leson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
- Amanda Luyster, College of the Holy Cross
- Suleiman Mourad, Smith College
- Nicholas Paul, Fordham University
- Matthew Reeve, Queen’s University
- Euan Roger, National Archives, Kew
- Naomi Speakman, the British Museum
- Elizabeth Williams, Dumbarton Oaks
Bringing the Holy Land Home reveals the impact that art objects manufactured far away, particularly in the Byzantine and Islamic Mediterranean, had on the medieval visual culture of England and western Europe. The exhibition takes as its starting point the iconic Chertsey tiles, on loan from the British Museum, including the Richard the Lionheart and Saladin combat tiles. This exhibition reframes the combat tile mosaic in light of a recent digital reconstruction completed by an international team, headed by Guest Curator Amanda Luyster. This digital reconstruction, which includes both images and lost Latin text, demonstrates not only that the theme of the entire mosaic is the Crusades, but also that its composition draws from imported Islamic and Byzantine silks, often carried home by returning Crusaders. The Crusading rhetoric of the tiles, in which English victory is proclaimed over their foreign opponents, thereby relies on visual traditions developed and perfected by Muslim and Byzantine artists in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Chertsey tiles are displayed in dialogue with materials from the Byzantine and Islamic worlds, including ceramics, metalwork, liturgical objects, weapons, and textiles, as well as western European objects that incorporated or were impacted by imported objects. This exhibition draws from the collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the British Museum; the Dumbarton Oaks Collection in Washington, DC; Harvard University Art Museums; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City; and the Worcester Art Museum.
The exhibition has been awarded generous support from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the International Center of Medieval Art, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Associated research was funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art. The conference is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Rev. Michael C. McFarland S. J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at Holy Cross.
For more information about the conference, please contact Amanda Luyster.
According to NEMC’s regional rotation, the 2024 conference will meet at an institution in eastern Massachusetts or Rhode Island.