Cecily Hughes, a second-year doctoral student in the department of Art History and Art studying with Professor Elina Gertsman, was surprised and delighted to learn that a painting she researched and wrote about for a private dealer had just been purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Bélizaire and the Frey Children,” was painted in 1837 and attributed to the painter Jacques Guillaume Lucien Amans (c.1801-1888). The New York Times ran a short video feature on the acquisition and the painting’s vexed history, a tale of the erasure and rediscovery of a Black enslaved person. While the likeness of a young Black man was featured in the original canvas, it was then painted out, only to be uncovered through later conservation. Now identified as the fifteen-year-old Bélizaire (b.1822–d. after 1860), the sitter was an enslaved domestic purchased by Frederick Frey of New Orleans, Louisiana on 16 February, 1828. Read an excerpt from Cecily’s report by clicking below.
The most recent issue of the news bulletin published by the International Center of Medieval Art has a plethora of features penned by our grad students! Claudia Haines writes about her ICMA-sponsored session, “Digital Medievalism,” at the 2023 Association for Art History Annual Conference at University College London (pp. 15-16). Rebekkah Hart offers an astute review of Riemenschneider and Late Medieval Alabaster exhibition, which just closed at the Cleveland Museum of Art (pp. 51-54). And Cecily Hughes, Reed O’Mara, Sam Truman, and Angie Verduci celebrate Prof. Gertsman’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies in a simultaneously heartfelt and hilarious reflection on her pedagogy and mentorship (pp. 41-43). Read these excerpts here.
Congratulations to Dr. Elina Gertsman, professor of medieval art and Archbishop Paul J. Hallinan Professor in Catholic Studies II, on winning the 2023 Otto Gründler prize for The Absent Image: Lacunae in Medieval Books. Given annually, the Otto Gründler Book Prize recognizes a monograph on a medieval subject that the selection committee determines has made an outstanding contribution to the field. Authors from any country are eligible, and nominations are accepted from readers and publishers. This is not the first honor for The Absent Image, which received the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award from College Art Association in 2022.
Please join us at 4:30 on Thursday, February 16, at the Baker-Nord Center (Clark Hall Room 206, 11130 Bellflower Road), for the Graduate Work-in-Progress talk by Reed O’Mara, “Idol Viewing and Idle Viewing: Exploring Erasures in the Munich Rashi.” Reed will discuss one of the earliest extant illuminated Hebrew manuscripts from Europe, the so-called Munich Rashi, copied in Germany in the 1230s for a wealthy Jewish patron. The commentary has an incomplete image cycle and several of its surviving paintings have been partially erased. In her lecture, Reed will consider the manuscript’s images in dialogue, addressing the way that the erasures wrought upon these images may have affected medieval viewers, and their perception of both the divine and images of the divine.
On Friday, September 30, Reed O’Mara presented a paper on the Golden Haggadah at the VI Forum Kunst des Mittelalters in Frankfurt, in the session organized by Professor Gertsman and sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art. Speakers came from Austria, Israel, and the US to discuss the intertwinement of olfaction and memory in medieval material culture. The joint program was also represented by Dr. Lutz who organized a session on the Cleveland’s Table Fountain.