Call For Papers – Gothic Ivory Sculpture: Old Questions, New Directions

Gothic Ivory Sculpture: Old Questions, New Directions
Friday 23rd March 2012, Sackler Centre, Victoria and Albert Museum

Proposals are invited for papers to be presented at this one-day conference, jointly organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Courtauld Gothic Ivories Project, to be held at the V&A in 2012. The papers will be presented in three sessions, each composed of three speakers, with papers lasting twenty minutes.

The conference takes as its starting point the observation that in recent years there has been an unprecedented revival of scholarly activity in the study of Gothic ivory carvings, a class of object which survives in large numbers (nearly 4,000 known examples), but which has largely been regarded as an area of minor interest by medieval art historians. In recent years, led by such scholars as Danielle Gaborit-Chopin and Charles Little, much new work has been carried out on these artworks, ranging from the re-dating of accepted groupings, to detailed analysis of individual pieces. A particular impetus has been given to the field thanks to the inception of the Gothic Ivories Project ( at the Courtauld Institute of Art, which aims to provide catalogue records and images of the majority of the surviving works scattered around the world. In parallel, the V&A will shortly issue a comprehensive new scholarly catalogue of its holdings in this area, one of the most important collections in the world.

Papers are invited on a wide variety of themes and topics emerging from the study of gothic ivory carving. These may range from the focused study of individual objects or groups from a physical, iconographic or stylistic standpoint, to more synthetic approaches seeking to contextualise ivory carving in terms of its relationships to other media, ownership or use. A further issue for discussion will be the afterlives (nachleben) of gothic ivory carvings, both in private collections and in museums. Any discussion of gothic ivories also raises the issue of authenticity, restoration and forgeries, and proposals for papers on these topics would also be welcomed.

Proposals should take the form of a short text of one or two paragraphs, outlining the paper’s title, the main themes to be considered, and the objects on which the study will concentrate. Some indication of where the research sits within the historiography would also be of use.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, 7th November. Potential speakers should be contacted about whether or not their paper has been accepted by the first week of December.

Contacts: Glyn Davies ( and Catherine Yvard (

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