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The Architectural Setting of English Romanesque Sculpture

The Architectural Setting of English Romanesque Sculpture

Lecture by Malcolm Thurlby

Given at the Courtauld Institute of Art on April 24, 2018

In this lecture, Malcolm Thurlby considers English Romanesque sculpture in the context of its architectural matrix, focusing on specific carved elements such as portals, tympana, capitals, and figural reliefs. He sets out to demonstrate the fundamental importance of forensic visual analysis to our understanding of a Romanesque building and its ornament, most notably where documentary information is lacking. The diagnostic potential of a range of material evidence – painted decoration, the use of stucco, the work of 19th-century copyists – is seen to support proposed dating sequences at a number of monuments, including the cathedrals of Worcester, Hereford and Ely and the abbey at Malmesbury, and at lesser churches such as Knook in Wiltshire, Leigh in Worcestershire, Milborne Port in Somerset, and Kirkburn in Yorkshire.

Malcolm Thurlby studied art history at the University of East Anglia. His PhD thesis on Transitional Sculpture in England 1150—1240 (1976) was supervised by Eric Fernie. He teaches art and architectural history at York University, Toronto. His research focuses on Romanesque and Gothic architecture and sculpture, and on 19th- and early 20th-century architecture in Canada. He concurs with Bishop John Medley (1804-92) that ‘some knowledge of Church Architecture ought, surely, to be a part of every liberal education.’

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