Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Renaissance Magazine Newsletter #24


Centuries-Old Dutch Renaissance Faces Make Hilarious New iPhone Emoji

There’s a real art to finding the perfect emoji, image, or GIF to respond to a text. And for Molly Young, there is no better source than early Netherlandish portraits.

“If you can find a person in a Breugel painting who reflects your current mood, it’s very satisfying,” says Young, a copy director at Warby Parker and a writer. “They’re just so much more expressive than these little yellow smiley faces.”

Young is now sharing that unique sense of satisfaction with a new iOS app called Rejoinders, which she created with her partner Teddy Blanks, a founder of the Brooklyn-based design studio CHIPS. The idea for the app was seeded when Young became obsessed with the strangely mature face of a baby in a 16th century painting after seeing it up for auction at Sotheby’s….

Complete article and images:

Medieval and Renaissance Study in Italy

The University of Arkansas Rome Campus and the Medieval and Renaissance Program are offering two opportunities to study in Rome in 2017.

During Summer Session 2, students can take two 3000-level courses for a variety of humanities credit. During fall semester, students can enroll for 15 (or more) hours of credit.

For more information contact professor William A. Quinn, director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 575-5988,

Scarborough Renaissance Festival

Scarborough Renaissance Festival® has announced that Barbara Geary has been named its new Entertainment Director.  Barbara will take over the reins of Entertainment Director in January, 2017 in anticipation of Scarborough’s 37th season.

Ms. Geary has an extensive background within the Renaissance Festival community including tenures at Sterling, Colorado, Maryland, Kansas City, Texas, Pennsylvania, Sarasota and Florida Renaissance Festivals along with a performing stint at Scarborough.   In addition Barbara has a tremendous background in performance, teaching, directing, costuming, stage production, film & television and theater management.  Barbara is also a talented artist.

From the The Advertising Specialty Institute:

From August through October, Mount Hope Estate & Winery in Manheim, PA, transforms into an Elizabethan-themed village. Each season, the grounds come alive with jousting knights, serenading minstrels, parading royalty, traditional artisans and thousands of visitors cloaked in period costumes.

It’s the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire – one of the many large Renaissance festivals that provide fantasy fun for revelers and opportunity for distributors.

Fairs that run for at least two weekends or more are found across the country. The Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, TX, the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, WI, the Northern California Renaissance Faire in Hollister, CA, and the Florida Renaissance Festival in Deerfield Beach, FL, are just a few of many similar standout events.

There’s certainly a great chance you can find a festival in your neck of the woods as well – and at all times of the year depending on your locale.

And that’s good news, as this entertaining niche harbors ample sales potential. To maximize the possibilities, try the following:

Provide Fair Swag:

Attendees often want to buy fair-branded merchandise. Be the one to provide these items. T-shirts and drinkware like pint glasses can prove popular. So can more historically-themed quaffing vessels: This past season, for example, the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire had ceramic ale mugs and chalices for sale, as well as cool T-shirts.

To get the orders going, head to festival websites and do some social media searching to identify organizers. After making contact, consider creating virtual samples that show unique artwork that ties into the themes and performance storylines of the festival.

Connect Merchants With Branded Gear:

Festivals typically host a variety of merchants and artisans selling everything from clothing, candles, jewelry and scents to pottery, paintings, woodcrafts, glasswork, toys and more. All are potential clients.

Possible products include eco-friendly totes, gift boxes and branded gift-with-purchase items that relate to the character of the business. Retailable items are an option, too. A candle maker, for instance, might want to sell organic cotton T-shirts and lighters or matches that bear the business’s branding. Remember, also, that festivalgoers spend a lot of time outside at what can be crowded events. As such, inexpensive giveaways like sunscreen, lip balm with SPF and hand sanitizer can win vendors points with attendees.

Help Performers Build Their Audience:

Festivals directly employ staff that can include performers, but there are also independently contracted performers that range from musical groups to acrobats who delight crowds. Attempt to turn the contracted acts into customers. For instance, a band specializing in Irish music may come to perform at Celtic-themed weekends. Seek to provide such an act with concert-style merchandise like tees, vinyl stickers, pub caps, buttons and even tech items like earbuds...

Complete article:

Past Faires

Alabama Renaissance Faire

The Alabama Renaissance Faire took place Oct. 22–23..,

There were several new features this year, such as archery, group participatory dancing and a medieval woodworker…

Visitors  had a chance to shoot a crossbow and two or three long bows made in medieval fashion.with blunt arrows of course,” Warren said.

Visitors also had the chance to buy handcrafted items made out of iron while people watch

They Faire’s standard features included Kazoky, performing their sword fighting routine…

  Complete article

  Also see:

Also see:

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Article and Video:

Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire



Knights in shining armour strive with sword and shield

Picture a meadow ringed with bright pavilions, with pennons flying overhead.  Noble lords and ladies watch the center of the meadows, where knights in armour strive with sword and shield.  Minstrels play lutes and harps, singing songs of love or battle…

The SCA is an international non-profit educational organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. The SCA’s “known world” consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which feature tournaments, royal courts, feasts, dancing, various classes, workshops, and more….

The arts and sciences brings authenticity to what members do in the SCA. The clothing they wear, the encampments they sleep in and the items they use…

Rapier was a form of fighting that came about in the later years (about late 1400’s) and was more of a courtly style of fighting, and is more comparable to the Three Musketeers. Unlike armoured combat, it’s fought to the touch and is not based on force. It is fought with steel swords and is based on honour and chivalry. Like armoured combat, a winner is decided between the fighters not a judge and there are tournaments, small wars and large wars to participate in...

The Shire of Ramsgaard will be holding celebrations and competitions in 2017 in Barriere at the North Thompson Agriplex on Apr. 28-30, and Oct. 13 - 15. Find out how you can join and participate by going to:

ARMA - Association for Renaissance Martial Arts

…A study group meant to delve headfirst into the age-old tradition of swordsmanship and sizzling prizefighting, ARMA is unique in its ability to blend practical application with verifiable study of the topic.

“It is the study of the fighting arts of the Renaissance and late medieval Europe,” said study group leader Ben Morgan. “We aren’t a live-action role-play group or a cult — we have materials that we study and techniques that we develop.”
The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship, a textbook of sorts, is according to Morgan the oldest complete manual showcasing the skills of age-old knights...

The edges and points of the metal swords used by ARMA have been dulled for the safety of members and any possible bystanders, though the capacity for injury still remains.

Morgan demonstrates elements of the combative stances, holding his tools as he would in preparation for a sparring match — in one hand a sword, and in the other a small shield known as a “buckler.”

“Most of the time, when people think of a shield, they think of this big frame for blocking,” he said. “A buckler is meant to be used as a weapon as well — it’s really just a big metal fist...”

Group members meet every two years in Houston for their ARMA International conference, where members from around the globe come together to appreciate the history and the romantic culture behind an art form largely lost to time.

“The last one was in July 2015,” Morgan said. “So the upcoming event should be at that time in 2017.”
Morgan added that the group does its utmost to stick with the same methods and tactics that were used hundreds of years ago, though it does alter certain aspects of the martial art.

“The only real deviation is the head and facial protection that we use,” he said. “Even the swords that we use are exact replicas of the ones used in that time, weight and everything.”

Renaissance Faire People

Nigel Sade and Sarah Wilkinson

Head east through the grounds of the Texas Renaissance Festival, past the King's Arm Feast Hall, and you'll walk past a little cottage whose walls are adorned with prints of intricately painted, skeletal women and images of the Doctor Who Tardis swirling through space. That's the booth of artists Sarah Wilkinson and Nigel Sade, who are the rarest type of artists: the non-starving kind...

Artists are taught to wait to be discovered, Sade said, not to forge their own business plan for commercial success – which is what he and Wilkinson have done, through a combination of working with licensed properties and selling original work, often by traveling to attend conventions and events like renaissance fairs. This is their first year at the Texas RenFest…

Wilkinson and Sade's art will be on display and for sale every weekend of the Faire. Wilkinson and Sade will attend the RenFest in person during the weekends of November 5, November 12 and November 26.

Lee Freeman, Alabama Renaissance Faire

During Roundtable meetings of the Alabama Renaissance Faire, it is a tradition to reserve a portion of the gathering for trivia on that period of history.

As part of that, Lee Freeman, who has worked with the Roundtable for years, often distributes a list of terms and definitions pertaining to the Middle Ages…

The lists prompted Roundtable members to ask Freeman if he'd ever considered compiling the terms into a book…

The book, "Medievalspeak," has quickly become popular with fans of the Renaissance Faire, which was last weekend.

The book is $11.99 with 50 percent of the proceeds going to the Renaissance Faire. Freeman said it was important to him to give to the event.

"We're a poor kingdom," he said jokingly. "We could always use a little more in the coffers. And I really don't care if I make money off this. If I break even, that's fine. If I don't even do that, that's fine."
He said it is important to himself to educate people about the Middle Ages…

The book mainly serves as a glossary of terms. The pages aren't numbered but the phrases are alphabetical. Freeman said when he turned in the document, it was a Microsoft document that was 70-80 pages, with about 15-20 terms and definitions per page.

"It's mostly medieval terms, but also includes saints from during that time who were important to the church, different parts of armor, terms dealing with jousting, and fashion of the day," he said.

John Givens, a volunteer with the Renaissance Faire, posed in a plate armor harness and also allowed other aspects of his collection, such as various swords, to be photographed for the book. …


The Botticelli rooms at Florence’s Uffizi gallery have reopened

The Botticelli rooms at the Uffizi gallery in Florence have just reopened to the public after a $1m renovation. With better lighting, air quality and visibility, the new spaces show off works from one of the greatest artists of all time in a whole new light…

The renovations give more breathing space to all the works featured in the seven rooms, including pieces such as Primavera and the Portinari Triptych by Flemish artist Hugo van der Goes, both of which visitors will have a better view of, and can really take their time to study.

The galleries will also be getting a new addition: an Annunciation painted by Botticelli for the Hospital of San Martino in Florence’s via della Scala, which is nearly six metres wide...

Renaissance Architecture

...When King Francois I of France invaded Milan, he saw how the Renaissance culture had produced great works of art with humanist views of life and individual encouragement. He brought many Italian artists and architects back to the Loire Valley to work on his Chateau de Chambord. Among those eager to go was Leonardo da Vinci — with his Mona Lisa in hand.

Chambord was the largest chateau in the world until Chateau Versailles surpassed it in the 17th century. It became a blend of French Medieval and Classical Renaissance architecture. The interior layout was an early example of grouping rooms into self-contained suites. The centerpiece was a spectacular, open, double spiral staircase that ascended three floors without ever meeting, and was illuminated from above by a light house, of a sort. The chateau was surrounded by massive formal gardens, mostly edible, and fountains.

Without any symmetry in mind, 11 types of towers and three types of chimneys were built and framed by four massive towers at the corners. King Francois wanted Chambord to look like the skyline of Constantinople (written about in an earlier column)…

François was not the only king fascinated by the Italian Renaissance. The first Tudor king, Henry VII, ushered in the English Renaissance (and ushered out the Gothic era) but with more interest in music and literature than art and architecture. It wasn’t until Queen Elizabeth’s reign that the English Renaissance reached its height.

What about the great Renaissance cities of Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Brussels in the north? They were actually under the control of the dukes of Burgundy in France, so you could say they were part of the French Renaissance. However, since they were not closely located to Greece and Italy, they drew less upon Classical Antiquity and more on medieval traditions like oil painting. They developed glazes (thin paint), which, paired with the thickness of oils, were able to create texture, depth, and light. These were perfectly suited to represent the material reality that had been so important to Italian artists....

Two Terra-Cotta Works Said to Be by Donatello and Verrocchio

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo presented two little-known 15th-century terra-cotta sculptures as the possible work of Donatello and Verrocchio (with, perhaps, the help of Verrocchio’s erstwhile assistant Leonardo da Vinci), proposed attributions that are expected to stir debate in Renaissance art scholarship...

A bust was attributed to Donatello by the Renaissance sculpture scholar Francesco Caglioti after a decade-long investigation on stylistic and documentary grounds that was published in the specialist magazine Prospettiva two years ago. He wrote that it was created by Donatello around 1440, for the tympanum of a parish church in Borgo San Lorenzo, north of Florence..

In the case of the terra-cotta relief, the attribution is based on the strong similarities with a panel of the same subject done by Verrocchio for the so-called Silver Altar, which was commissioned by the cloth merchant’s guild for the Baptistery of Florence.
A comparison between the terra-cotta relief and the Silver Altar, which are exhibited side by side, might help shed some light on the question of whether Leonardo may have been involved in modeling some of the figures, a hypothesis recently raised by some scholars...

Complete article and pictures:

Renaissance Artifact Collections

At the beginning of the Renaissance, in the 16th century, aristocrats and scholars began to fill rooms with exotic artifacts from far-flung territories — horns said to have belonged to unicorns, brilliant red coral, animal skeletons, chalices made of silver or coconut shells — often displayed among Old Master paintings and sculptures.

Over time, the practice of collecting items for one’s “wunderkammer” (“cabinet of wonders”) became more and more elaborate. Kings would gift extraordinary objects to other rulers to impress them with their wealth, such as a windup automaton that poured wine or a boat carved of gold and set with hundreds of precious stones.

Perhaps one of the world’s greatest collections, which still exists, is the Green Vault, the treasure chamber of August the Strong, which reopened to the public in Dresden in 2004 and contains thousands of objects, from a cherry stone carved with over a hundred faces to the largest green-hued diamond in the world.

In the last few years, wunderkammers, and the objects found in these collections, have become exceedingly fashionable with contemporary art galleries and collectors. A leading hunter and expert of wunderkammer objects is Georg Laue of the Kunstkammer in Munich, a dizzying Aladdin’s Cave of rare historic pieces. Among them: a Renaissance-era trunk of carved ebony with secret drawers and a 17th-century automaton clock of a Moor with a dog and a monkey. (When the hour strikes, the dog jumps.)…

Complete article and pictures

The Art of Clara Peeters

The 200-year-old Museo del Prado in Madrid unveiled its first exhibition dedicated to a female artist today, 25 October (until 19 February 2017). The Art of Clara Peeters,,,

The modest one-room show reflects a slender, scantily documented oeuvre. Born in the late 1580s in Antwerp, Clara Peeters was a contemporary of the Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. She is named by a number of historical accounts as a painter based in Antwerp, though she was not a member of the city’s official guild. Only 11 of the 39 works attributed to Peeters are dated, the earliest of them to 1607 and the latest to 1621. She was, however, a pioneer of the still-life genre—the first artist to depict fish and hunting game as a main subject, according to the Prado—who sold her paintings through dealers to collections in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Madrid. …

The late Umberto Eco, the Italian novelist who set his murder mystery "The Name of the Rose" in a 14th-century Italian monastery, would have loved the Cleveland Museum of Art's new Focus Gallery exhibition on its celebrated French Gothic table fountain…

Standing slightly over a foot high, the table fountain, made largely in gilt silver with colorful panels of enamel, is a delicate, glittering mash-up of a Gothic cathedral and a Crusader castle configured in several tiers with pointed arches, finials, crenellated battlements and gargoyles…

Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures

Boxwood prayer beads, rosaries and miniature altarpieces made in Northern Europe during the early 1500s demonstrate the limitless potential of human artistic practice. These tiny masterpieces, small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, depict complex scenes with elegance and precision. Without fail, they inspire viewers to ask how a person could have possibly made them, a question that can only be answered today. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has joined forces with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to focus on these spectacular objects.

Debuting in Toronto on Nov. 5, 2016, Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, for the first time brings together more than 60 rare boxwood carvings from institutions and private collections across Europe and North America. The exhibition offers new insight into the methods of production and cultural significance of these awe-inspiring works of art. Highlighting the cutting edge technology used by curators and conservators in their search to understand these miniature sculptures, the exhibition runs until Jan. 22, 2017.

The Thomson Collection of European Art at the AGO is home to the world’s largest collection of 16th-century boxwood carving. The exhibition includes ten prayer beads and two miniature altarpieces from the Thomson Collection, the study of which has been ongoing.

Featuring both boxwood miniatures and related objects, several works in the exhibition have never before been seen in North American venues. Originally owned by Henry VIII, the magnificent Chatsworth Rosary (c. 1509–1526), makes its North American debut.

An online catalogue raisonné will provide generations of students and scholars unlimited access to these intricate and fragile works of art.  Including the first ever comprehensive photographic campaign of these works of art by AGO photographers, the catalogue will launch in tandem with the exhibition allowing visitors the opportunity to view the works in unprecedented detail. Featuring a discussion of how these works of art were used, as well as technical analysis of their mechanics and design, this extensive online publication will include essays written by leading scholars, curators and conservators.

Following its debut at the AGO, the exhibition will travel to New York to appear at the The Met Cloisters at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Feb. 21, 2017, before travelling to the Rijksmuseum on June 15, 2017.

Renaissance Maiolica: Painted Pottery for Shelf and Table

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
October 20, 2016–May 29, 2017

This exhibition of Renaissance maiolica from The Met’s world-renowned collection celebrates the publication of Maiolica, Italian Renaissance Ceramics in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Timothy Wilson. As Wilson has written, “Painted pottery, at its most ambitious, is a serious form of Italian Renaissance art, with much to offer those interested in the wider culture of this astoundingly creative period.” This creativity was applied to a vast range of practical objects. Renaissance Maiolica: Painted Pottery for Shelf and Table explores the relationships among decoration, function, and display so critical to maiolica and yet so different from those of canvas or panel paintings of the same period. It includes tableware and serving vessels, desk accessories, storage containers, devotional objects, as well as sculpture, all made in painted and tin-glazed earthenware.

The maiolica tradition flourished from the 15th to the 17th century. Italian potters transformed techniques that they owed to the Islamic world into something entirely unprecedented, and in turn laid the foundations for other tin-glazed pottery traditions in Europe. Renaissance potters and pottery painters exploited innovations of the Renaissance goldsmith, sculptor, and painter in what was a relatively humble medium. That it was owned by the social elite of Italy testifies, however, to its artistic value.

Renaissance Maiolica explores how the different functions of painted pottery dictated the ways it was seen and decorated. Groups of objects are installed in displays suggestive of their use. An assembly of storage jars give a sense of a pharmacist’s shop. Among the tableware on display are istoriato plates and dishes—their surfaces covered with scenes from mythology and ancient history—from important services commissioned by leading Italian families. The exhibition also shows maiolica-makers using ceramic, glaze, and pigments to compete with other art forms, including a Madonna and Child that imitates a framed panel painting. Also on view is a stunning Lamentation sculpture that likely once functioned as an altarpiece. It is the largest known example of sculptural maiolica to survive and has not been on public view in recent years.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, Maiolica, Italian Renaissance Ceramics in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Timothy Wilson, with an essay by Luke Syson, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Chairman of the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Met. Timothy Hugh Wilson is Barrie and Deedee Wigmore Research Keeper in the Department of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum, Professor of the Arts of the Renaissance, and Professorial Fellow (Garlick Fellow) of Balliol College at the University of Oxford. He has published widely on many areas of Renaissance art, including metalwork, prints and drawings, iconography and heraldry, and is above all a leading scholar of Renaissance ceramics, particularly Italian maiolica.

Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery

Victoria & Albert Museum London
1 October 2016 - 5 February 2017.

Masterpieces of English medieval embroidery from the V&A’s world-class collections are reunited with works returning to England for the first time since they were created 700 years ago, in the largest exhibition on the subject in half a century. Due to the age and extreme fragility of these dazzling embroideries, the show, which runs until 5 February 2017 at the Museum, is probably the last time an exhibition of such scale will ever be staged.

Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery displays over 100 exquisite hand-made objects associated with some of the most notable figures of the Middle Ages, from Edward I and his Queen Eleanor of Castile to Edward the Black Prince and the sainted martyr Thomas Becket. Latin for ‘English work’, the phrase ‘opus anglicanum’ was first coined in the 13th century to describe the highly-prized and luxurious embroideries made in England of silk and gold and silver thread, teeming with elaborate imagery.

The V&A holds the largest collection of these works in the world, and for the first time, the exhibition sheds significant new light on the materials and makers behind these sumptuous embroideries, both men and women, many of whom were based in the City of London – medieval England’s creative hub.

From the 12th to the 15th centuries, England enjoyed an international reputation for the quality of its luxury embroideries, which were sought after by kings, queens, popes and cardinals throughout Europe. The exhibition presents an outstanding range of rare, surviving examples – both ecclesiastical and secular – from this celebrated period in England's artistic production, to highlight their exquisite craftsmanship and to explore the world in which these works were created.

Magnificent embroideries, the earliest a seal-bag dated to 1100 - 1140 made to contain the seal from a foundation document of Westminster Abbey, are displayed alongside related works in other media from the period, including panel paintings, manuscripts, metalwork and sculpture to show connections in artistic production.

Glyn Davies, exhibition co-curator, said: “As a historian, the opportunity to see all these objects, normally scattered across museums and cathedral treasuries in Europe and North America, together in one place is thrilling, and a privilege we are unlikely to have again. We are grateful to all lenders who have generously agreed to lend works to enable us to stage such an ambitious exhibition. Medieval England enjoyed an international reputation for the quality of its embroidery. This exhibition shows English art on a European stage.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a new publication co-published by the V&A and Yale University Press. The book is a complete introduction to the design, production and use of luxury embroideries in medieval England.

·  A number of embroidery-focused events, short courses and practical workshops complement the exhibition.

·  The V&A holds the world’s largest collection of medieval English embroidery, both on display in the Museum’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries and available for study by appointment at the Clothworkers’ Centre housed in Kensington Olympia.

The exquisite attention to detail in these embroidered works makes them not just impressive examples of craftsmanship and luxury materials, but also vivid glimpses of life both in reality and in the medieval imagination. From the grim torture of martyred saints to a mother’s tender swaddling of her new-born baby, scenes are depicted with a meticulous precision that the sophisticated embroidery techniques made possible.

The exhibition explores the different phases in the technical, artistic and economic development of English medieval embroidery across three centuries. One of the most spectacular objects is the exquisite Toledo Cope from Toledo’s Catedral Primada de Santa Maria, which has returned to England for the first time since it was created 700 years ago. The piece is richly embroidered with foliage, masks and birds, as well as the Virgin Mary and saints, some of whom are shown trampling their tormentors.

Some of the earliest embroideries from the period survive today because they were interred during the burial rites of bishops and abbots. Highlights of these include an embroidered vestment associated with Thomas Becket, as well as other masterpieces produced for his friends and successor bishops at Canterbury. Becket’s imagery was disseminated widely, and the exhibition showcases some of the earliest examples demonstrating the popularisation of the Becket cult. The sumptuous Hólar Vestments depicting Icelandic saints, originally from the Cathedral church at Hólar in Iceland, are early examples of foreign bishops obtaining embroideries from England and travel from The National Museum of Iceland. Objects on display include stoles, maniples and episcopal stockings.

The exhibition also explores Westminster and the Royal Court between 1250 and 1325. Art produced at court during this period was incredibly influential. Treasures from the V&A’s collections, such as the Clare Chasuble, commissioned by Margaret de Clare, a member of one of England’s most powerful families, shows that wealthy women were also active patrons of work of this kind. The V&A’s richly-worked Jesse Cope depicting the Tree of Jesse – a vine springing from the body of Jesse, and sheltering prophets and ancestors of Christ –joins an intricately-decorated cope adorned with statuesque saints and angels from the collections of the Vatican Museums in Rome.

The heart of the exhibition focuses on the monumental embroidery created in the first half of the 14th century, when English embroidery achieved its greatest popularity and status in Europe. On display are some of the most complex and ambitious copes (ceremonial cloaks) ever made for use in church services. The Daroca Cope, which portrays scenes from the Creation of the World and Fall of Adam and Eve is one such unique survival, as Old Testament iconography was rarely depicted in English medieval embroidery. The cope has travelled to London from Madrid’s Museo Arqueológico Nacional.

Although documents show that many embroideries were made for secular use at the time, very few survive today as they were either worn out or became unfashionable and were discarded. On display are a few precious survivals, some of which are linked to Plantagenet kings of England, including part of a luxurious red velvet horse trapper probably made for Edward III’s court from the Musée de Cluny in Paris. An embroidered tunic worn by Edward the Black Prince, renowned for his role in the defeat of the French army at the Battle of Crécy, also features, on loan from Canterbury Cathedral. Also on show are embroidered seal bags linked to English monarchs, including Edward I.

The exhibition also explores the period from 1350 to the English Reformation of the 1530s. It considers the damaging impact of the Reformation on English embroidery, which led to the destruction of many precious embroidered church vestments. Those that survived were either altered to suit the new religious requirements; were taken abroad or were hidden by Catholic families concealing their faith. The growth of interest in medieval art during the 19th century is also explored. The movement championed by the V&A led to the rediscovery of opus anglicanum, admired for its quality and beauty. Here, a fragment of a vestment revered as a relic of Thomas Becket displayed in a 19th century reliquary case from Erdington Abbey brings the exhibition full-circle.

View individual pieces in the exhibition here:


Blackmore's Night

Blackmore's Night:  Ritchie Blackmore, Candice Night, Earl Grey of Chimay, Bard David of Larchmont,The Scarlett Fiddler, Lady Lynn, and Troubadour of Aberdeen...

Night was working at a local New York rock music radio station. When she first encountered Blackmore she asked him for an autograph. The two started living together in 1991. Both shared a passionate interest in Renaissance music...

In 1997 the project started as being a pun of their own names, which would consist of themselves plus session musicians. Their debut album Shadow of the Moon was a musical success...

Over time, Night has increasingly participated instrumentally as well as singing the vocals, and is competent in a wide variety of Renaissance instruments.

The group performs internationally, mainly in historical venues including castles theaters and opera houses for an audience dressed largely in period costume...

 Amy Haworth - The Tallis Scholars

IT is hard to think London-based soprano Amy Haworth has much free time in her schedule.  The Cambridge University graduate works as a chartered accountant for Deloitte LLP when she is not touring with British Renaissance vocal music ensemble The Tallis Scholars.

In fact, her time management skills were tested immediately when an invitation to fill in as a last-minute replacement for a Tallis Scholars concert in 2005 came the same weekend she started back at her office job after a two-year hiatus to concentrate on her singing.

“I hadn’t expected to be travelling as much as I am when I asked for my job back, but I’m very lucky that they’re very good about it,” Haworth said. I also happened to move into my new flat the same weekend as my first Tallis Scholars concert as well.”

Haworth began singing in the church choir when she was four, a natural development since her dad was the vicar and her mum the choir conductor, and she continued from there.

“I’d always done a little bit of renaissance music while growing up and when I went to university the director of music did a lot of renaissance music,” she said. …

Haworth will tour Australia with The Tallis Scholars in November, where a Perth performance at St Mary’s Cathedral will feature collaborating with members of the Perth Chamber Choir for Spem in Alium.

It will be her fourth trip to Australia, second with The Tallis Scholars and first to Perth, where she is looking forward to presenting another Thomas Tallis piece Suscipe quaeso...

Complete article:

Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars continue their complete survey of Josquin's Masses

As a Renaissance specialist I have always put Josquin at the centre of my musical world. To have the opportunity to perform any of his music is the greatest privilege, but his masses represent something apart. In them he worked out – and perfected – his response to a particular compositional problem: how to set the words of the five movements of the Mass Ordinary, rather as Beethoven explored the possibilities in the traditional movements of a symphony. Mass setting was central to all the composers of the Renaissance period, and Josquin was determined to outshine everybody. He did this by repeatedly coming back to the challenge – his masses come from every period of his career - and by restricting himself more or less entirely to four voices, to concentrate his technique. In these masses the greatest composer of his age audibly matured.

I chose to record all Josquin's masses partly because the Tallis Scholars have been associated with his music for their entire career; partly because his masses make the best possible recording project; and partly because 2021 will mark the 500th anniversary of his death. Nineteen masses over nine discs is substantial but manageable, whereas 107 by Palestrina is not. And they represent something of an ultimate challenge both intellectually and technically to any group of singers that wants to perform Renaissance polyphony. The intellect is challenged by the often mathematically-based writing – canons, augmentation, inversion and so on; the technique by the unusually wide vocal ranges and unexpected stylistic twists and turns, which were the result of a composer experimenting over 40 years. Yet every Mass has its own individual sound world. And in that lay the excitement of recording them all...

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band

Piffaro, the Renaissance Band based at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, opened its 2016-17 season Oct. 8 and 9 by celebrating “The Musical World of Don Quixote,” the immortal character created by Miguel de Cervantes in what is universally considered the first modern novel. Published in two parts in 1605 and 1615 under the full title of “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha,” the novel tells the picaresque tale of a Spanish knight errant seeking adventure just as knighthood’s chivalry was seen to be becoming a part of the past...

Brilliantly assembled by Piffaro’s Grant Herreid, “The Musical World of Don Quixote” was the most ambitious and successful concert I’ve ever heard Piffaro give. Not only was the playing and singing both superb, but Herreid’s concept efficaciously projected not just the title character as a man of great honor but his creator, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, to be the Spanish-language equivalent of William Shakespeare in his ability to understand the most profound aspirations of the human soul as it struggles to survive the trials and tribulations of life.

Herreid assembled and ordered “The Musical World of Don Quixote” to follow in broad strokes the narrative of Cervantes’ novel. We began with “The Madness of Don Quixote” and “Don Quixote Becomes a Knight Errant” and learned how he prepared his armor and steed, chose a lady, sallied forth and chose his squire, experienced many an adventure, finally experiencing “The Death of Don Quixote.”

Amid a plethora of purely instrumental and often anonymous pieces, Herreid interspersed nuggets of gold composed by the Renaissance’s leading lights such as Francisco Guerrero and Tomas Luis de Victoria. Songs and dances filled in those broad strokes with telling details of the life lived by Don Quixote and his fellow Spaniards, both happy and sad, both boisterous and intimate.

The playing throughout the concert set and held an amazingly high standard of polish and passion. The Medieval and Renaissance instruments spoke in tart tones that were securely projected. But it was in those works that featured the singing of New York Polyphony and soprano Nell Snaidas when the concert’s finest music making was heard. Snaidas sang with a palpable connection with and commitment to the texts of her songs...

Piffaro will return to Chestnut Hill for its holiday program, “La Noche Buena,” Saturday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Visit

Trio Mediæval - a female threesome from Norway

…The trio (whose concert was funded by philanthropist Anthony B. Creamer) was heard at the so-called Portal to the Cloisters section of Philadelphia Museum of Art, an arch dating back to 12th-century France, and with acoustics that, as one listener commented, seemed to make the stones sing. Nearby tours unrelated to the concert were a momentary distraction, but mainly, these superbly controlled singers - whose sound is cooler and more precise than Anonymous 4 - achieved remarkable effects, including the final notes of the hour-long concert that suggested the sound was spatially receding into the distance.

Titled "Aquilonis: A musical journey from Iceland to the Mediterranean," the program was drawn from the group's 2014 ECM-label album of the same title, with the group's trademark three-voices-singing-as-one feeling more effortless and as articulate as ever in a series of chants, carols, and folk songs, with much of the sacred music associated with the 12th-century St. Thorlak. Words aren't projected as specifically as in 19th-century opera, but Trio Mediæval - whose members are Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth, and Berit Opheim - have an alternative sense of rhetoric.

Within the relatively narrow expressive range of medieval music, the singers revealed worlds of details that follow their own modal paths - one much freer than the codified major and minor scales of our time - as well as subtle dissonances that constantly change the complexion of the music.
The sound envelope was varied, with the singers occasionally accompanying themselves on fiddle, chimes, and something called a shruti box (sort of a prayerful hurdy-gurdy). The skillful sequencing had the hushed English carol "Ecce quod natura" followed by the solo-voice "Alleluia a newe werk," then giving way to a celebratory psalm setting…

 Complete article and beautiful picture:

The Boston Camerata

Camerata's musical performances are well known for their blending of spontaneity and emotional commitment with careful research and scholarship. With its distinguished roster of singers and specialists in early instruments, Camerata produces an intown concert series for audiences in the Greater Boston area. The Boston Camerata also tours regularly in the US and all over the world. These live performances present vital, historically informed performances of European music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras, and of early American music, sacred and secular.

Upcoming concerts –see complete schedule here:

Puer Natus Est:
A Medieval ChristmasA glimpse of Christmas spirituality from Medieval France, Italy, England, and Provence, including music of the church and songs of private devotion around the joyous theme of the Nativity. Included are songs to the Virgin Mary, processionals from Saint Martial of Limoges, hymns, lyrics, and miracle ballads sung in Latin, Old French, Old Provençal, and Saxon, interlaced with Medieval English texts of the Nativity. The cast features an extraordinary trio of women’s voices with harp and vielle.

In Dulci Jubilo:
A German ChristmasIn the European North, the forests are deep; the nights are dark and long. Perhaps this is why, in reaction, the early Christmas music of the German-speaking peoples is so intensely joyful, so profoundly rich. Our program explores the marvelous music of German Christmas festivity through chants and chorales, simple carols, grandiose polyphony, and instrumental fantasias of the 15th to early 17th centuries. This new program will feature the stellar Boston Camerata Wind Ensemble and an expanded consort of voices and early instruments.

Treasures of Devotion:
Spiritual Song in Northern Europe 1500-1540 Music of personal devotion from the early Renaissance, reflecting the spirituality of homes, family circles, and small chapels in an age of intense religious renewal. Prayers, songs, chants, including music for the Virgin, meditations on the cross, and astonishing reworkings of the day’s popular melodies to sacred texts by Josquin, Agricola, Compère, Senfl, Clemens non Papa, and others.

A Medieval Masterpiece Revisited This powerful, highly-praised production returns to Boston in 2017 as part of a national tour. The themes of justice, and of truth spoken to power, are once again front and center as the Jewish captive Daniel confronts the tyrannical Belshazzar. The magnificent musical play of Daniel, composed eight centuries ago in Beauvais, France was newly transcribed from the original manuscript source and powerfully staged for modern audiences by Anne Azéma.


Middle Ages and Renaissance anniversaries

This year is a significant one for Middle Ages and Renaissance anniversaries. It has been 1,000 years since the Danish conquest of England in 1066, 800 years since the death of King John (of Magna Carta fame) in 1216, and 400 years since the deaths of both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes in 1616.
15 Same-sex Romances of the Renaissance Era

Some of the greatest thinkers, artists, and royals in European history had same-sex relationships.

The affairs of King Edward II have delivered gossip fodder for centuries. The historical rumors get famously used (in a very historically inaccurate fashion) for homophobic propaganda in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. But the true love of Edward’s life wasn’t a military adviser thrown from a window. It was the first Earl of Cornwall, Piers Gaveston. King Edward I, a.k.a. “Longshanks,” first assigned Gaveston to serve his son. But when the relationship grew too close, Gaveston was exiled. After Longshanks's death, however, Gaveston returned to “advise” King Edward II. Historians document a tremendous love between the two men, though it’s one that ended when enemies, upset at Gaveston’s preferential treatment, hunt him down. He was eventually run through with a sword and beheaded...

Complete long, fascinating article and pictures;

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