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Final Report Summary - DTIIMA (Drawing and the Transmission of Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages)

The DTIIMA research project investigates the evidence concerning the functions and uses of drawing in the Middle Ages. Drawing seems to have played a crucial role in the arts of the Middle Ages and yet relatively few actual drawings are preserved and their function, meaning and context are not always easy to establish. Through the examination of a number of extant drawings, some of them well known and others very recently discovered and unpublished, the project aims to advance our knowledge of the role of drawing to a point where even in the many instances of medieval works of art for which no drawings are preserved, we might make realistic hypotheses about the role played by drawings in the making of a particular work and the dissemination of a specific image.
Since the start of the DTIIMA research project in 2012, three publications have appeared and two more have been submitted and will come out in 2016. Six further publications based on the results of the DTIIMA research are in preparation. Outcomes of the DTIIMA research project have been the focus of several conference papers and lectures. One more conference paper is scheduled for November 2016.
A remarkable set of drawings preserved in the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel was discovered in 2012 as the under text of an 11th-century palimpsest (i.e. a manuscript reused after scraping and washing off prior text and/or drawings). The extraordinary quality and range of subjects of these drawings prompted the research to expand into this yet unpublished material. The palimpsest is now included in the exhibition “Retter der Antike. Marquard Gude auf der Suche nach den Klassikern” to be opened at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel on August 14, 2016. The catalogue accompanying the exhibition published an entry on these newly-discovered drawings, which were an unexpected and yet most remarkable find of the DTIIMA research project.
The continuity of his role at the Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome made it possible for Ludovico Geymonat, the Marie Curie CIG fellow, to establish steady collaborations with the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel in Germany and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain. His participation in a number of international conferences initiated contacts with research institutes and scholars from the Instituto de Estudos Medievais in Lisbon, Portugal, to as far away as Taiwan and Saint Petersburg. His work was deemed worthy of the highly selective “Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale” for Associate Professorship in Italian Universities in November 2014. He currently holds the position of Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA and Rome, Italy).
The first outcome of the DTIIMA project was a long article published at the end of 2012 entirely dedicated to a reassessment of the so-called Wolfenbüttel Musterbuch, one of the most important sets of drawings from the 13th century. A careful analysis of the evidence, together with the publication of the photographs of all the unbound folios with drawings, offered a number of insights on this enigmatic yet key witness to the use of drawing in the Middle Ages. An appreciation of the role of memory in the making of the drawings in the Wolfenbüttel Musterbuch has been fundamental to a more general assessment of the connections between drawing and memory. This provided the starting point for an article on visual memory in the portfolio of Villard de Honnecourt, the other famous collection of drawings from the period, which was published in 2015.
Another line of research, parallel to that concerning drawing and memory, focuses on drawings that illustrate an entire iconographic cycle. Two case studies have been looked at in particular, that of the Vercelli Roll and of a drawing with apocalyptic scenes in the library of the Abbey of St. Peter in Salzburg. Articles on this two examples of pictorial guides are in preparation. The ultimate goal of a comprehensive study of the role of drawing in the Middle Ages is being prepared for the Römisches Jahrbuch der Bibliotheca Hertziana.
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