In addition to our riveting programme of speakers, Lasting Impressions will play host to an intriguing and varied range of poster presenters. They will be shedding light on research conducted into epigraphic squeezes, Renaissance replication, coloured casts, and much more. Detailed abstracts for each poster can be found below.
ANNELIES VAN DE VEN: Université Catholique de Louvain
The Materiality of Epigraphic Squeezes: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Documenting Squeezes in Museum Collections
"The presence of a squeeze collection within an institution reflects the history of epigraphic scholarship undertaken by its members. In the case of Musée L, the University Museum associated with the Université Catholique de Louvain, the collection of squeezes dates to the late 19th century and it reflects the growth of the discipline of biblical archaeology in Belgium, at the time a subdiscipline of the theology department. It was created by René Maere, a Belgian priest who had trained in Rome, and it reflects his own interests.
The collections were accompanied by a series of notes by Maere, connecting individual squeezes to the history of early Christian faith and epigraphy, and particularly to the works of De Rossi and Marucchi. In the latter half of the 20th century, the collection became disconnected from its context and its biblical background, with staff focusing instead on it’s potential for teaching Classical languages to students.
The narrowing of the squeeze collection’s associations, and thus its functionality is now being drawn into question. The rise of interdisciplinary studies integrating archaeological and epigraphical approaches, has resulted in a new set of research questions that take into account the materiality of the squeeze, its biography of interpretation and its relationship to its inscription which is archaeologically contextualised.
In this poster, I apply these considerations to the Musée L squeeze collection, its documentation and dissemination through research and display. By exploring these squeezes using an interdisciplinary and constellatory approach I will present them not just as textual copies but as complex and socialised artefacts in their own right."
LOIS HANES: The Warburg Institute & National Gallery, London
Perugino and the Art of Self-Replication in the Italian Renaissance
"Giorgio Vasari recounts how, in 1507, the painter Perugino was ridiculed at the unveiling of his new work. Reviled for its ‘repetitiveness’, Perugino’s monumental, double-sided altarpiece at Santissima Annunziata, Florence, made liberal re-use of figures that had already been seen in his previous works. For Vasari, this was evidence of Perugino’s ‘greed’ and ‘laziness’.
Since Vasari, it has been widely recognised that Perugino made frequent replications of figures and motifs across different projects, populating his works with a chorus of ‘stock’ designs that reappear from image to image. Recent scholarship has sought to demonstrate where these instances of replication constitute the reuse of a common cartoon, transposed mechanically from one work to another.
My poster considers one of the most striking examples of design replication in Perugino’s oeuvre: the Sansepolcro Ascension altarpiece (Florence, c.1505-1510), as a near-perfect copy of the central panel of the San Pietro polyptych, made a decade earlier for the Benedictines in Perugia.
This particular case presents a number of questions. Firstly, how could such a close copy have been made after this significant time-lapse? And how was the copy achieved in Tuscany, when the prototype was produced in Umbria? Furthermore, why might artist and patron have agreed upon the replication, given these distances in time and geography? Through examination of infrared images and material analysis, and engaging with evidence about Perugino’s workshop practice found in the extant autograph and workshop drawings, I will seek to demonstrate that far from a ‘lazy’ process, the design transposition from the prototype to the replica instead involved a high level of artistry. Then, looking at the circumstances of the Sansepolcro commission, I will ask what might have been the special significance of making a replica of the prototype, for both Perugino and his patrons."
SUSAN NEWELL: Oxford University Museum of Natural History & University of Leeds
Lasting Impressions: The Role of the Geological Cast in the Early Nineteenth Century
"Casts played a crucial role in the construction of geological theories in the early nineteenth century. Learned men were part of an international community, mutually dependent on each other for the supply of specimens. Because of their scarcity and value, the specimens themselves were usually disseminated in the form of casts. This knowledge network was permeable, in the sense that many people at a local level, ‘fossilists’ such as Mary Anning, collectors, landowners, members of local philosophical societies and dealers, often acquired significant expertise. They either found or acquired specimens to sell, loan, give or pass on in the form of casts.
My narrative in this poster relates to a unique collection of geological casts surviving at Oxford University Museum of Natural History which formerly belonged to William Buckland (1784-1856), first Professor of Mineralogy and Geology at Oxford. I will focus on the casts of trace fossils made by reptiles of the Triassic period. Working with these and a variety of live animals, Buckland used a methodology based on the comparative anatomy developed by Georges Cuvier at the Museum d’histoire naturelle in Paris to link the extinct species responsible for the ‘lasting impressions’ to existing related animals. This field of study would later be developed by others into an important sub-field of palaeontology, ichnology."
ELAINE CHARWAT: Oxford University Museum of Natural History & University College London
Object Colours: a Polychromatic View of Natural History Models and Casts
"In 1810, the German poet and naturalist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe developed a theory of colour, which was influential in both the arts and the sciences. As a result, colour wheels, colour charts, “colour taxonomies”, were developed in order to standardise colours and colour mixes.
How we see and communicate colours in a natural history context has long been scrutinised whenever nature is being “reproduced”. Past attempts to standardise colours and the use of colour for natural history illustrations have been examined in various studies for specific periods and illustrators.
I would like to complement and compare this evidence with an examination of how colour/ing and standardising systems were applied to natural history models and casts, mainly in the second half of the 19th to early 20th century. The meanings and mechanisms of how these objects were coloured - as opposed to how they were shaped or “modelled” - have so far received little attention in a history of science and collections studies context. The discovery of how to produce colours and dyes synthetically in the second half of the 19th century coincides with a peak time in model and cast making and distribution, and this relationship deserves closer study.
This visual introduction to an interdisciplinary investigation will start with the assumption that object colours can reveal changing politics, fashions, and new approaches with regard to communicating nature and the natural sciences."
If you would like to join us at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford on 28th June to read these fascinating posters and much more, you have until midday on 31st May to register on Eventbrite. See you there!