'The Guthlac Roll and artistic process: a reassessment of the evidence'

Monday 20 February 2012, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Rosie Mills, Visiting V&A fellow at the University of York

Part of the mystique of the Guthlac Roll (British Library, Harley Roll
Y.6) has been its resistance to interpretation. The suggestion that it
was a design for stained glass, first noted in print in 1879, has
neither been confirmed nor disproved but is everywhere repeated. The
roll consists of 5 pieces of parchment joined together into a strip
almost 3 metres in length. However, it must have originally been
longer. The beginning, and any introductory text that it might have
contained, is missing. There is no other work known by the same
artist, and the style of the drawing c.1220 does not correspond to the
most appropriate date for artistic commissions associated with the
cult of St Guthlac (ie the translation of the relics in 1196). Both
its purpose and the stage of the artistic process that it represents
have hitherto remained unclear. However, in the absence of contextual
evidence the roll itself is an untapped resource. By examining the
iconography, composition and physical details of the roll, it becomes
apparent that the roll harks back to an earlier cycle of images more
than it heralds the creation of a new glazing scheme.

Drinks and refreshments will follow.

Location: Berrick Saul Auditorium