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Alistair Rider Leverhulme Research Fellowship

‘The Lifelong Work: Long-term Artists’ Projects since 1960’

Historians of modern western art largely esteem moments in artists’ lives when their work appears particularly innovative and imaginative. The years when their art seems lacking in these qualities is deemed unadventurous or repetitive, and usually gets glossed over.

However, after around 1960, a small number of artists from a range of countries embraced a strictly-defined art project which they insistently pursued for the remainder of their lives. By adhering to fixed routines, they sidestepped the expectation that artists’ work must always be innovating and evolving. Dr Rider will use his Leverhulme Research Fellowship to prepare a book-length study of this under-researched historical phenomenon.

His research focuses on six artists: Absalon (Israel), Hanne Darboven, Peter Dreher (both from Germany), On Kawara (Japan and USA), Roman Opalka (Poland) and Ad Reinhardt (USA). Over the years, each of these artists has attracted wide levels of attention because their career choices seemed intentionally extreme, and, for this reason, their work often provokes reflection on perennial ethical questions - about, for instance, what counts as a fulfilling life. In his study, Rider will explore how these artists exceed and undermine widely-held preconceptions about selfhood.

Camilla Mørk Røstvik

Menstrual Zines at Glasgow Women’s Library

Helena Neimann Erikstrup with Dr Camilla Mørk Røstvik

This project was initially about exploring the archives of Glasgow Women’s Library, searching for anything relevant to the topic of Dr Røstvik’s Leverhulme Trust fellowship about menstruation in visual culture. 

Erikstrup found several interesting avenues for research, and together we focused on a series of zines from the 1990s by Saskia named Heavy Flow. Erikstrup photographed and analysed the text, collages and comics in the zines, and together we are writing up our findings for dissemination in the medical humanities blog Nursing Clio, and potentially also at some relevant conferences. 

Dr Elsje van Kessel Leverhulme fellowship
Stolen Ships and Globalisation
Asian Material Culture in Europe c. 1600
Since 2017

The period around 1600 was a tipping point in the history of globalisation. The Portuguese empire, which in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries had been built to stretch from Brazil to Japan, reached its zenith around this time. The Dutch Republic and England, meanwhile, were just beginning to take over Portuguese sea routes and trading posts.

The immense success and subsequent stagnation of Portuguese expansion, and the concomitant rise of the Dutch and English ventures overseas, have so far been described as driven by a combination of imperial politics, religious motivation and economic gain. My project will use a different, new approach to understanding this key moment: I will study the successes and failures of globalisation through a focus on art objects and their interaction with human beings and ideas. Central to the project will be an analysis of the seizure of two Portuguese cargo ships by the English and the Dutch and the aftermath of these events. Thus the project aims, through exploring the redirection of a large group of art objects that these hijackings entailed, and the debates about art objects that these events engendered on all sides of the divide, to examine the historical workings and meanings of globalisation around the turn of the seventeenth century.

This project is funded by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. For the duration of the academic year 2017-2018, Elsje van Kessel will be hosted by the Portuguese Center for Global History (CHAM) at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Image: Jan Huygen van Linschoten, ‘Countenance and clothes of Portuguese citizens and soldiers in the East Indies as they appear on the streets’, from Itinerario. Voyage ofte schipvaert [...] naer Oost ofte Portugaels Indien [...]. Amsterdam: Cornelis Claesz, 1596 (Utrecht UB, MAG: T fol 133 (Rariora)).

The Lives of Paintings: Presence, Agency and Likeness in Venetian Art of the Sixteenth Century
Elsje van Kessel, published by De Gruyter, April 2017

In sixteenth-century Venice, paintings were often treated as if living beings.

They attended dinner parties, helped to heal the sick, made money, and became involved in love affairs. In this book, Elsje van Kessel presents a range of case studies offering a detailed examination of the agency that two-dimensional images could exert. This person-like agency was not only connected to the seemingly naturalistic style of Titian, Giorgione, and their contemporaries, but was also grounded in the works’ social and historical contexts, here reconstructed through meticulous archival research. The Lives of Paintingscontributes to Venetian studies, as well as engaging with wider debates on the attribution of life and presence to images and things.

Research for this book was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

LG-A Career of Japan

A Career of Japan: Baron Raimund von Stillfried and Early Yokohama Photography

Luke Gartlan, published by Brill, 2016.

Winner of the Josef Kreiner Hosei University Award for International Japanese Studies. 

A Career of Japan is the first study of one of the major photographers and personalities of nineteenth-century Japan. Baron Raimund von Stillfried (1839-1911) was the most important foreign-born photographer of the Meiji era and one of the first globally active photographers of his generation.

He played a key role in the international image of Japan and the adoption of photography within Japanese society itself. Yet the lack of a thorough study of his activities, travels, and work has been a fundamental gap in both Japanese- and Western-language scholarship. Based on extensive new primary sources and unpublished documents from archives around the world, this book examines von Stillfried’s significance as a cultural mediator between Japan and Central Europe. It highlights the tensions and fierce competition that underpinned the globalising photographic industry at a site of cultural contact and exchange – treaty-port Yokohama. In the process, it raises key questions for Japanese visual culture, Habsburg studies, and cross-cultural histories of photography and globalisation. 

“Luke Gartlan’s book is a compelling and enjoyable read, and contributes major new perspectives to the growing field of Meiji photography. It will certainly be the authoritative work on Raimund von Stillfried, but it is also impressive for its contributions to other important areas of Meiji cultural studies, including representations of the emperor, photography of Hokkaido, and world’s fairs.” 

Bert Winther-Tamaki (University of California, Irvine) 

Research for and publication of this book was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation.


Image: Baron Raimund von Stillfried, Two Officers, ca. 1875, hand-coloured albumen print from a collodion-on-glass negative. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.

Rubrics, Images and Indulgences in Late Medieval Netherlandish Manuscripts
Kathryn M. Rudy, published by Brill, December 2016

Middle Dutch manuscript prayerbooks hold valuable information about how laypeople performed prayer and what they hoped to gain by doing so. The quantity and variety of this Middle Dutch material illuminates the extraordinary richness of individualized devotional practice and, ultimately, of religious ferment that led to the Reformation.

By constructing a pleading monologue with God, Jesus, Mary, or a saint, individual penitents helped to build protection for their afterlives by uttering particular words, in the presence of appropriate images, and performing with sufficient gravitas. Prayerbooks lay out rules for enactment, largely written as rubrics, which implicate devotional images in myriad ways. It is my contention that prescriptions in prayerbooks reveal aspects of the function and reception of devotional images in the fifteenth century.

In this book I show how certain Christological images—including the Mass of St Gregory, the Wounds of Christ and certain Marian images, brokered deals between penitents and their afterlives.  In this spiritual economy, high-value images came to be represented in great quantities and in every medium, while others of lesser indulgence value fell in popularity. Finally, I show how the indulgence-earning culture of the pre-Reformation Netherlands engendered a new class of images that took purgatorial remission as their subjects. Rubrics, images, and indulgences formed a system that increased in magnitude, complexity, and importance in the fifteenth century. This system inflected habits of mind and public and private behaviour, and exerted considerable force on the contents of books, on the images at altars (and on their status), and on the course of history itself.


Opening from a Book of Hours, c. 1500. Huis Bergh Castle in ’s-Heerenberg, Ms. 18 (inv. no. 290), fol. 153v-154r.

Piety in Pieces: How Medieval Readers Customized their Manuscripts                     
Kathryn M. Rudy, Open Book published in 2016

Medieval manuscripts resisted obsolescence. Made by highly specialised craftspeople (scribes, illuminators, book binders) with labour-intensive processes using exclusive and sometimes exotic materials (parchment made from dozens or hundreds of skins, inks and paints made from prized minerals, animals and plants), books were expensive and built to last.

They usually outlived their owners. Rather than discard them when they were superseded, book owners found ways to update, amend and upcycle books or book parts.

These activities accelerated in the fifteenth century. Most manuscripts made before 1390 were bespoke and made for a particular client, but those made after 1390 (especially books of hours) were increasingly made for an open market, in which the producer was not in direct contact with the buyer. Increased efficiency led to more generic products, which owners were motivated to personalise. It also led to more blank parchment in the book, for example, the backs of inserted miniatures and the blanks ends of textual components. Book buyers of the late fourteenth and throughout the fifteenth century still held onto the old connotations of manuscripts—that they were custom-made luxury items—even when the production had become impersonal.

Rudy considers ways in which book owners adjusted the contents of their books from the simplest (add a marginal note, sew in a curtain) to the most complex (take the book apart, embellish the components with painted decoration, add more quires of parchment). By making sometimes extreme adjustments, book owners kept their books fashionable and emotionally relevant. This study explores the intersection of codicology and human desire.

The book is available for download at this website:

Image: Opening of a book of hours at the Hours of the Holy Spirit, with an added miniature depicting the Mass of St Gregory. The Hague, Meermanno Museum, 10 F 2, fol. 133v-134r

Dr Karen Brown
Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean
2016 - 2020

EU-LAC-MUSEUMS is an international research project funded by Horizon 2020 -  the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever. Our research falls under the Call "Europe as a Global Actor - INT12 (2013-14) - The cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU-LAC relations", and our aim is to build close connections between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in the field of community museology. Our project will run from 2016-2020.

Our international consortium consists of eight partners working in academia, the museum world, and policy in Scotland, Portugal, Spain, France, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and the West Indies. The project is Coordinated by MGCI in the School of Art History, the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and was conceived and continues to be supported by the networks of ICOM-Europe and ICOM-LAC, whose Presidents serve on our project Steering Committee.

What is our Research About?

Museums hold an unequalled responsibility to communicate the shared history and “cultural, political and economic ties” between Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. Museums have enormous capacity to reach all levels of community, from towns to remote villages, and can be neutral spaces for building social cohesion and reconciliation in a variety of contexts. Together, our research teams will determine commonalities and share best practice across regions. By focusing on the theme of Museums and Community: Concepts, Experiences, and Sustainability in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, EU-LAC-MUSEUMS will create a common vision for sustainable, small to medium-sized local and regional museums and their communities, and reinforce mutual understanding and cooperation between regions.

EU-LAC-MUSEUMS will achieve this goal by pursuing work packages dealing with the cross cutting societal challenges of:

a) "Technology and Innovation for Bi-Regional Integration”;

b) "Museum Education for Social Inclusion and Cohesion";

c) "Investment and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Museums”, and

d) “Exhibiting Migration and Gender”.

In so doing, we will push forward the agenda of the EU-CELAC Action Plan in museum practice and theory []. 

One of the research outputs by the University of St Andrews already completed are remote community workshops for 3D and spherical technologies, in collaboration with Open Virtual Worlds in Computer Science. Some 170 objects from 9 EU-LAC countries have been digitised in 3 dimensions. See For example, in Jamaica Dr Karen Brown and EU-LAC PhD student Kate Keohane worked with the Maroons Community in Charlestown to teach them how to create 360 degree panoramas of their museum and historic landscape.

Another major part of St Andrews’ research contribution is a collaboration with the University of the West Indies on the topic of Caribbean Art and Migration, including publications and a touring international art exhibition. Dr Catherine Spencer and Kate Keohane are actively involved in this component alongside Dr Brown. This collaboration will be strengthened during her Visiting Professorship in the next academic year.

The 30 international researchers and museum professionals involved in EU-LAC-MUSEUMS will meet in late November 2017 for their first annual meeting and review. On this occasion, we will host two symposia. One will be on the topic of “The Politics of the Venice Biennale” on Friday 23 November []. The other will be on “Defining the Museum of the 21st Century", and held on Saturday 24 November. The conference is part of an international movement to find a new ICOM Definition of the Museum, commencing in La Sorbonne Novelle in Paris, June 2017. All staff of the Museum and Gallery Studies programme, including Dr Karen Brown, Ann Gunn, Dr Ulrike Weiss and Nicôle Meehan, look forward to hosting this international event and surrounding debates.

One the Saturday evening, Youth Programme Worker Jamie Brown is also organising our EU-LAC Youth Award ceremony in Upper College Hall for the young people who have successfully engaged in the cultural exchange with Costa Rica and Portugal. The first Scottish EU-LAC Youth blog is now live!


Dr Natalie Adamson
What Counts as Painting: Pierre Soulages and the Materiality of Postwar Art in France
Getty Residential Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles
September-December 2015

In 1973 Roland Barthes issued a heartfelt plea: surely, he wrote, ‘another history of painting is possible, which isn’t that of works and artists, but of tools and materials [...].’ To begin to answer an epochal and ontological question for art after 194 – what counts as painting? – I  focus on the tools and materials of French artist Pierre Soulages (born in 1919).

My method combines a documentary appraisal of the painter’s materials, tools and diverse techniques with an art-historical analysis of the layered meanings that accrue to the works as a consequence of their particular mode of making. I studied the conditions of painting for Soulages at three significant moments, where painting shifts to a different form, with the aim of revealing what Yve-Alain Bois (speaking of Mondrian) calls the ‘particular system of the painter’. A close materialist description of Soulages’ ‘particular system’, and comparison to the techniques and materials of American abstract painters such as Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, sheds light on Soulages’ particular strategy of making and how it combines intention, desire and chance with habit and learnt skills. Soulages is self-consciously alert to this complex relationship between the imaginary and material, noting that: ‘I never considered that painting could be reduced to its materiality. [...] Theory results from the work, in some way implicit within it.’ Further to this, the case-study of Soulages provides evidence for a new history of a distinctive attitude of materialist modernism in postwar European painting.

Natalie Adamson conducted the research on this project as a Getty Residential Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, September-December 2015.

The Prints of Paul Sandby (1731-1809): A Catalogue Raisonné

Ann V. Gunn, published by Brepols, 2015

Born in Nottingham, Paul Sandby (1731-1809) is best known as a founder member of the Royal Academy and a prominent figure in the development of British watercolour painting. However, he was also one of the most prolific and inventive printmakers in eighteenth-century Britain.

From his early years as a draughtsman for the military survey of Scotland, and later from his extensive tours throughout England and Wales, he depicted the people, towns, castles and landscapes of the nation. He provided the public with images of their country which contributed to the emerging appreciation of native landscape, to antiquarian interests, and to the development of picturesque tours within the British Isles. Although he never travelled abroad, he reproduced the work of fellow artists who had, tapping into the Grand Tour market with prints of Ionian antiquities, Neapolitan landscapes and the Roman carnival. But his work encompassed more than landscape; he could move from the pastoral humour of illustrations to Allan Ramsay’s poem The Gentle Shepherd, through the urban realism of his Cries of Londonto the merciless satire of his attacks on William Hogarth. From the 1740s to the 1780s he made over 380 prints: engravings, etchings, soft ground etchings and finally aquatints, a medium in which he was a pioneer. Aquatint enabled printmakers to reproduce the effects of watercolour paintings; Sandby gave the process its name and developed varied techniques which allowed the exact reproduction of the artist’s brush strokes, producing some of the most beautiful prints ever made in this medium.

Image caption
Cat. No. 265 Part of the Town and Castle of Ludlow, 1779, aquatint and etching,
image: 327 x 508 mm; plate: 362 x 540 mm

Postcards on Parchment: The Social Lives of Medieval Books
Kathryn M. Rudy, published by Yale University Press, 2015

From a review by Sonja Drimmer: ‘Rudy spins out over three hundred riveting pages to establish a new category of late medieval object, which she terms the “parchment painting.” Rudy defines the parchment painting—of which she presents roughly 250 examples, mostly from the fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Netherlands, and many of which were owned or produced by female religious—as “autonomous images made on flexible material, which had a social function outside the manuscript” (5).

Unlike full-page illuminations designed specifically for and tipped into books, parchment paintings (and paper ones) had careers outside of the books where they eventually retired. Their nearly exclusive presence in manuscripts is, largely, an accident of survival, since books happen to have been the most reliable vehicle for their preservation. Postcards on Parchment not only traces the lives of these parchment paintings, but it also provides a primer to identifying them. In addition to understanding the vitality and ubiquity of the parchment painting in late medieval culture, readers will find manuscripts transformed by the freewheeling images that journeyed into and out of them.

Without a cultish subscription to methodology, Rudy reaches for and deploys with expertise whatever tools or knowledge might illuminate the objects of her research. And she uses these tools as both a springboard and solid landing pad for her intrepid flights of scholarship. Rudy is not too timid to speculate, but when she does, it is with good reason, firm evidence, and complete transparency. Throughout the book individual case studies are wrapped up with candidly tentative reconstructions of manuscripts’ confection over time, an enterprise that breathes life back into books now arrested in archival amber. Like the manuscripts that it revives, Postcards on Parchment is prodigious with riches’.

Image: St Bridget writing about her vision of the Trinity, parchment painting, Southern Netherlands, c. 1490–1500, mounted in a shallow besloten hofje, alongside a variety of labelled relics, assembled in the Southern Netherlands, c. 1500–10. Parchment: 225 x 170; shrine of carved oak: 295 x 210 mm. Bruges, Zwartzusters van Bethel


Paolo Veronese

Daniele Barbaro (1514-70): In and Beyond the Text
Dr Laura Moretti
Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant (February 2014 – March 2016)

Daniele Barbaro (1514-70) was one of the greatest intellectuals of his time and a prominent patron of artists and scholars, such as Palladio and Titian. A complex and multi-faceted personality, he published several books and left unpublished writings on a range of subjects, including philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, optics, history, music, and architecture.

This International Network put Barbaro under the lens of his writings, and adopting a cross-disciplinary approach, it provided a reassessment of this figure in the context of the European Renaissance. The project involved a team of 40 international scholars which included academics, librarians, and curators.

The project started on the 1st of February 2014 and ended on the 31st of March 2016. The project partners were the University of St Andrews, the Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours, and the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice. The main research activity was carried out in Venice, but workshops and meetings were also organised in St Andrews and Tours. Two exhibitions of manuscripts and printed books were held in St Andrews and Venice, and the latter saw the participation of 37,469 visitors. The main outputs of the project have been an internet website, two exhibition catalogues, and a multi-authored book.

Two exhibition havDr Laura Moretti
Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant (February 2014 – March 2016)
Daniele Barbaro (1514-70) was one of the greatest intellectuals of his time and a prominent patron of artists and scholars, such as Palladio and Titian. e been organised, one in St Andrews (1-21/09/2014) and one in Venice (10/12/2015-28/02/2016). The full list of papers contained in the exhibition catalogue is available on the project website.

A Corpus of Scottish Medieval Parish Churches
Julian Luxford (Co-Investigator) with Richard Fawcett
2012- 2015

There has been a widespread view that the loss of medieval ecclesiastical architecture since the Reformation has been so great that insufficient evidence now survives for a detailed understanding of the pre-Reformation Scottish parish church. It is certainly true that relatively few parish churches still in use appear to be of predominantly medieval date.

Nevertheless, it is becoming increasingly clear that a majority of parish churches survived the Reformation, although many were subsequently rebuilt or abandoned. The purpose of this project is to determine if more historic fabric at Scotland’s parish churches of medieval foundation – whether still in use or abandoned – has survived than might appear on first sight.

In order to assess how far this might be the case, a one-year pilot study was conducted in the two dioceses of Dunblane and Dunkeld with the financial support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, in which the architecture of the churches and the documentation associated with them were closely examined. Such a precisely defined study permitted investigation of a sufficient number of parishes of varying size, wealth and type of location to allow the project research techniques to be refined and tested, and to determine if a larger project covering all thirteen Scottish dioceses might be viable.

The results of the project were deemed to be highly productive and, with the further generous support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, work is now moving on to consider the churches in the interlocking dioceses of St Andrews and Brechin.

The principal questions that are being addressed in the course of this project are:

  • How many of the medieval parishes in Scotland have retained anything of the pre-Reformation fabric of their churches?
  • How complete a picture can be established of the range of their medieval architectural forms and liturgical provisions?
  • How much can be established of their parochial history, and how far can that be related to the architectural history?