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Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece


Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece


The exhibition "Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece," guest curated by Dr. Amanda Luyster, opens at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross on Thurs. Jan 26 (lecture at 4pm; reception at 5:30pm) and closes on April 6, with a conference featuring speakers from the British Museum and elsewhere on Sat. March 25.

"Bringing the Holy Land Home" reveals the impact that art objects manufactured far away, particularly in the Byzantine and Islamic Mediterranean, had on the medieval visual culture of England and western Europe. The exhibition takes as its starting point the famous Chertsey tiles (c.1250, England) showing Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. This exhibition reframes the combat tile mosaic in light of a recent digital reconstruction completed by an international team, headed by Amanda Luyster. This digital reconstruction, which includes both images and lost Latin text, demonstrates not only that the theme of the entire mosaic is the Crusades, but also that its composition draws from imported Islamic and Byzantine silks, often carried home by returning Crusaders. The Crusading rhetoric of the tiles, in which English victory is proclaimed over their foreign opponents, thereby relies on visual traditions developed and perfected by Muslim and Byzantine artists in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Chertsey tiles are displayed in dialogue with materials from the Byzantine and Islamic worlds, including ceramics, metalwork, liturgical objects, weapons, and textiles, as well as western European objects that incorporated or were impacted by imported objects. This exhibition draws from the collections of the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library & Museum, the Dumbarton Oaks Collection, Harvard Art Museums, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Worcester Art Museum. The exhibition has been awarded generous support from Deborah Coleman Diggins and Timothy W. Diggins, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the International Center of Medieval Art, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
A volume accompanying the exhibition with essays by Michael Wood (OBE), Andrea Achi, Paroma Chatterjee, Meredith Fluke, Eurydice Georganteli, Sean Gilsdorf, Sarah Guerin, Cynthia Hahn, Eva R. Hoffman, Richard A. Leson, Amanda Luyster, A. L. McClanan, Nina Masin-Moyer, Grace P. Morrissey, Suleiman Mourad, David Nicolle, Scott Redford, Euan Roger, Alicia Walker, and Elizabeth Dospel Williams is available at https://www.brepols.net/products/IS-9781912554942-1

For more information on the exhibition, see https://chertseytiles.holycross.edu For event details, see https://chertseytiles.holycross.edu/events/
Sat. March 25, 8:30am-7pm, "Bringing the Holy Land Home" conference, held in association with the NEMC (New England Medieval Consortium)

Registration details will be posted at https://chertseytiles.holycross.edu/events/ in the coming weeks.

Lloyd de Beer, the British Museum
Paroma Chatterjee, University of Michigan
Paul Cobb, University of Pennsylvania
Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
Sarah Guerin, University of Pennsylvania
Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Eva Hoffman, Tufts University
Richard Leson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Amanda Luyster, College of the Holy Cross
Suleiman Mourad, Smith College
Nicholas Paul, Fordham University
Matthew Reeve, Queen’s University
Euan Roger, National Archives, Kew
Naomi Speakman, the British Museum
Elizabeth Williams, Dumbarton Oaks