Medieval tombs often depict husband and wife lying side-by-side and hand-in-hand, their love immortalised in elegantly carved stone: what Philip Larkin's poem An Arundel Tomb later described as their "stone fidelity". But there is more to these declarations of post-mortem love than meets the eye. In this lecture we will explore the religious, political, and legal agendas that lie behind the seductive emotional rhetoric of medieval tomb monuments. Along the way, we will encounter surprising new insights: a monumental ménage à trois at Canterbury Cathedral; the naked corpse of Goeffrey Chaucer's granddaughter in Ewelme, Oxfordshire; and one of the earliest memorials to two men in Istanbul.
Jessica Barker is a specialist in medieval art, with a particular emphasis on sculpture. She studied at the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she was subsequently Henry Moore Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined The Courtauld in 2018, after two years as a lecturer in world art at the University of East Anglia.
Jessica’s research addresses questions of death, emotion and the body in medevial art. Her recent book, Stone Fidelity: Marriage and Emotion in Medieval Tomb Sculpture, explores the intersection of love and death in funerary art. She has published widely on death and commemoration, with articles in journals including Art History, Gesta, and The Sculpture Journal. Forthcoming publications include a study of the effigy of the Black Prince at Canterbury Cathedral.
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