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The Middle Ages Only One Click Away

Lectures: M. Alessia Rossi (Post-Doctoral Fellow, Princeton U.) will speak about the Index of Medieval Art.

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How was the Last Judgment pictured in medieval art? Are representations of Charlemagne more common in painting, sculpture, or stained glass? How many images of centaurs can be traced back to the Middle Ages? For the past century the Index of Medieval Art has been developing a thematic archive of medieval visual traditions (iconography) in order to facilitate research and answer these questions and many more.

Founded in 1917, this archive took the form of a series of card files housed in two shoe boxes at Princeton University. Very quickly this endeavor grew into an elaborate system of physical files, and then into an initial digital platform in 1991 that has now been redesigned and renewed. In the last 100 years, specialized researchers have been painstakingly cataloguing every significant detail of works of art dated from early Christianity until the sixteenth century. Today, the Index includes nearly 80,000 work of art records, over 200,000 images, and approximately 45,000 iconographic subject headings.

In the twenty-first century, the Index’s challenge will be to continue showcasing medieval art through the legacy of its physical archive, and at the same time implement new advanced search and refinement tools – such as date, location, subject, and material – that will answer to a new generation of users. By examining present-day audience access and researching tools, this lecture will discuss how we encounter and employ medieval iconography between the material and virtual worlds and realms of possibilities.


Maria Alessia Rossi is the Samuel H. Kress Postdoctoral Researcher at the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University. She earned her MA and PhD from The Courtauld Institute of Art, London.  Rossi has taught at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at The Courtauld, worked for adult education institutions in London and participated in Princeton’s Prison Teaching Initiative. Currently she is working towards the publication of a monograph based on her PhD thesis, focusing on the development and proliferation of Christ’s Miracle Cycle in monumental decoration between the years 1280-1330 in the Byzantine Empire and the Serbian territories.

For assistance related to a disability, contact Mary Hayes: | 6628016107

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Sponsored by: University Lecture Series, Medieval Studies