Amanda Luyster on ‘Bringing the Holy Land Home’

A contribution by

Amanda Luyster

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 iconic Chertsey tiles, on loan from the British Museum, including the Richard the Lionheart and Saladin combat tiles. This exhibition reframes the combat tile mosaic in light of a recent digital reconstruction completed by an international team, headed by Guest Curator 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.

In the exhibition and in its accompanying publication, 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 objects from the eastern Mediterranean. Scholars of western European, Byzantine, and Islamic art history join with experts on the history of medieval England and the Crusades.

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

Edited by Amanda Luyster
Scheduled for Autumn 2022

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