Les Enluminures

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Thinking Broadly:  Rolls, Codices, Codicology, Connoisseurship, Paleography, and Media ”Revolutions” with Sonja Drimmer

May 26th, 2022

Join host Sandra Hindman and Sonja Drimmer on a special episode of the Les Enluminures podcast! Sandra and Sonja sit down to discuss her most recent article in Speculum “Connoisseurship, Art History and the Paleographical Impasse in Middle English Studies,” as well as her recent work on the “rollodex,” framing the relationship between hybrid parchment objects living between the roll and the codex.

Drimmer is an associate professor at U Mass Amherst specializing in medieval European art with expertise in illuminated manuscripts and early print. She received her BA from Brown University and PhD from Columbia University. Drimmer’s research is largely concerned with premodern notions of authorship and authority, the collaborative nature of artistic production, media theory, reproduction, and the aesthetics and material culture of politics. She maintains a strong interest in historiography and in particular how reproduction and restoration shape the reception of objects over time. 


Publications and References for Sonja Drimmer:

Sonja Drimmer, The Art of Allusion: Illuminators and the Making of English Literature, 1403-1476 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018)

Sonja Drimmer in Speculum “Connoisseurship, Art History and the Paleographical Impasse in Middle English Studies” 2022. 

Enameling Techniques

April 14th, 2022

With an effect like melted glass, enamel work creates stunning, colorful effects on sculptures, enlivening their surfaces. Today, we take a look at the history and various technical processes of enameling. Covering cloisonné, champlevé, and enamel in ronde-bosse, we also examine works in the Les Enluminures collection which demonstrate these varied enameling techniques, including works by Castellani, Baroque rings, and Giuliano’s painted enamel. 



Les Enluminures Castellani Quatrefoil Brooch 

Castellani Brooch at the British Museum  

Heart-Shaped Pendant with Cherub by Guliano  

Love Ring with Bow and Flowers 


The Winter Show: A History

March 31st, 2022

Today we discuss the history of the Winter Show and philanthropic culture in the United States with Kristen Racaniello and Sandra Hindman. Tune in and discover the origins of the exhibition, the history of gifting in the USA, and hear about Sandra’s delightful journey to participating in the Winter Show. You can join us at the Winter Show in booth 1-11 starting today, Thursday March 31 to Sunday April 10. Regular hours begin at 12:00 but closing times vary. We hope to see you there! 



Les Enluminures at the Winter Show

The Winter Show Website

Margins and Monsters with Sherry Lindquist

March 17th, 2022

Join our founder and host Sandra Hindman as she discusses the monstrous, marginalia and determining the center with Sherry Lindquist, co-author of Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders. This interview coincides with the topic of our Chicago gallery exhibition, “The Margins of Medieval Art: Questioning the Center,” which is open through March 30th. What are Sandra and Sherry’s favorite monsters? What determines if an image or subject is “central” to a manuscript folio or pushed to its borders? How does gender, sex, and “monsterizing” play a role in creating margins that frame, subvert, or support the center? Find out on this episode of the Les Enluminures podcast. 



Sherry C. M. Lindquist and Asa Simon Mittman: Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders

The Margins of Medieval Art: questioning the Center, Chicago

The Secret Best Seller: Misery

March 3rd, 2022

Shocking as it may be a medieval bestseller was misery. That text, On the Misery of the Human Condition, is the subject of our podcast today. It was written by a soon-to-be Pope and remained wildly popular for five hundred years before mysteriously dropping out of favor. This text is filled with insights into the Medieval perspective through the meditations of Pope Innocent III, and our manuscript, TM557, is a classic example of the popularity of the Misery throughout time. It is an important historical record and a must-read text for anyone interested in medieval history and life.  

TM 557, On the Misery of the Human Condition 
On the success of Latin texts in the Middle Ages

Robert E. Lewis, ed. and tr., Lotario dei Segni (Pope Innocent III), De miseria condicionis humane, Athens, Georgia, 1978 
John C. Moore, Pope Innocent III (1160/61-1216). To Root up and Plant, Leiden, 2003 
John C. Moore, “Innocent III’s De miseria humanae conditionis: A Speculum curiae,” Catholic Historical Review 67 (1981), pp. 553-564. 

What is a Medieval Bestseller?

February 17th, 2022

One of the most common, special objects that we have at Les Enluminures is the Book of Hours. Often, the Book of Hours is called the medieval “bestseller.” But what, exactly, does that mean? What determines if a book was “popular” or “best-selling” in the medieval world? How can we possibly know what was made most frequently in the Middle Ages? Find out answers to these questions today on the Les Enluminures Podcast.



On the success of Latin texts in the Middle Ages


Pascale Bourgain and Laura Light, Bestsellers, Primer 4, Les Enluminures, 2014.

Lerner, Robert E. “New Light on ‘The Mirror of Simple Souls.’” Speculum 85, no. 1 (2010): 91–116.

Time, Desire, & Revival Jewels

February 3rd, 2022

Today we explore the gap in time between historical events and the present. Between then and now is a gap that creates desire and longing for contact. Creative attempts to close that gap produced a series of “revivalist” movements in the nineteenth century. Through our current exhibition “Ideal Jewels” we discuss the rise of art jewelry, the Pre-Raphaelites, and how revival iconography connects with the present day. What did St. Augustine and Aristotle think about time? What materials did revival jewelers use to research their designs? How can we connect the Victorian era with the medieval period? Find out today on the Les Enluminures podcast. 



The Ideal Past: Revival Jewels

Carolyn Dinshaw, How Soon is Now?: Medieval Texts, Amature Readers, and the Queerness of Time

Watermarks & Paper Making

January 21st, 2022

Paper makers in Fabriano developed the use of wire-made signs as identifying marks in the Middle Ages. Today we call these impressions “watermarks”— the papermakers’ logo and calling card. Find out more about the history and development of papermaking and watermarks in some of the oldest medieval paper mills and discover their use in identifying the provenance and production of medieval manuscripts and drawings. 

Fabriano Paper in Library of Congress Collections

TM 1181:  Carthusian Ordinarium for the Mass and Office

A History of the Destruction of Troy

January 14th, 2022

In this discussion of our mid-fifteenth century copy of Guido da Colomna’s Historia destructionis Troiae (History of the Destruction of Troy) we cover the history of the Sibylline Oracle, the Middle English copies of the Troiae, and the composition of our manuscript. We chat about the role of the scribe/author in creating the histories of Troy, why there is such a revival of interest in the Trojan war in the medieval period, and the interesting addition of the Sibylline text at the very end of the codex. 

Resources: GUIDO DA COLOMNA, Historia destructionis Troiae (History of the Destruction of Troy); Extract from the Sibylline prophecies


Stenciled Choir Books

January 6th, 2022

Today we will cover a fascinating early printing process, still in wide use today–– stenciling! Beginning with the history of the stencil and moving into the use of stencils in choir books, this podcast will cover the basic processes of stenciling, discussing how they developed and were used in sacred and secular settings. From the Carthusians to Pablo Picasso, stencils have been used in art for centuries as pattern making tools that create beautiful, crisp images and lines. 



Eric Kindel, (2019) “Stencil: a descriptive bibliography.” Éditions à


Choir Book with Selected Texts for the Mass and Office


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