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Sephardic Book Art of the 15th century
Lisbon, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, 25-27 February 2015
Sephardic decorated manuscripts of the 15th century have traditionally received less attention from art historians and codicologists than manuscripts from previous periods. On the one hand, there is the idea that due to the oppression suffered by Sephardic Jews, especially in the second half of the 15th century, their cultural and artistic production was the result of a decline and therefore poorer and uninteresting. On the other hand, researchers are mainly concerned with the analysis of manuscripts that signal the emergence of the decorated Sephardic book during the first half of the 13th century, and with manuscripts where Sephardic narrative art appeared and developed, during the 14th century.Therefore, questions about cultural and artistic interaction have been mainly directed to these two centuries, exploring the idea of “convivencia” and studying the appropriation of Christian and Islamic artistic and iconographic motifs by Sephardic artists and patrons. Yet, there is a growing interest on 15th century manuscripts in recent scholarship. Studies published by researchers such as Katrin Kogman-Appel, David Stern or Andreina Contessa have highlighted the cultural and artistic relevance of these manuscripts, renewing earlier studies made by scholars such as Gabrielle Sed-Rajna,Thérèse Metzger, Bezalel Narkiss or Sonia Fellous.
This conference will focus on the cultural and artistic questions posed by Sephardic codices of the 15th century by gathering scholars who have studied or are studying these manuscripts. Moreover, issues related with the materiality of these manuscripts will also be discussed, including codicological and paleographic approaches, as well as the fate of these manuscripts after the forced conversion or expulsion of Sephardic Jews between 1492 and 1498, among other related topics.