Catherine Fernandez specializes in Western medieval art and architecture, with a particular focus on church treasuries, the afterlife of antique gems, Romanesque architectural sculpture, cross-cultural exchange in the medieval Mediterranean, and the function of ornament in medieval art. Fernandez joined the Index of Medieval Art in 2013, after having earned her Ph.D. at Emory University. She previously taught courses at Georgia State University and Emory University, ranging from general surveys of Western and modern art to more focused classes and lectures dedicated to medieval art. She also worked for several years as a research services assistant at Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.
She is currently completing a book manuscript, entitled Charlemagne’s Pectoral: The Medieval Afterlife of the Gemma Augustea at Saint-Sernin of Toulouse, which traces the historical and cultural trajectory of the largest extant Augustan cameo from its creation in 1st-century Rome to its veneration as a Charlemagne object in Toulouse by the 13th century. In taking into account the historical and legendary components of the Gemma Augustea’s afterlife, this work examines how various competing narrative constellations informed the gem’s reception at Saint-Sernin. It also demonstrates that the abbey church’s canons actively cultivated a distinctly local yet mutable Charlemagne legend through the strategic display of its treasury. By reintegrating the treasury into Saint-Sernin’s interior space, this project explores how a residual Carolingian “undercurrent” remained embedded within the fabric of the Romanesque shrine.
In addition to her current book project, Fernandez is also working on several forthcoming articles. The first addresses the role and function of the Godescalc Gospel Lectionary at Saint-Sernin. A second article considers the correlation between the placement of altars in Romanesque Saint-Sernin and the iconography of the church’s historiated capitals.
Ph.D., Emory University, 2012