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Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai

Robin Cormack to Deliver Weitzmann Lecture

April 17, 2015

The distinguished Byzantinist Robin Cormack, professor emeritus in the history of art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, will deliver the 2015 Kurt Weitzmann Lecture, “Discovering Icons at Sinai: From Uspenskij to Weitzmann.”

His lecture will examine the work and discoveries of scholars and visitors to the ancient monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai before Princeton’s Kurt Weitzmann began his research expeditions to the monastery in 1956. A particular focus will be the mid-19th-century visits of Bishop Porfiry (Konstantin Aleksandrovich Uspenskij), the Russian theologian, paleographer, and archaeologist who was one of the first scholars to study the monastery’s rich collection of manuscripts and icons, and who compiled the first systematic catalogue of its ancient, intact library. Uspenskij’s discoveries during his extended sojourns to the remote outpost in 1845 and 1850 would have a lasting impact on the fields of Byzantine studies and church history.

Cormack is an art historian whose work has included illuminating investigations of a wide range of objects, placing them in their archaeological, artistic, and literary contexts, and within the framework of the social and economic history and cultural self-identity of Byzantium. He has made especially notable contributions to the study of the nature and function of Byzantine images, particularly panel icons. His many publications on Byzantine art and society include Painting the Soul: Icons, Death Masks, and Shrouds (1997); Writing in Gold: Byzantine Society and Its Icons (1985); Byzantine Art (2000); and Icons (2007). He is the coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies and was co-curator of the 2008 Royal Academy exhibition Byzantium, 330–1453.

The 2015 Weitzmann Lecture will be given in McCormick 101 at 5:00 pm on Friday, April 17. A related conference, A New Look: Sinai and Its Icons in Light of the Digitization of the Weitzmann Archive, will take place in McCormick Hall on April 17–18.