Public Lecture | Representations of Falconry on Two Ivory and Bone pieces Acquired by Sir William Burrell

Friday 8 March, 2024

The Burrell Collection holds a small but important group of ivory carvings from the late medieval period.
Join Professor Robert Gibbs as he explores the fascinating story of two supposed medieval ivories in the collection and uncovers a story of nineteenth century deception and forgery.

The talk will be held in The Burrell Collection’s Access Core area on the Lower Ground Floor.

Admission is free and drop-in.

About the talk

De Aves Venando in Eburibus: Representations of Falconry on Two Ivory and Bone pieces Acquired by Sir William Burrell.

The paper considers a supposed mirror-case sharing its composition of a gentleman and lady playing chess accompanied by attendants with two other examples. Apart from the rarity of exactly similar shared compositions in 14th century ivories the doubtful authenticity of two of these as 14th century pieces is revealed by errors in dress and the feminisation of the squire holding the nobleman’s hawk, as well as their inability to accommodate a mirror.

The other piece to be discussed is a 15th century gaming box typical in most respects of a group of similar objects but with a panel in the lid bearing the arms of German families from the Black Forest that suggested a location for the whole group. This heraldry frames scenes copied directly from the French copy of Manfred’s own copy of Frederick II’s Treatise on Falconry.

The two objects raise issues of sources and misunderstood functionality in the production of fakes and share the use of colourful details such as falconry and gaming to attract the patronage of 20th century collectors of medieval art.

About Professor Robert Gibbs

Prof. Robert Gibbs taught the history of medieval art at the University of Glasgow from 1970 to 2011, researching principally on Bolognese illumination and painting. His publications include Tomaso da Modena: Painting in Emilia and the March of Treviso, 1340-80, Cambridge University Press, 1989; Susan L’ Engle and Robert Gibbs, Illuminating the Law: Medieval Legal Manuscripts in Cambridge Collections, London, Harvey Miller, 2001; Flavio Boggi and Robert Gibbs, Lippo di Dalmasio, “Assai valente pittore”, Bologna, 2013., as well as a couple of early papers on Talwin Morris. He coordinated the exhibition Rarer Gifts than Gold: 14th-century art in Scottish Collections, The Burrell Collection, Glasgow, 28 April – 26 June, 1988, in which the origins of this paper lie.

Dates & Times

The Burrell Collection
Pollock Country Park 2060 Pollokshaws Road, Glasgow, G43 1AT
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Fri 8 Mar 14:00- 15:00

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