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The L’Orange lecture 2021

Prof. Nino Zchomelidse will give a lecture on "Rome and the aesthetics of illusion:  the Privilegium Ottonianum and the Marriage Charter of Empress Theophanu"

Bildet kan inneholde: verden, maling, tekstil, tre, oransje.

Detail of Empress Theophanu’s Marriage Charter, 972, Niedersächsische Landesarchiv – Staatsarchiv Wolfenbüttel

The Norwegian institute in Rome is honored to welcome Prof. Nino Zchomelidse as this year’s H.P. L'Orange lecturer.

In her lecture, Prof. Zchomelidse will present two sumptuously ornamented, Ottonian legal documents, issued and deposed in Rome. She discusses the specific medial conception of the two charters as well as the performative aspects of conveying such documents to their receiver.

Both charters exhibit extraordinary splendor and depart from the established format, epigraphy, and sealing practices for legal imperial documents of the time. The framed purple vellum of the Privilegium Ottonianum (962) imitates a porphyry panel enclosed by goldsmith work, and the Marriage Charter of Theophanu (972) evokes the qualities of woven Byzantine or Islamic silk, into which golden letters seem to be embroidered. The lecturer will show that the media transfer from stone, metal and textile to parchment is indebted to a conscious play with illusion that appears to apply also for the authenticating aspects of the documents themselves. Prof. Zchomelidse will argue that the powerful visuality of these documents unfolded its particular meaning by engaging with the site and idea of Rome as the center of an ancient empire and as the holy see of the papacy.

About Nino Zchomeldise

Nino Zchomelidse is Associate Professor of medieval art history at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Prof. Nino Zchmelidse
Prof. Nino Zchomelidse

She has taught at the University of Tübingen and at Princeton University, and has been awarded numerous fellowships and grants from the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome (Max-Planck-Institut), the Carlsberg Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the Gerda-Henkel-Foundation, and Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

She has pursued a wide range of research interests in medieval art with a geographical focus on Italy and the Eastern Mediterranean, being particularly interested in issues of representation, art and ritual, the interactive relationship between art and the viewer, and the investigation of theoretical, historiographical, and political aspects of the medieval art.

Among her numerous publications are Santa Maria Immacolata in Ceri: Sakrale Malerei im Zeitalter der Gregorianischen Reform (1996) and Art, Ritual, and Civic Identity in Medieval Southern Italy (Pennstate University Press 2014). She has also published on northern German and Danish art in the first half of the 19th century.


This event is organised as a webinar and requires advance registration. 
Please send an email with your name and affiliation (if any) to to register. A link will be sent you separately a couple of days ahead of the event. 

Published Sep. 2, 2021 2:30 PM - Last modified Sep. 16, 2021 12:09 PM