Designing Heaven: Drawing in Gothic Architectural Practice

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Michael Davis is Professor of Art History at Mount Holyoke College.  He is a specialist in French Gothic architecture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries but also teaches the arts of Islam and the history of modern architecture.  Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Davis has exhaustively studied two French Gothic structures:  the church of Saint-Urbain in Troyes (Champagne) and the abbey of Saint-Ouen in Rouen (Normandy).  After compiling new, accurate measurements into ground plans, Davis used CAD to uncover geometric relationships, religiously significant design elements, and architectural plans previously hidden to art historians.  Davis’ most recent publications include articles on medieval drawing and design of the Cathedral of Clermont, as well as a fourteenth-century sculptural cycle at Notre-Dame, Paris.  His aim is "to understand Gothic structures as human products, the results of the dynamic interaction of traditional craft training and the inventive decisions of individual masters.”

The Harvey Stahl Lectureship is named after Harvey Stahl, late Professor of the History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley, and is sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art, based at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  A memorial fund in Stahl’s honor supports lectures by distinguished scholars in medieval art history, held at one or more locations around the country each year.

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