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Monday, February 6, 2023

Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece

Grateful to BSANA for this advance notice. In brief:

It is my pleasure to invite you to attend the Jan. 26 opening of, and the Mar. 25 conference held in association with, an exhibition I am curating.  Please also feel free to spread the word to others who may be interested. RSVP/registration details below.

Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece (Jan. 26 – April 6, 2023) 
Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Art Gallery, Prior Performing Arts Center, the College of the Holy Cross, 1 College St., Worcester, MA

"Bringing the Holy Land Home" explores the impact of art objects manufactured in the eastern Mediterranean on the visual culture of medieval England and western Europe. At its center are an iconic set of mold-made tiles, discovered at Chertsey Abbey outside of London, but probably commissioned for London’s Westminster Palace around 1250. These include a famous pair of roundels showing the English king Richard the Lionheart and the Ayyubid sultan Saladin (Salah al-Din) in combat. Excavated from the ruined site of Chertsey Abbey in the 19th century, the original composition of the fragmented tiles has been reconstructed, including their lost Latin texts. The reconstruction has demonstrated not only that the entire mosaic addressed the theme of the crusades, but also that its design evoked that of imported Byzantine and Islamic silks.  Carried home by crusaders, Byzantine and Islamic silks as well as ceramics, metalwork and other items were highly valued by European audiences, who incorporated them into sacred objects, displayed them in places of esteem, and imitated their designs – as was the case with the Chertsey tiles. The composition of the Chertsey floor relies on visual traditions of textiles developed by Muslim and Orthodox Christian artists in the eastern Mediterranean, even while the iconography attends to the theme of English victory over foreign opponents. By pairing the Chertsey tiles with contemporaneous European and eastern Mediterranean objects, this exhibition endeavors to illuminate the specific and complex contexts that informed the tiles’ production and design.  

Along with the Chertsey tiles, on loan from the British Museum, this exhibition also displays the Morgan Library's Crusader Bible and medieval objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, the Worcester art Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, and Harvard Art Museums.

Exhibition website at 

Exhibition catalogue with contributions from Michael Wood (OBE), Andrea Achi, Paroma Chatterjee, Meredith Fluke, Eurydice Georganteli, Sean Gilsdorf, Sarah Guerin, Cynthia Hahn, Eva R. Hoffman, Richard A. Leson, A. L. McClanan, Nina Masin-Moyer ’22, Grace P. Morrissey ’22, Suleiman Mourad, David Nicolle, Scott Redford, Euan Roger, Alicia Walker, and Elizabeth Dospel Williams, available at

Thurs. Jan 26, Opening Lecture & Reception
Thurs. Jan 26, 4pm, Rehm Library
Dr. William Purkis, "Bringing the Holy Land Home: Crusaders, Relics, and the Transformation of Latin Christendom’s Sacred Material World." Dr. Purkis is Head of School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham.
5:30pm, Opening Reception, Cantor Gallery
Sat. March 25, 8:30am-7pm, "Bringing the Holy Land Home" conference, held in association with the NEMC (New England Medieval Consortium) 
Registration details will be posted at in the coming weeks.  
Speakers:Lloyd de Beer, the British MuseumParoma Chatterjee, University of MichiganPaul Cobb, University of PennsylvaniaMatthew Gabriele, Virginia TechSarah Guerin, University of PennsylvaniaCynthia Hahn, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New YorkEva Hoffman, Tufts UniversityRichard Leson, University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeAmanda Luyster, College of the Holy CrossSuleiman Mourad, Smith CollegeNicholas Paul, Fordham UniversityMatthew Reeve, Queen’s UniversityEuan Roger, National Archives, KewNaomi Speakman, the British MuseumElizabeth Williams, Dumbarton Oaks

Finally, if you would like to bring a group to visit the show on any date that the gallery is open (M-F 10 a.m. - 5 pm | Sat noon - 5 pm, Jan. 26-April 6), just email me to make arrangements.  Admission and parking are free.

I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the coming months!


Amanda Luyster

Bringing the Holy Land Home

 Guest Curator: Amanda LuysterGallery Director: Meredith Fluke  Supporters and Contributors: Deborah Coleman Diggins and Timothy W. DigginsGladys Krieble Delmas FoundationInternational Center of Medieval ArtMary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and CultureNational Endowment for the Humanities Boston Museum of Fine ArtsBritish MuseumDumbarton Oaks CollectionHarvard University Art MuseumsMetropolitan Museum of ArtMorgan Library & MuseumWorcester Art Museum

Dr. Amanda LuysterAssistant Professor, Department of Visual ArtsCollege of The Holy Cross1 College Street, Worcester, MA 01610
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Guest Curator, Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece

#highereducation #research #Art #archaeology #history #Byzantine #Medieval #Christianity #church