Jessica Berenbeim

Frances A. Yates Long-Term Fellow

1 November 2016 - 1 August 2017

The Past of the Past: Historical Distance and Medieval Art.

B.A., Harvard

M.Phil., Cambridge

Ph.D., Harvard


My research concerns medieval and early modern art and history, and its central theme is the role of visual culture in documentation, historical consciousness, and political power. I am particularly interested in charters and seals, the classical reception, monasticism, the history of archives, and the aesthetic dimensions of administrative history. My first book, Art of Documentation, looked at the implications of burgeoning medieval bureaucracy for the visual arts, and I'm completing a second book about bureaucratic documents themselves, called An Art History of the Charter. I have previously also held fellowships at the Courtauld Institute, the Paul Mellon Centre, and the National Archives, and I was a Fellow by Examination at Magdalen College, Oxford, from 2012 to 2016.


At the Warburg, I am starting a new project: 'The Past of the Past'. This project emerges from an article in progress, 'Historical Distance and Livy's Artistic Afterlife', about manuscripts of Livy's Ab urbe condita and the problem of historical distance in both medieval and modern intellectual history. The larger project will expand on this line of inquiry, to take a broader look at the medieval idea of antiquity, as well as the modern idea of the medieval idea of antiquity.



Selected publications



as author

—An Art History of the Charter, c.1050–c.1550 (in preparation).

—Art of Documentation: Documents and Visual Culture in Medieval England (PIMS/Toronto, 2015).

as editor

—with J. Cherry and L. de Beer, Seals and Status, 800–1700 (British Museum, forthcoming 2018).

—with T.A. Heslop, Invention and Imagination, special issue of British Art Studies (Paul Mellon/Yale, forthcoming 2017).


as translator

—A. de Schryver, The Prayer Book of Charles the Bold: A Study of a Flemish Masterpiece from the Burgundian Court (Getty Museum, 2008).



—'Historical Distance and Livy’s Artistic Afterlife' (in preparation).

—'Medieval Treaties and the Diplomatic Aesthetic', The Medieval Globe, 4/1 (special issue ed. B. Bedos-Rezak, forthcoming 2017).

—'The Tomb of Virgil', in The Virgil Encyclopedia, ed. R. Thomas and J. Ziolkowski (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013).

—'Personal and Institutional Patronage in the Sherborne Missal', in Patrons and Professionals in the Middle Ages, ed. P. Binski and E.A. New, Harlaxton Medieval Studies, XXII (Shaun Tyas, 2012).


—'Script after Print: Juan de Yciar and the Art of Writing', Word & Image, 26/3 (2010), see at: