Research Projects

he Warburg Institute supports a number of research projects at any one time, continuing a commitment to international scholarly collaboration begun by its founders in Hamburg, now nearly 100 years ago. The entries below provides further information on and links to publications of continuing and completed projects in recent years. Further projects, completed or suspended before 2000, may be found through the Project Publications listing.

Aby Warburg:
Essays and Lectures
Astrolabes in Medieval
Jewish Cultures
Bilderfahrzeuge
Research Group
Body and Image in Arts
and Science (BIAS)
Census of Antique Art
and Architecture known
to the Renaissance
Centre for the History of
Arabic Studies in Europe
(CHASE)
The Damned in Hell:
Frescoes in Venetian-
dominated Crete
Encounters with the
Orient in Early Modern
European Scholarship (EOS)

Francis Bacon,
the Medicine of the Mind
and Natural Philosophy

Islam and Tibet,
8th-17th Centuries:
Cultural Interactions
Joseph Justus Scaliger
 (1540-1609):
The Correspondence
The Paper Museum of
Cassiano dal Pozzo
(1588-1657)
Production and Reading
of Music Sources (PRoMS)
Vernacular Aristotelianism
in Renaissance Italy
The Warburg Institute
Archive Database
The Warburg Institute
Iconographic Database

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Warburg Institute Archive, III.120.1, fol. 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aby Warburg: Essays and Lectures

• Continuing project, initiated October 2011 thanks to a 3-year grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

• Objective: preparation of an edition of Aby Warburg’s Kleine Schriften und Vorträge (“Essays and Lectures”), for publication as Band III.1 of the De Gruyter series Aby Warburg, Gesammelte Schriften - Studienausgabe (“Collected Writings”), edited by Ulrich Pfisterer, Horst Bredekamp, Michael Diers, Uwe Fleckner, Michael Thimann and Claudia Wedepohl.

Subdivided into two or three volumes, the edition will contain more than 40 texts by Aby Warburg, the majority hitherto unpublished and based on new transcriptions from the source texts in the Warburg Institute Archive. The volumes will include selected seminar papers from Warburg’s time as a student, scripts of his major lectures and lecture series on Italian Renaissance art, astrology and other subjects, as well as extensive fragments, such as an article that was abandoned at proof stage. Other, more occasional texts include a play, memoranda on cultural-political issues relevant to the University of Hamburg and its predecessors, newspaper articles relating to WWI as well as speeches addressed to academic audiences at the Kultur­wissen­schaft­liche Bibliothek Warburg and elsewhere. The texts are organised in chronological order as to reveal the development and re-occurrence of topics throughout Warburg’s scholarly life. Thus for the first time, the reader will be able to access and assess the full breadth of Warburg’s intellectual achievement and the wide range of textual genres he used to engage with his diverse audiences.

This project is led by Dr Claudia Wedepohl (Warburg Institute) and Professor Michael Diers (Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte, Humboldt Universität Berlin), as editors, with Dr Eckart Marchand (Warburg Institute; now Bilder­fahrzeuge Project) as academic assistant. Following completion of the funded stage of the project in 2013, the editors’ work on the edition continues. Publication is anticipated in 2019.

The illustration shows a detail of a page from ‘Das Bildnis des italienischen Liraspielers in Dublin: Attalante Migliorati’, of 1902 (Warburg Institute Archive, III.57.4.1, fol. 4)

Warburg / Isidore of Seville       Thyssen

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Astrolabes in Medieval Jewish Cultures

• Project approaching completion; initiated in May 2011 thanks to a 3-year grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

• Objective: to survey on the one hand astrolabes and related instruments made or possessed by Jews in the Middle Ages, and on the other, Hebrew texts on the construction and use of the astrolabe, with the aim of producing a monograph on the place of the astrolabe in medieval Jewish society and an illustrated catalogue of the instruments.

This project was run jointly by the Warburg Institute and the Museum of the History of Science (Oxford University). The researchers were Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute) as Principal Investigator; Silke Ackermann (British Museum), succeeded by Stephen Johnston (Museum of the History of Science) as Co-Investigators, and Josefina Rodriguez Arribas (Warburg Institute) as Researcher.

• Click here for more information

• Publications 

Warburg / Isidore of Seville  

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Bilderfahrzeuge Research Group

• Continuing project, initiated in 2013 by the director, Professor Peter Mack, in collaboration with Professors Andreas Beyer (University of Basel), Horst Bredekamp (Humboldt University of Berlin), Uwe Fleckner (Warburg-Haus Hamburg) and Gerhard Wolf (Kunst­historische Institut in Florenz); funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and realised in cooperation with the Max Weber Foundation.

• Objective: to explore the migration of images, objects and ideas in a broad geographical and historical context. The metaphorical term Bilderfahrzeuge (“image vehicles”) is a neologism created by Aby Warburg. It alludes to the specific significance he ascribed to images within cultural history due to their distinct mobility.

The Bilderfahrzeuge Research Group hosts a lecture series at the Warburg Institute; it also holds regular conferences and occasional workshops, and curates exhibitions. The group consists of 15 scholars in the UK and in Germany; each scholar conducts research within their specialist field while working in close collaboration with the other members of the group.

The current project (2013-18) is Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology’. A full description and details of the individual research sub-projects which contribute to it may be found on the dedicated Bilderfahrzeuge website. The research participants are listed there and also in the relevant project publications list:

• Bilderfahrzeuge website

• Publications list: ‘Bilderfahrzeuge. Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology’ 
 

                

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Body and Image in Arts and Science

• Continuing project, initiated at the Warburg Institute in 2016 by the director, Professor David Freedberg, thanks to funding from the Nomis Foundation.

• Objective: to focus on the biological mechanisms and cultural factors which shape our relations to other people in a culture powered by images.

The BIAS project aims to address timely research questions at the intersection of sciences and humanities, seeking to forge new and innovative synergies across the disciplines, in line with Warburg Institute's commitment to building bridges across the boundaries between the humanities, arts and sciences. It builds on the inter-disciplinary approach developed by its leader, Professor Manos Tsakiris, to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms which shape the experience of embodiment and self-identity. Professor Tsakiris is supported by a research team comprising Dr Ruben Azevedo, Dr Julia Christensen, Dr Sophie De Beukelaer and Dr Lara Maister

• Visit the BIAS website

• BIAS Project publications

     

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Census of Antique Art and Architecture Known to the Renaissance

• Project based at the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection from 1946 until 2000, culminating in an online database, now maintained by Humboldt University of Berlin, with support from the Warburg Institute, the Bibliotheca Hertziana (Max Planck Institute), the Department of History of Art of the University of Hamburg, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

• Visit the Census website

The Census offers a systematic documentation of antique works of art known to artists during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The compilation of this documentation was begun in 1946, at the instigation of the Warburg Institute’s first director, Fritz Saxl, the art historian Richard Krautheimer and the archaeologist Karl Lehmann. The first dedicated researcher was Phyllis Pray Bober, of the Institute of Fine Arts in New York. In 1957 Ruth Rubinstein joined the project, providing the Census with its London base. The work of transferring the ongoing research to a database began in 1981, under the directorship of J. B. Trapp, with support and collaboration from the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome under the direction of Arnold Nesselrath. From 1995, the work continued with support from the Humboldt University of Berlin, at the initiative of Horst Bredekamp. Additional funding and support was provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

In addition to the online Census, the documented material can be consulted in the form of photographs in the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection and through the handbook by Bober and Rubinstein first published in 1986, Renaissance Artists and Antique Sculpture. A journal, Pegasus: Berliner Beiträge zum Nachleben der Antike, published since 1999 by the Humboldt University, provides a discussion forum. 

• History of the Census project 

Warburg / Isidore of Seville                      

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Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe (CHASE)

• Continuing project, initiated in 2011 by Dr Jan Loop, Professor Charles Burnett and Professor Alastair Hamilton at the instigation of Professor Peter Mack, and now conjoined with the Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship (EOS) project.

• Objectives: to promote research on the transmission of Arab scientific, philosophical, medical, theological and geographical knowledge from the Middle Ages to the end of the 18th century; to deepen understanding of the historical flow of ideas and knowledge between the Arab world and Europe; to enhance appreciation of the impact of the Muslim/Arab world on the development of European science and civilization.

• CHASE and EOS publications

• Visit the CHASE website

• Visit the EOS website 

The image is from an Ottoman miniature showing the meeting in 1556 of John II Sigismund Zapolya of Hungary and the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

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The Damned in Hell in the Frescoes of Venetian-dominated Crete

• Continuing Open University, University of Mainz and Warburg Institute project, initiated in 2010 with funding from the Leverhulme Trust. The participation of the Warburg Institute was arranged by Dr Rembrandt Duits.

• Objectives: to examine representations of the Damned in Hell in Cretan wall paintings produced during the Venetian domination of the island (1211-1669).

This project is led and co-managed by Dr Angeliki Lymberopoulou at the Open University, and Prof. Dr. Vasiliki Tsamakda at the University of Mainz, and involves a team of academics from seven institutions in the UK, USA, Germany and Greece. The Warburg Institute is represented by Dr Rembrandt Duits. The research team has gathered photographic and documentary material and is engaged in analysing the sinners and their punishments in Hell, and in exploring the ways in which these images relate to the broader contexts of the island and the Byzantine and Mediterranean spheres.

Damned in Hell project publications
• The principal outcome of the project will be Hell in the Byzantine World: A History of Art and Religion in Venetian Crete and the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. Angeliki Lymberopoulou and Vassiliki Tsamakda, 2 vols, Cambridge (CUP), forthcoming 2020
• There will also be a database presenting photographs and information regarding the churches on Crete which have been examined in the project.

• Visit the Damned in Hell project website

The image on the left shows sinners asleep on a Sunday: fresco, 1357-58, Church of Christ the Saviour, village of Hagia Eirini, prefecture of Chania.

      Warburg / Isidore of Seville  

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Encounters with the Orient in Early Modern European Scholarship (EOS)

• Continuing project, initiated in 2013 by Professor Charles Burnett, Professor Alastair Hamilton and Dr Jan Loop, thanks to funding from HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) under the Cultural Encounters scheme.

• Objectives: to document the European scholarly encounter with the Orient between 1580 and 1800, examining the ways in which the exchange of knowledge and ideas was organised and structured, and seeking to document the change from a religious to a cultural perspective on Oriental societies.

The project is led by the Centre for the History of Arabic Studies in Europe (CHASE) at the Warburg Institute, represented by Professor Charles Burnett. The principal resesearch participants are Dr Jan Loop (University of Kent), Professor Bernd Roling (FU Berlin), Professor Martin Mulsow (Erfurt University, Literaturhaus Berlin), Professor Gerard Wiegers (University of Amsterdam, Leiden University Library, National Museum of Antiquities), and Professor Outi Merisalo (University of Jyväskylä).

• CHASE and EOS publications

• Visit the CHASE website

• Visit the EOS website 

                   

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Francis Bacon, the Medicine of the Mind and Natural Philosophy in Early Modern England

• Project initiated in 2009 as the initiative of Dr (now Professor) Guido Giglioni, with funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant under the European Community’s 7th Framework Programme. Now approaching completion.

• Objectives: to recover a corpus of knowledge on the notion of medicina mentis, which, in its Baconian definition, became part of the language of experimental philosophy and of early modern science in the 16th and 17th centuries. This area of knowledge straddles a variety of different fields and has therefore escaped the attention of scholars working on the history of natural philosophy. Its recovery makes possible a new and fruitful reading of Bacon’s programme for the reformation of knowledge.

The project was led by Dr Giglioni at the Warburg Institute and was carried out in conjunction with the New Europe College (Colegiul Noua Europă) in Bucharest. The research team consisted of Dr Giglioni, Dr Sorana Corneanu (New Europe College), Dr Dana Jalobeanu (New Europe College) and James Lancaster (Warburg Institute).

• More on this project

• Publications 

The image shows the globe from the title-page of Francis Bacon, Sylva sylvarum or a Natural History in Ten Centuries, London 1631. 

Warburg / Isidore of Seville      

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Islam and Tibet, 8th-17th Centuries: Cultural Interactions

• Completed project, initiated in 2005 by Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

• Objective: to provide a historical description of the cultural interactions between Tibet and the Islamic world, and to explore their impact on science and religious ideas in these two cultures. A subsidiary objective is the establishment of an active, inter-disciplinary international network of scholars working on the connections between Buddhism and Islam. 

The project was based at the Warburg Institute. The researchers were Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim,  Dr Anna Akasoy, and Dr Georgios T. Halkias.

Histories of sciences and of ideas have tended on the whole to treat their subject matters in isolationist terms, discussing ‘Western sciences’, ‘Eastern medicines’, and so on. The transmission of Indian, Persian and Arabic science and philosophy to the West has been well documented, but, by contrast, little attention has been paid to the fruitful exchanges within Asia, facilitated by the wide expanse of the Islamic realm, and the well-frequented commercial and pilgrim routes across Central Asia. The Islam and Tibet project undertook to revise the inherently Eurocentric approach to the study of the history of sciences and ideas. Illuminating points of common heritage between Islam and other cultures may also, in the longer run, assist in creating better understanding in our world today.

• More on this project

• Islam and Tibet: project publications

The image shows North East Asia with Buhayrat and Lake Barawan

Warburg / Isidore of Seville  

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Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609): Edition of the Correspondence

• Completed project, begun in 2004 as the initiative of Professor Anthony Grafton (Princeton University), a long-term friend of and collaborator with the Warburg Institute, and funded principally by his donation of a substantial portion of his award from the Balzan Prize Foundation. The Mellon Foundation and Princeton University generously supplemented the initial award from the Balzan Foundation.

• Objective: publication of an edition of Scaliger’s correspondence. 

The Warburg Institute agreed to host Professor Grafton's project and supplied the essential intellectual and institutional support. Professor Jill Kraye took on a supervisory role, and in 2004 two editors were appointed, Dr Paul Botley and Dr Dirk van Miert. Among the many acts of scholarly generosity which made the edition possible, special thanks are owed to Professor Henk Jan de Jonge (Leiden University), who read and commented on the entire edition before publication. Donations from Dutch benefactors have allowed the publisher to keep the price of the edition relatively low.

The simultaneous publication of the eight volumes of letters in 2012 was the culmination of seven years of careful work at the Warburg Institute. Joseph Scaliger was regarded by his contemporaries as the greatest scholar of his day, and the extraordinary range and ambition of his activities is well documented in the correspondence. The edition contains many letters which had never been printed before. It is a major landmark in modern scholarship on the Renaissance and marks a significant advance in our understanding of the intellectual frontiers of early modern Europe. The project outcomes do not end with the edition, however, since the work generated conferences, over 20 further publications (books, articles, chapters and compendium entries by the edition editors) as well as media appearances and other activities.

• More on this project

• Publications 

The image is from Illustrium Hollandiae … Ordinum Alma Academia Leidensis, Leiden 1614, p. 184. 

    

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The Paper Museum of Cassiano dal Pozzo: catalogue raisonné

• Continuing project, established at the Warburg Institute in 2000 as the initiative of Professor Nicholas Mann, and carried out in collaboration with the Royal Collection Trust.

• Objective: publication of a catalogue raisonné of the collection of more than 7,000 watercolours, drawings and prints, assembled during the seventeenth century by the famous Roman patron and collector, Cassiano dal Pozzo, and his brother Carlo Antonio dal Pozzo.

The catalogue is being published in 20 parts, divided into three series. Each part is devoted to a particular area of the collection and the catalogues are written by leading scholars in the relevant areas. 
– Series A:  Antiquities and Architecture (in 10 parts)
– Series B:   Natural History (8 parts)
– Series C: Prints (2 parts).

The publication of a catalogue raisonné of the Paper Museum provides access for the first time to a major source of reference for the intellectual, cultural and scientific history of seventeenth-century Europe. The drawings are catalogued by subject-matter in an attempt to reconstruct the method of classification employed by Cassiano. The objective is to identify the subject of each drawing and to describe the circumstances in which the drawing was made, wherever possible with reference to surviving documentation.

• More on this project (including information on the volumes published so far) 

 

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The Production and Reading of Music Sources (PRoMS)

Mise en-page in manuscripts and printed books containing polyphonic music, 1480-1530

• The research at the Warburg Institute which contributed to this project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), is now complete. The work of the project participants continues, however, since the PRoMS digital resource, now available online through the King’s College London website, is kept constantly updated with new research findings. The Warburg Institute is represented by Professor Charles Burnett, who encouraged the setting up of the project at the Institute and remains a member of the PRoMS Advisory Board.

• Objective: creation of an integrated digital resource for the study of the production and reading of polyphonic music sources from the period c. 1480 to c. 1530 in a European context, achieved through a systematic analysis and description of the mise-en-page: the ways in which verbal text, musical notation and other graphic devices interact on the pages of manuscripts and printed editions.

The PRoMS project is a collaboration of the University of PRoMS (School of Arts, Languages and Cultures), Bangor University (School of Music), the University of York (Department of History of Art), the Warburg Institute and King’s College London (Department of Digital Humanities). At the time of the funded work at the Warburg Institute, the principal investigator was Professor Thomas Schmidt (University of Manchester; now University of Huddersfield), the co-investigators were Professor Charles Burnett (Warburg Institute) and Professor Christian Leitmeir (Bangor University; now University of Oxford), the associate director was Dr Hanna Vorholt (Warburg Institute; now University of York), and the digital director was Dr Paul Vetch (King’s College London). Research assistants for art history and musicology respectively were Dr Mara Hofmann, Dr Joanna Fronska, Dr Eleanor Giraud (all Warburg Institute) and Dr Ian Rumbold (University of Manchester); the doctoral researcher for printed editions was Sanna Raninen (University of Manchester).

• PRoMS project publications

 PRoMS website

The image shows Eton College Library, MS 178, fols 1v-2r (Ⓒ Eton College Library) 

  Warburg / Isidore of Seville         

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Vernacular Aristotelianism in Renaissance Italy, c. 1400-c. 1650

• Completed project, established at the Warburg Institute in 2010 by Professor Jill Kraye, as a collaboration with the University of Warwick (Centre for the Study of the Renaissance), funded by an AHRC standard grant.

• Objective: to redress the almost exclusive concentration on Latin Aristotelianism among historians of philosophy and ideas in recent decades, by exploring the ways in which Aristotelianism increasingly reached a broad and non-Latinate public.

As far as is known, this was the first funded research project world-wide to study the Renaissance diffusion of Aristotelian works in the Italian vernacular. The project brought together historians of language, literature, philosophy, science and culture. It was led by Dr David Lines (University of Warwick) together with Professor Simon Gilson (University of Warwick) and Professor Jill Kraye (Warburg Institute). The project partner was Professor Luca Bianchi (Università del Piemonte Orientale), the research fellow was Dr Eugenio Refini (University of Warwick), and the doctoral researcher was Grace Allen (Warburg Institute).

The project outcomes include the Vernacular Aristotelianism in Renaissance Italy Database (VARI 2.0), an electronic census and description of all relevant materials in both manuscript and print. 

• Publications (full list)

The image shows a page from Francesco Nuti’s Italian translation of Aristotle’s Ethics (1464). Venice, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana MS It. II 1 [=4934], fol. 1r.

       

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The Warburg Institute Archive Database

• Continuing Warburg Institute Archive project, set up in 1993 as the initiative of Professor Nicholas Mann and funded at different times through generous contributions from Prof. Dr. Martin Warnke, who donated a substantial portion of his Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the Deutsche Forschungs­­gemein­­schaft; the Samuel H. Kress Foundation (for conservation work); the Getty Grant Program; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the AHRC; and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (through the Bilder­fahrzeuge Project).

• Objective: creation of a scholarly database cataloguing the holdings of the Warburg Institute.

The project began with the appointment of Dr Dorothea McEwan as Warburg Institute Archivist in 1993. Dr McEwan established the structure of the entries for the Correspondence section of the database and made substantial headway in researching, writing and editing the contents, both until and after her retirement in 2006. Further sections are now being prepared under the project leadership of her successor as Archivist, Dr Claudia Wedepohl. The assistant is Dr Eckart Marchand.

At present the database contains over 53,400 items from the Archive’s Correspondence Collection. In addition to basic information such as dates, writer, recipient, type of correspondence (letter, postcard, cable), each entry in this section contains an English abstract of the contents of the catalogued item. Biographical information concerning the individuals featuring in the Correspondence Collection is linked to almost ever record. A second section of the database covers the subject headings of Aby Warburg’s index card boxes (Zettelkästen), comprising c. 3,200 items. 

• Visit the Warburg Institute Archive Database 

           

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The Warburg Institute Iconographic Database

• Continuing Warburg Institute Photographic Collection project, funded internally, through a succession of grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and through a 2010-12 grant from the Dean’s Development Fund, School of Advanced Study (University of London).

• Objective: to facilitate research by creating an online taxonomy of iconographic subjects, each illustrated with examples. The taxonomy covers subjects in world art dating from the Stone Age to the present, though with a strong emphasis on European art from classical Antiquity till c. 1800. Specific subjects are divided among broad subject groupings, such as Religious Iconography, Secular Iconography, Gods and Myths, Magic and Science, Social Life, Ornament, and so on. The taxonomy is organised so as to draw attention to the ways in which many of the subjects developed, diversified, became conflated, or were discontinued, at different times and in different traditions.

The project is led at present by Dr Paul Taylor and Dr Rembrandt Duits, Curator and Deputy Curator of the Warburg Institute Photographic Collection, with technical support from Dr Richard Gartner, the Warburg Institute’s Digital Librarian.

• Visit the Iconographic Database

      

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