Christopher Lakey, a lecturer in the Department of Art History at Fordham University as of fall 2023, gave a lecture to the medievalist community on Thursday April 11. Dr. Lakey holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and a MA from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti “Annunciation”- 1348

Dr. Lakey’s lecture, “Space and Gold in Late Medieval Painting” sought to problematize the history of inclusion of gold in medieval art and explore a broader meaning of gold in medieval culture beyond the representation of the divine. The natural perspective of the backgrounds of Renaissance paintings was considered to be a modern improvement on the gold background seen in many medieval paintings. Dr. Lakey looked to reconsider this assertion by analyzing the relation of gold and space in medieval paintings, giving particular focus to the paintings of Ambrogio Lorenzetti (d. 1348). Lorenzetti was replicating Byzantine icons which had previously been reinterpreted by the Italian artists Simone Martini (d. 1344) and Lippo Memmi (d. 1356). Dr. Lakey compared the images of the Annunciation from Martini and Memmi, which had become the standard for depicting the event, with those of Lorenzetti, which diverged significantly. He focused on Lorenzetti’s depiction of Mary, particularly how remarkably calm and assured they were, but he paid the most attention to Lorenzetti’s use of space, and how he used careful arrangement and the gold background to indicate that this event did not take place in a vacuum, but in a wider world which could not be seen in the picture itself. Dr. Lakey concluded by comparing and contrasting Lorenzetti’s principles of space and gold with his contemporaries and those who would come after.