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Title: Diagram and dimension : visualising time in the drawings of Opicinus de Canistris (1296-c.1352)
Author: Griffin, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6856
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis focuses on the representation of time within the diagrams of Opicinus de Canistris, a cleric working in the scriptorium of the Avignon Papacy from 1329, who created a collection of fifty-two large, highly complex, unbound drawings (BAV, MS Pal. Lat. 1993). The intimidating volume and variety of information which each image displays, amalgamating amongst other elements maps, calendars, astrological tables and theological hierarchies, led their twentieth-century interpreters to conclude that Opicinus was insane. This has been to the detriment of a properly historicised interpretation of his drawings. The dissertation shows that the calendrical and cartographic features of these pictures are neither ornamental nor vague allegories of temporality and geography, but methodically constructed and meticulously measured instruments. By focusing on the calendars of the Palatinus, it demonstrates how Opicinus incorporated and creatively configured new sources, temporal and theological, derived principally from the Avignon papal court, into representations of time in order to create unique cosmologies which sought to visualise, and so better to comprehend, the metaphysical themes of time, space and God. In addition to elucidating a selection of Opicinus's neglected drawings, they are contextualised here in order to illustrate their value to the study of medieval visual culture. Their comparison to other sources made in Avignon shows how a particular type of diagram, which used technological renderings of time and space for an essentially theological purpose, was characteristic of the Avignon court. This indicates that Opicinus's drawings, in their form and content, were made in response to a discussion at the court concerning the shape of the cosmos and the place of the Church within it. Their interpretation also contributes to larger questions concerning the changing perception of time and function of diagrams in the fourteenth century, whilst demonstrating how the history of technology can inform the study of visual culture.
Supervisor: Rosser, Gervase Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Art