Photograph of Jeffrey Hamburger


Jeffrey F. Hamburger

Kuno Francke Professor of German Art & Culture


Professor Hamburger's teaching and research focus on the art of the High and later Middle Ages. Among his areas of special interest are medieval manuscript illumination, text-image issues, the history of attitudes towards imagery and visual experience, German vernacular religious writing of the Middle Ages, especially in the context of mysticism, and, most recently, diagrams. Beginning with his dissertation on the Rothschild Canticles (Yale, 1987), much of his scholarship has focused on the art of female monasticism, a program of research that in 2005 culminated in an international exhibition, Krone und Schleier (Crown and Veil), held jointly in Bonn and Essen, that was sponsored by the German government. An English translation of the essays in the exhibition catalog was published by Columbia University Press in 2008.

Krone und Schleier spawned various collaborations in other media, in particular, with Prof. Hildegard E. Keller (Zürich and Bloomington, IN), the first, Stimmen aus mittelalterlichen Frauenklöstern: Ein Hörbuch mit geistlichen Texten auf Altsächsisch,Mittelhochdeutsch und Mittelniederdeutsch (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2005), an anthology of recordings of medieval German texts corresponding to manuscripts included in the exhibition, which could be listened to as part of the installation. A second recording accompanying the exhibition, Krone und Schleier: Musik aus mittelalterlichen Frauenklöstern/Crown and Veil: Music from Medieval Women’s Monasteries, Sequentia, Benjamin Bagby (Bonn: Kunst– und Ausstellungshalle, 2005), based on musical sources identified by Prof. Hamburger, was prepared by Benjamin Bagby and Sequentia. A further collaboration with Prof. Keller, Die Stunde des Hundes: Auf dem mystischen Weg zu Gott. Ein Hörbuch nach Heinrich Seuses «Exemplar» (Zürich: vdf Verlag, 2007), took the form of an audio play based on the writings of Heinrich Seuse, for which Prof. Hamburger provided an introductory essay.

More recent work has also often been collaborative in nature, including a two-volume study and edition, The Prayer Book of Ursula Begerin (Zürich-Dietikon: Urs Graf Verlag, 2015), co-authored with Nigel Palmer (Oxford), and another two-volume work on the most extensively illustrated set of liturgical manuscripts from the entire Middle Ages: Liturgical Life and Latin Learning at Paradies bei Soest, 1300–1425 (Münster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2017), co–authored with Margot Fassler, Susan Marti & Eva Schlotheuber. A further study, co-edited with Prof. Eva Schlotheuber (Düsseldorf), devoted to a single liturgical manuscript of exceptional importance recently acquired by Harvard’s Houghton Library, will appear in 2018: The Liber ordinarius of Nivelles: Liturgy as Interdisciplinary Intersection, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018).

In recent years Prof. Hamburger also initiated two major exhibition projects, both spread over multiples venues, of which the first, Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections (2016), was divided among the Houghton Library, Harvard University; the McMullen Museum, Boston College; and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The proceedings of the accompanying conference (Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections. Proceedings of the International Conference, November 3–5, Houghton Library, Harvard University, McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College, and the Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum, Boston, co-edited with his fellow curators, Lisa Fagin Davis, Anne-Marie Eze, Nancy Netzer and William Stoneman, is forthcoming. The second exhibition project,  devoted to illumination in the age of Gutenberg in the Holy Roman Empire, took the form of two major exhibitions in Munich and Vienna, plus ten additional “satellite” exhibitions, each accompanied by a catalogue, as well as an essay volume, soon to be published in a revised English translation (Painting the Page in the Age of Print: Central European Manuscript Illumination of the Fifteenth Century, ed. Jeffrey F. Hamburger, Toronto: PIMS, 2018) and a set of symposium proceedings (Unter Druck. Mitteleuropäische Buchmalerei im 15. Jahrhundert. Akten der Tagung, Wien, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 13.1.–17.1.2016, co-edited with Maria Theisen, Petersberg: Imhoff, 2018). Additional edited volumes have been devoted to the graphic dimensions of script (Sign and Design: Script as Image in a Cross–Cultural Perspective, 300–1600 CE, co–edited with Brigitte Bedos–Rezak (Washington D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 2016), an issue previously addressed in his study, Script as Image, Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts 21 (Leuven: Peeters, 2014) and The Iconicity of Script: Writing as Image in the Middle Ages, special issue of Word & Image 23/3 (2011).

Building on previous work on diagrams in the Middle Ages (‘Haec figura demonstrat’. Diagramme in einem Pariser Exemplar von Lothars von Segni ,De missarum mysteriis’ aus dem frühen 13. Jahrhundert, Wolfgang Stammler Gastprofessur für Germanische Philologie: Vorträge 19, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013), Prof. Hamburger has just completed a subsequent study on the same subject, but in a broader perspective: From Cross to Crucifix: Typology, Diagrams and Devotion in Berthold of Nuremberg's Commentary on Hrabanus Maurus' In honorem sanctae crucis (forthcoming).

At present, Prof. Hamburger’s principal work in progress consists of a loan exhibition, planned for the Pierpont Morgan Library in 2020/2021: Imperial Splendor: Manuscript Illumination in Central Europe 800–1525.

The recipient of numerous awards, including fellowships from the John S. Guggenheim Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the NEH, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Humboldt-Stiftung, Prof. Hamburger was elected a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America in 2001, a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009, and a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2010. He serves on numerous advisory boards, among them, those of the German Manuscript Cataloguing Centers, the Europäisches Romanikzentrum, the Centre International de Codicologie, Bibliothèque Royale Albert Ier, Brussels, the Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters, Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Munich. Among the journals he co-edits or advises are Umění/Art Journal, Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, and the Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie und Altertum. Book series of which he is editor or co-editor include Image—Text—Context (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto) and Kulturtopographie des alemannischen Raums: Texte und Untersuchungen.

In addition to numerous articles, Prof. Hamburger's books include: The Mind's Eye: Art and Theological Argument in the Medieval West, co-edited with Anne-Marie Bouché (Princeton: Department of Art & Archaeology, Princeton University, Princeton University Press, 2005); Die Ottheinrich-Bibel. Kommentar zur Faksimile-Ausgabe der Handschrift Cgm 8010/1.2 der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München co-authored with Brigitte Gullath, Karin Schneider, & Robert Suckale (Luzern: Faksimile-Verlag, 2002); St. John the Divine: The Deified Evangelist in Medieval Art and Theology (Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002); The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (New York: Zone Books, 1998), awarded the Charles Rufus Morey Prize of the College Art Association and the Roland H. Bainton Book Prize in Art & Music; Nuns as Artists: The Visual Culture of a Medieval Convent (Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996, awarded the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History of the American Philosophical Society and the Otto Gründler Prize of the International Congress of Medieval Studies; and The Rothschild Canticles : Art and Mysticism in Flanders and the Rhineland circa 1300 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), awarded the Arlt Award in the Humanities by the Council of Graduate Schools and the John Nicholas Brown Prize of the Medieval Academy of America. His most recent book, Leaves from Paradise: The Cult of John at the Dominican Convent of Paradies bei Soest , Houghton Library Studies, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Houghton Library, distributed by Harvard University Press), was published in 2008.

Professor Hamburger holds both his B.A. and Ph.D. in art history from Yale University. He previously held teaching positions at Oberlin College and the University of Toronto. He has been a guest professor in Zurich, Paris, Oxford and Fribourg, Switzerland.