Projects and research

Lighting devices and light in medieval church interiors
Sacral lighting devices by no means served exclusively to illuminate the church interior. Rather, they fulfilled far-reaching tasks in the context of medieval piety and social life. They were often closely connected with devotion – in the sense of individual inner contemplation and prayer – with the liturgy and with the representation of their donors. The light they emitted also defined light spaces that were characterised by a special atmosphere and were related to the sacred furnishings they illuminated. Finally, the question of how the sometimes extremely elaborate light displays in medieval sacred spaces were organised and financed must be investigated.

Multi-flame Bronze Lamps of the High and Late Middle Ages in Ritual Context
(Project Preparation at the Max Weber Centre at the University of Erfurt)
Although lighting devices were an essential part of Jewish and Christian rituals in the Middle Ages, they are still largely a research desideratum. The project turns to the almost unknown example of the multi-flame bronze lamps of the High and Late Middle Ages, of which an outstanding specimen has been preserved in Erfurt Cathedral. The project investigates the relationship between the typology, genesis and function of these lamps, which have been preserved both materially and visually, and the rituals of Jews and Christians of their time.

The seven-branched candelabrum (1596) in St Peter’s Church in Riga
(Art History Institute of the Academy of Sciences in Riga/Böckler-Mare-Balticum Foundation)
The monumental bronze candelabrum, attributed to the Riga city founder Hans Meyer, had reached Poland during the Second World War and returned from there to Latvia in 2012. In addition to the attribution to Hans Meyer, the circumstances of the candelabrum’s origin as well as its original placement and function are to be investigated on behalf of the Riga Art History Institute. Finally, it will be placed in the tradition of the Christian seven-armed candelabra, which will go hand in hand with an iconographic analysis of the example in Riga. After the candelabrum has been examined on site with the kind support of the Böckler-Mare-Balticum Foundation and research has been carried out in local archives and museums, the results will be published.

Linen embroideries from North German women’s convents using the example of Preetz Monastery
The aim is to investigate the dense personal-ideal network of profane-sacred living environments of the late Middle Ages on the basis of North German linen embroideries. The linen embroideries preserved from Preetz Monastery are distinguished by their production and first use, some of which had previously been made and used outside the monastery, by the intentions of external donors who brought them to the monastery, and by their depictions, which are characterised by an interlocking of the sacred and the profane and include biblical scenes and depictions of saints on the one hand and minnescenes, ornaments, animals and coats of arms on the other.

The reception of the Middle Ages in 19th century iron art casting
The medieval, usually sacred art cited in iron art casting was made usable above all for the bourgeois-profane world of the time within the framework of a sometimes radical recontextualisation. Due to the functional diversity of the cast-iron objects that emerged from the reception of the Middle Ages, they were used for a wide variety of purposes and, in the process, acquired a meaning that differed greatly from their original intention. The aim is to examine the various facets of this recontextualisation.


Dr. Vera Henkelmann
Art historian

Am Riffersbach 42
52249 Eschweiler



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