SAS pick of the week.


On the island of Crete, there are around 850 historical churches containing fresco programmes, at least ninety-three of which contain vivid depictions of Hell. Many of these Hell scenes occur within the traditional setting of the Last Judgement, but quite frequently the eternal torments of the damned were also depicted independently. All the churches date from the period of the Venetian rule over Crete (1211-1669), and more specifically from the late 13th till the early 15th centuries. The Cretan Hell scenes thus occupy a unique place, on the cusp between two religious and artistic traditions, in the broader development of the iconography of Hell that took place in Byzantium and western Europe from the 12th century onwards. They also, through their quantity and differentiation, present an unparalleled visual documentation of the function of the notion of Hell in society at the time.

This conference seeks to offer a broader context for the Cretan images. It will look at the place of Hell in art and society in the late Byzantine era as well as late medieval Italy – at the way Hell was thought of and imagined as a physical place and at social concepts of retribution for committed sins. Papers will discuss a variety of texts and images giving expression to ideas of Hell prior to and contemporary with the Cretan frescoes – from early Christian descriptions of visits to the infernal regions to Dante’s epic evocation of the netherworld, and from the depiction of Hell in Byzantine burial chapels to frescoes in Tuscany and Liguria.

The conference is part of the Leverhulme International Network Project Damned in Hell in the Frescoes of Venetian-Dominated Crete (13th- 17th centuries) managed by Dr Angeliki Lymberopoulou (The Open University) and Prof. Vassiliki Tsamakda (University of Mainz).
See for details.

Organised by Dionysios Stathakopoulos and Rembrandt Duits

Please note: the conference will take place at King’s College, London on 31 May 2013 and at the Warburg Institute on 1 June 2013.

Speakers include: Jenny Albani (Open University of Greece) – Asya Bereznyak (PhD Student, Hebrew University of Jerusalem) – Brendan Cassidy (University of St Andrews) – Chiara Franceschini (The Warburg Institute) – Allie Terry-Fritsch (Bowling Green State University) – Theresa Holler (PhD Student, Kunsthistorisches Institut, Florence) – Dimitra Kotoula (Greek Ministry of Culture) – Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe (King’s College, London) – Dimitra Mastoraki (University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne) – Ioanna Rapti (King’s College, London) – Alessandro Scafi (The Warburg Institute) – Luigi Silvano (University of Rome) – Peter Tóth (The Warburg Institute) – Maria Vassilaki (University of Thessaly).

Conference registration

Attendance is free of charge, but registration is required. Please follow instructions to register and print your ticket at: