Medieval tombs often depict husband and wife lying side-by-side, and hand in hand, immortalised in elegantly carved stone: what Philip Larkin's poem 'An Arundel Tomb' later described as their "stone fidelity". This first full account of the "double tomb" places its rich tradition into dialogue with powerful discourses of gender, marriage, politics and emotion during the Middle Ages. As well as offering new interpretations of some of the most famous medieval tombs, such as those found in Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, it draws attention to a host of lesser-known memorials from throughout Europe, providing an innovative vantage point from which to reconsider the material culture of medieval marriage. Setting these twin effigies alongside wedding rings and dresses as the agents of matrimonial ritual and embodied symbolism, the author presents the "double tomb" as far more than mere romantic sentiment. Rather, it reveals the careful artifice beneath their seductive emotional surfaces: the artistic, religious, political and legal agendas underlying the medieval rhetoric of married love.
Dr Jessica Barker is a specialist in medieval art, with a particular emphasis on sculpture. She studied at the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she was subsequently Henry Moore Postdoctoral Fellow. She joined The Courtauld in 2018, after two years as a lecturer in world art at the University of East Anglia.
Jessica’s research addresses questions of death, emotion and the body in medevial art. This recent book, Stone Fidelity: Marriage and Emotion in Medieval Tomb Sculpture, explores the intersection of love and death in funerary art. She has published widely on death and commemoration, with articles in journals including Art History, Gesta, and The Sculpture Journal. Forthcoming publications include a study of the effigy of the Black Prince at Canterbury Cathedral.