Visual artist, poet and art historian

Currently an MPhil/PhD student at the Warburg Institute, University of London, Carol Barbour‘s research project studies the tradition and transmission of the iconography of the Tabula Cebetis, 1500 – 1600. Dating from the first to second century CE, the Tabula Cebetis is an ekphrastic text that describes a painting found in the temple of Cronos, the god of time. The painting depicts the story of human life, consisting of three distinct rings or stages. Manuscript fragments of the text in the Greek language were reexamined by humanist scholars in the latter half of the fifteenth century. Subsequently artists interpreted the subject in a variety of media. Since there are no images of the Tabula Cebetis prior to 1507, the sixteenth-century artists had to invent the images, thereby creating a new iconography.

This research project studies the range of artistic interpretations and tracks the routes of transmission by examining the various compositional solutions, figural representations, and media. Some of the artists are anonymous, while others are known including Hans Holbein, Lambert Sustris, Hendrick Goltzius, and Jan Söns. In several cases, the artists are from the Northern regions of Europe and then travelled to Italy where they found employment with Italian patrons. Some of the works are single images, while in the case of Lambert Sustris, the artists created a cycle of five. Since the iconography of the Tabula Cebetis is complex, it is important to view the works in person, and at this stage most of the images produced in the sixteenth century have been examined.

Recently a chapter titled “The Artist’s Frame of Reference in Antoine Sucquet’s Via Vita Aeternae” was published in Ekphrastic Image-Making in Early Modern Europe, 1500 – 1700, edited by Art diFuria and Walter S. Melion. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004462069_004

Throughout her life, Carol has worked as an artist, creating drawings, paintings, sculptures, and artist books. Her work has been exhibited at galleries, libraries, and books fairs in Canada, USA, and Europe. Recent books include the poetry collection Infrangible (2018) and the artist book Alter Pieces (2019). Poems and essays are published by Scintilla, Canthius, The Fiddlehead, Sein und Werden, among others.

Carol Barbour. Tabula Cebetis (after de Hooghe). Oil on wood and plaster, 2018.

Si Dominus Volverit, oil on canvas, 61 x 76 cm, 2022. Carol Barbour.