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In 2008, it was suggested that although the publication of the book and the opening of its accompanying exhibit were scheduled for further down the line, van Buren should give her Jasper Walls lectures sooner.
In May, she gave three lectures, entitled “The Role of Dress in Society,” “Do They Wear What We See?
In the 1990s, an old friend rode in to help the book finally come to fruition.
Wieck, now working at the Morgan Library & Museum, wanted to bring this research out of its tower and share it with the world.
Van Buren and Wieck were seeking the very best representations of contemporary medieval fashion.
With this selection, a timeline began to form, yielding not only a chronology but an illustration of how the evolution of medieval fashion mirrored the evolution of medieval society.
This never-ending research project, it seemed, might finally take its place among the best scholarship of medieval history, but there was still more work to be done. Famous among historians for her book reviews, she once traveled all the way to Vienna to study the actual manuscripts used in the catalog she was assessing.With the help of her research assistant—a young scholar named Roger Wieck who was beginning to make a name for himself in the world of illuminated manuscripts—she pored through every resource she could find, looking at books, catalogs, and traveling the world to visit archives.Before even completing this inventory, they began to edit the collection.Once upon a time, Anne van Buren, a scholar of medieval art, received a grant “to support the completion of a book on costume dating in late medieval art, primarily French and Flemish, focusing on illuminated manuscripts, painted panels, and incunabula.” Using only art that was firmly dated or datable to within five years, she aimed to use the fashion portrayed in these artworks to create a timeline that could be used by scholars to date undated art.
The project focused on a tiny niche of the historical spectrum, but van Buren’s meticulous work had the potential to clarify a period that is quite muddy, creating a precise timeline to guide scholars in several disciplines.Even in casual conversation, remembers Wieck, “she always wanted to know how you reached a certain opinion, why you thought what you thought.” Naturally, her research methods were extremely thorough as well.