• Medieval Art''' is the art, including
Early Medieval Art in architecture, produced in Europe during
the Middle Ages i.e. from the fall of the
Europe western Roman Empire in
approximately 501 CE to the start of the
early modern period in approximately
• Although most medieval art and
architecture is religious, the Church
wasn’t the sole patron of art in the
medieval period. In fact much of the
religious art of the period was
commissioned by secular powers, and
some secular art survives throughout
• Medieval artists depended, in varying
degrees, upon artistic heritage of the
Roman Empire and upon the legacy of
the early Christian church. These
sources mixed with the vigorous
"Barbarian" artistic culture of Northern
Europe produced a remarkable legacy.
Indeed the history of medieval art can
be seen as the history of the interplay
between the elements of classical, early
Christian art and "Barbarian" art.
Irish manuscript illumination,
Early 8th Century
Celtic Germanic Art- The Migration Period-375-750 CE
As the Roman Empire disintegrated, Germanic tribes swept over
Western Europe bringing with them a metalwork art unlike that of the
Mediterranean cultures. In monasteries, particularly on the islands of
Iona and Lindisfarne off the coast of Britain, Celts embellished
manuscripts in an extraordinary intricate style.
The Goths of Scandinavia moved from the Baltic Sea southeast to the
Black Sea between 150-250 CE. In the 4th century, the Huns and the
Goths began to move westward. This set off a chain reaction along the
frontiers of the crumbling Roman Empire. Although the “barbarians”
were Christians , they did not share the cultural heritage of the
Christians of the Mediterranean and the Byzantine areas. The art of the
Migration Era is a combination of pagan and Christian elements.
During this period there was no wall painting done. Most of the painting
involved illuminating manuscripts which was created by monks living in
On the East coast of Scotland, Bishop Eadfirth created the Lindisfarne
Gospels (691-721CE) with interlaced patterns combined with strange
creatures and labyrinthine patterns.
The Book of Kells, from the island of Iona (Scotland) was completed in the
late 8th or early 9th centuries before the island was plundered by the Vikings
in 795 CE
Nothing monumental was created except for the rune stones and high
Superb metal work was done and an animal style evolved with imaginative
composite creatures, interlacing ribbons, patterns, stylized animals and
birds.The Sutton Hoo purse cover and the animal head from the Oseberg ship
are two examples.
Metalwork was the most innovative art form such as “Nomad Gear’ jewelry.
Religious objects were made of metal and decorated with enamel and gems.
Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway & Sweden)
were not part of the Roman Empire. They worshipped Odin, chief of the
Seafaring Scandinavians (Vikings) descended on Europe in the 8th
They Explored, plundered, traded, and colonized for nearly 300 years.
Their targets were isolated, but wealthy, Christian monasteries.
Danish King Harold Bluetooth brought Christianity to Scandinavia in the
middle of the 10th Century.
In Norway, Olaf Haraldsson, canonized Saint Olaf, converted his people
to Christianity in Rouen, France while on a Viking Expedition.
By the beginning of the 12th Century, Vikings would become the
Normans, one of the great peoples of Medieval Europe.
Viking art is associated with ships as well as with wood and the carving
• Archeological evidence provides the
first suggestions of women playing
an important role in Viking society.
Burial Ship from Oseberg, Norway.
C.800 CE • Women were often buried with
wool combs, needles, weaving
tablets, and weaving battens.
• In Hopperstad, Norway, the
majority of female graves from the
9th and 10th centuries contained
grave goods that were exclusively
male such as blacksmith's tools and
weapons. This evidence indicates
that these women had high standing
in the community and were perhaps
the sole managers of the larger
farms while their husbands were
away on expeditions.
• The serpent's head post found in the
Post, from the Oseberg burial ship recalls the Viking
Oseberg burial ship. poet's description of the Viking ship
C.825 CE as a "snake of the sea" referring no
doubt to its stealth, swiftness, and
deadliness. Due to deep under carving
that provides a contrasting
background to the linear designs, the
ornament covers the head of this post
like a lacy net.
• The artist divided the head into design
fields to receive specific styles of
decoration: a checkerboard grid of
squares ornamented with opposing
hatch marks covers the upper snout;
the Viking animal style, of which the
post pictured here is an excellent
example, is found in full flowering on
objects of the Oseberg ship burial.
Britain and Ireland
Roman armies ventured into Britain in 55-543 CE
Christianity flourished about 296 to about 370 and spread to Ireland, which was never under
Roman control - two changes to this area:
The Roman army abandoned Britain in 406 CE leaving a power vacuum.
Romanized British leaders took control of different areas, vying for dominance with the help of
Mercenary soldiers from the continent. (These mercenaries-Angles, Saxons, and Jutes- began to
By the seventh century, several large kingdoms emerged in Britain.
The arts made a brilliant recovery.
•Celtic, Roman, & Germanic cultures influenced metalworking.
•Monasteries began to appear in the late fifth century. Some in inaccessible
places, isolating the monks in them.
•Books were made by hand, one at a time.
•Medieval books were usually made by monks and nuns in a workshop called
a scriptorium, in monastery or convent.
•Work was divided between a scribe, and one or more artists.
Scribes and illustrators began to sign their work on a page called the colophon)
Books were scarce and most people were illiterate. They were guarded
treasures, mostly in libraries and scriptoria of monasteries or churches.
• Missing from the Sutton
Purse cover, from
Hoo purse cover is the
the Sutton Hoo burial fabric, perhaps leather,
ship. Suffolk - England linen, or woven which
C.615-30 CE would have served as a
backing for the
that are now displayed
attached to a white
• The base plate forms a
hem divided into cell
panels of alternating red
and blue enamel.
•The gold frame is set with garnets and blue checkered enamel forming
figures and rectilinear patterns. The upper ornaments consist of polygons
decorated with purely geometric patterns flanking four animals with
interlacing legs and jaws.
•Below, in the center Swedish hawks attack ducks. Flanking the birds are
images of men between two rampant beasts. The hawks are Swedish, the
interlacing animals Germanic, and the polychrome gem style Eastern
•Only the decorations on the purse are original, the white backing is
modern because the ivory or bone deteriorated long ago. The purse was
designed to hang at the waist and was found with 37 coins.
Both men and women of the Migration Age carried valuables in purses.
Tomb excavations reveal that purses were suspended from belts and
could be found worn over or under outerwear.
Page with Lion,
• The Book of Durrow (Durrow is a town
Book of John, Gospel Book of Durrow, in Ireland where the manuscript was
probably made at Iona, Scotland. kept during the late medieval period)
• This illuminated manuscript is of a
religious nature, in which the text is
supplemented by the addition of colorful
ornamentation, such as decorated initials
and borders. Motifs used in illumination
are frequently taken from heraldry or
• On this page the artist used an old
convention and represented John as a lion.
The drawing is very stylized and is based
on Scottish stone carvings rather than a
• Illumination was a complex and costly
process. It was usually reserved for
important books such as Bibles. The
wealthy commissioned the illuminated
"book of hours”.
Page with Man, Gospel of Saint Matthew, Gospel Book of Durrow, 7th
century. Ink and Tempera on Parchment.
• A colorful checkered pattern is
evident here and reminiscent of
the enamel patterning on the
Sutton Hoo purse cover.
• The hairstyle known as tonsure
was common in the early Celtic
• The figure is floating with
dangling feet against a neutral
background, which is
surrounded by a ribbon
• A Gospel Book is a codex or • Gospels are a genre of ancient
bound volume, containing one literature concerning the life of
or more of the four Gospels of Jesus. The word derives from
the Christian New Testament. the Old English word for "Good
In the Middle Ages the News", a translation of the
production of copies of the Greek word. This refers to the
entire Bible was rare. Individual 'good news' being told— that
books or collections of books Jesus has redeemed a fallen
were produced for specific world. Each of the books
purposes. Gospel Books were reveals, by telling the story of
produced for private study or Jesus Christ's life, the "Good
for ceremonial purposes. Many News" about Christ's life and
of these volumes were quite presence. The word gospel can
elaborate. Gospel books often also have a narrower meaning,
contained, in addition to the text especially when used by
of the Gospels themselves, evangelical Christians, to mean
supporting texts including the specific actions of Christ
Canon Tables, summaries, that are necessary for salvation.
glossaries, and other
Chi Rho Iota page, Book of Matthew, Book of
Kells, Late 8th or early 9th Century. • The full page ornamented folios of Celtic
Trinity College Library, Dublin-Tempera on manuscripts received the name "carpet pages"
Vellum because the intricacy of their designs reminded
Probably made in a monastery on the island of early scholars of the discipline of imported Persian
Iona and brought to Ireland. rugs. Chi (X) and Rho (R) are the first two letters of
the Greek word for Christ (Christos). The
enlargement and subsequent ornamentation of
initials and/or the first letters of the first word of the
incipit (first line of text) is a common practice in
Early Medieval manuscript illumination.
This particular design uses the naked
(unpainted) color of the parchment as a background.
Elements of the composition follow a free-form
organization with emphasis on organic rather than
rigid, geometric order. The proliferation of small
circular sub-fields of the composition serves as
testimony to the popularity of the use of the
compass as a drawing aid in the Early Middle Ages.
Many of the designs found on this folio echo the
decorative vocabulary of Migration Age metalwork:
filling the circular sub-fields are pinwheel designs
formed by spirals, petals and trumpets in warm
colors against darker backgrounds; plaques filled
with millefiore designs (multi-colored glass rods
fused and then sliced to form floral patterns);
animal and ribbon interlaced plaques; and patterns
of dots reminiscent of metal puncture designs and
stamp work. The appearance within the patterns of
small, childlike heads and faces attests to the era's
South Cross-Aheny,County .
Ireland- 8th century
• The high crosses of Ireland, erected between the eighth
and tenth centuries, are exceptional by their mass and
• Some of these monuments, are 17 feet or taller and
preside over burial grounds adjoining the ruins of
monasteries at sites throughout the Irish countryside.
• The Celtic cross has become the very symbol of Christian
Ireland in both religious and secular iconography.
• These crosses imitate the earlier wooden crosses which
were encased with a metal binding, the stone bosses
imitate the studs which would have covered the rivets
that held the metal and wooden crosses together.
• Both crosses are skillfully carved with intricate
geometrical Celtic designs. They are outlined with
gadroooning (ropelike convex molding) and covered with
interlacing spirals. The brooch like projections are called
bosses. They resemble jewels that were often placed on
• A circle (Celtic ring) encloses the arms of the cross and
has been interpreted as a halo or a glory(ring of heavenly
• The North Cross East pictured here stands at 3.13 metres
high, and has a shaped cap-stone
• The figure sculpture on both crosses appears only on the
base. Both crosses are made out of sandstone
Christian Spain • The Germanic group, the Visigoths
Church of Santa Maria, Quintanilla de la converted to Arian Christianity and
ViÑas, migrated across Gaul (France) into
Burgos, Spain. Late 7th Century. Spain and established themselves as the
aristocratic elite over the indigenous
• This basilica plan church was built in
the late 7th century 150 miles north of
Toledo in Burgos, Spain. Originally the
church had a nave, two aisles, and a
choir which was reserved for the
• This view is a view from the choir into
• The horseshoe arch frames the entrance
into the apse. The base of the arch juts
inward slightly. There are free standing
columns with impost blocks decorated
with a scene of Christ triumphant
between angels. The scrolling vine
motif carved on the arch is reminiscent
of designs featured on metalwork of the
• The Islamic conquest of Spain in 711
CE ended the rule of the Visigoths.
Emeterius and Ende, with the scribe The Mozarabs(from the Arabic mustarib, meaning
Senior. Page with Battle of the Bird and would-be Arab) were the Christians who followed
the Serpent, Commentary on the the Visigoths in Spain and who lived under Arab
Apocalypse by Beatus and Commentary domination. Following a period of persecution, the
on Daniel by Jerome, made for Abbot Mozarabs settled territory around the region of León.
Dominicus, • Mozarabic manuscript illumination is represented
primarily by texts on the Bible and commentary on
the Apocalypse by Beatus of Liébana (a Spanish
monk of the eighth century).
• The commentary is an analysis of the visions set
down in the Apocalypse or the Book of Revelation.
Beatus’s works justified Orthodox Christrian beliefs
and appealed to Christians who had struggled against
• A bird with a luxurious tail grabs a glittering snake-
a symbol of Christ triumphant over Satan.
• This type of symbolic story or allegory
was popular among artist, writers, and theologians in
the Middle ages.
• Mozarabic Beatus manuscripts feature bold,
predominantly primary colors and simple vignettes
reduced often to only a few dramatic figures
represented in an abstract, childlike style that focuses
on the emotional terror and grotesqueness of the
textual content. Here the triumph of Christ over
Satan is allegorically represented.
The Carolingian Period (Carouls is Latin for Charles)
750 CE - 900 CE
A new empire emerged, Charlemagne, or Charles the Great ruled in central Europe. ( The
Franks,were a Germanic people)
In 800 CE Pope Leo III granted Charlemagne emperor, and rightful successor to Constantine and
head of the Holy Roman Empire.
This event strengthened the bonds between the papacy and secular government in the West
Charlemagne began the recovery of the true text of the Bible, which, through centuries of
miscopying had become hopelessly corrupt.
Carolingian rehabilitation produced a clear, precise system of letters; the alphabet renovated by the
scribes of Tours.
Charlemagne encouraged the revival of Roman building techniques in architecture and turned to
Saint Peter’s, basilica-plan church as a model.
The Abbey Church of Saint Riquier in northern France was an example of the Carolingian
reworking of the Roman basilica-plan church. No longer standing, it is known today from
archeological evidence and an engraved copy of a lost eleventh-century drawing of the abbey
1.A multistory nathex or vestibule
2.Attached stair towers.
3.A triangular enclosure linking the church and two independent chapels. (a cloister (porticoed
courtyards) for 300 monks)
4. Entrances faced west, this type of narthex is called a westwork.
Charlemagne, went north, built a palace complex and installed his court in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle in French)
in 794. making it his capital. it included administrative offices, royal books, luxury items, and the “Palatine
Chapel”. This structure functioned as:
1.Charlemagne’s private chapel
2.The church of his imperial court
3.A martyrium for certain precious relics of saints
4.The emperor’s imperial mausoleum.
This is a central - plan building similar to San Vitale in Ravenna. The Aachen chapel has flat walls and
geometric forms. The division of the structure into parts and the vertical emphasis are both hallmarks of the new
style that developed under Charlemagne.
Books helped promote learning, propagate Christianity, and standardize church law and practice. Charlemagne
standardized the bible - Much of the artistic energy found in the empire’s scriptoria.
The revision served as the standard text of the Bible for the rest of the Carolingian and subsequent Medieval
Charlemagne, imported whole libraries; the illustrations astonished northern painters. There were many styles
including a realism that survived from the Late Antique period.
Ebbo (northeastern French town) was another center of bookmaking. “Portrait of Matthew” shows the unique
style. The figure vibrates with intensity and the landscape runs off the page, contained by the border. The style
focuses attention less on the physical appearance of the evangelist than on his inner, spiritual excitement as he
quickly transcribes the Word of God coming to him (Angel- Matthew’s symbol).
Illustrated manuscripts were protected with magnificent covers-(See Lindau Gospel outer cover)
Abbey Church of Saint Riquer, Monastery • Early Medieval after Effmann, 1912
Abbey Church of St. Riquier -
of Centula, France dedicated 799.
• Plan-consecrated c.799
• The visitor entered the church site of Centula's
complex via a monumental gateway that provided
access to a large atrium, similar to that at Old St.
Peter's, Rome. The atrium was punctuated by
groin-vaulted chapels supporting towers located at
the midpoints of the three free sides of the atrium's
covered walkway. The fourth side of the atrium
attached directly to St. Riquier's extraordinary
• The crypt of St. Riquier occupied the entire west
transept which was fully groin-vaulted to support
the weight of the upper structure. Located in both
the crypt and upper stories of the west transept
were altars dedicated to local saints. Sandwiched
in between the twin transepts was the nave which
consisted of a two-story elevation — a simple low
arcade, a long nave wall and tall clerestory
windows extending the entire height of the third-
story of the westwork. In the center of the nave
sat an altar. The east transept or choir was divided
spatially into three sections by tall diaphragm
arches and each was elevated on a low platform.
These consisted of the center choir located directly
under the eastern crossing tower, and the side
choirs located in the transept terminals and marked
by altars located on the eastern walls of the
transept. Elevated another step was the long
sanctuary which housed two small altars. Several
steps higher in the apse stood the high altar.
• Early Medieval-Artist Unknown-Palatine Chapel
of Charlemagne - Restored Plan-c.792-805
Reconstruction drawing of the Palace Aachen, Germany
Aachen was established as Charlemagne's
Chapel of Charlemagne, Aachen (Aix-la- capital in 794. Building of the palatine complex
Chapelle), Germany. 792-805 progressed from 792 to about 805. Scholars
believe that Aachen was the likely location of the
emperor's circle of educators, scholars and
intellectuals brought to aid in Charlemagne's
• Excavations of the site were carried out in the late
1960s revealing the cappella palatina (palace
chapel), the aula regia (royal or audience hall),
and numerous administrative buildings and living
The cappella palatina was a private chapel serving
Charlemagne and his family, in concept a cousin
of the Lateran palace in Rome. However, the
building itself models Justinian's San Vitale in
Ravenna from which it borrows numerous aspects
of plan, elevation, and according to court
biographer, Einhard, some columns and marble
slabs as well. Construction of the building was
commandeered by a Frankish native, architect
Odo of Metz and Charlemagne's friend and
biographer, Einhard. The chapel shares with San
Vitale an octagonal plan, ambulatory vaults
supported by walls on the exterior and eight piers
on the interior, a mosaic-covered wedge or
"pumpkin dome." Since two different liturgies
were practiced in the two buildings, liturgical
considerations affected the designs of the east
• Early Medieval-Artist Unknown-Palatine Chapel of
Charlemagne - Interior-c.792-805-Palatine Chapel of
Palatine Chapel of Charlemagne, Aachen, Germany
Charlemagne • Although it has been compared to San Vitale, the interior of
the Palatine Chapel is different in the relationship of its
architectural features to space. The elevation of the interior
corresponds to two stories: the ground or first story is
organized as a monumental arcade of eight broad, high
horseshoe-shaped arches alternating with the large piers
supporting the dome. The first level is separated from the
second by bold molding. In the second story or gallery
level, each bay comprises arcades (arches ) with tall,
slender columns. Elegant wrought-iron grillwork made by
the emperor's metalsmiths forms a lacy skirt shrouding the
bases and lower portions of the columns. The second story
is busy with linear, horizontal details that include the floral
capitals and impost blocks of the capitals. Bold molding on
each bay's flanking pier represents the springing point of
the triune arcades and another heavy molding serves both
as architrave of the arcade and foundation for the next
level. Perched on top of the second gallery in vertical
alignment with the columns of the tribune arcade are two
simple columns under a high arch similar to the
monumental arch of the first level of the elevation. These
columns, placed "piggyback" style over the gallery present
the visual illusion of a third level where none exists.
While the architectural screen does appear at San Vitale, its
use at Aachen is best understood within a context of other
Carolingian monuments where an attempt to maximize the
entrance of light into the space beneath is paramount.
Lastly, the polychromed voussoir of the arches in the
uppermost and lowest arches was a hallmark of imperial
architecture that was to inspire later imitators during the
• The clear division of the parts and the vertical emphasis are
both hallmarks of the new style that developed under
Palace of the Abbey of St. Gall - Near Lake Constance in Switzerland (redrawn).
C.817. Ink on parchment.
- Church is placed in the center. - Cloistered monks - Monastic community of 3000 people. - Carolingian church,
completely typical of the era. - There is 2 apses and an elaborate westwork. -Never came to light.
Page with Mark the Evangelist, • Early Medieval-Artist Unknown-Mark the Evangelist (from the
Godescalc Evangelistary)-c.781-83-Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris,
Book of Mark, Godescalc France, Ink & Colors on Vellum --
Evangelistary. 781-83. • The manuscript begins with a dedication page indicating that it
was made by the scribe Godelscalc at the request of Charlemagne
and his wife Hildegard. The Godescalc Evangelistary is a Gospel
Lectionary, not to be confused with a Gospel book. The Gospel
Lectionary contains sections from the Gospels (also called the
"Pericopes") that were read at Mass during corresponding times of
the liturgical year. The text of the manuscript attests to the great
expense involved in the book's production: gold and silver was
used to write the text and in the execution of the miniatures; in
addition, the parchment was dyed, a difficult and expensive
process often reserved for manuscripts destined for imperial use.
The decoration of the book consists of historiated letters (letters
incorporating vignettes), text enclosed by ornamental frames, four
Evangelist portraits, one of Christ, and an image of the Fountain of
The image of Mark shows him active at his lectern, writing at the
inspiration of the small lion (his symbol) who occupies the upper
left corner of the page. Representing the duality of the artist's
attitude to the modeling of form is the softly graduated flesh tones
of the figure which contrast sharply with the bold linear
articulation of facial features and the simplification of fabric
overlaying projecting forms of the body into opaque color fields
over which have been drawn "mapping lines" to indicate contours
of the body, division of clothing into segments, and volumes. In
addition to the modeling of the figure, Mark's bench and lectern
jut awkwardly out of the flat page in an attempt at three-
dimensional space. The style of the artist here certainly suggests
that he was familiar with the classical (Roman), Germanic, and
Byzantine influences that occurred in the cosmopolitan
atmosphere of the court.
Page With Saint Matthew The Evangelist, Coronation Gospels
Gospel of St.Matthew, Early 9th century
• This book gets its name from he fact
that it was used from the 11th century
onward at the coronation of the Holy
Roman emperors. The text is written in
gold and silver on parchment colored
with purple dye reserved for imperial
use in the east.
• St Matthew from the Coronation
Gospel is shown seated in profile before
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are neede d to see this picture. painting style, wearing flowing Roman
dress. A large golden halo disk
surrounds his head in what could also
pass for the sun about to set in the
distant landscape. The figure seems
relaxed and to be drawing from within
himself in recording holyword.
• The figure is very naturalistic and
clearly demonstrates a classical
• Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France
Page with Mathew the Evangelist, • Ink & Colors on Vellum-26cm x 22.2cm
Book of Matthew, Ebbo Gospels. • After Charlemagne's death, the center of manuscript production
C.816-40. moved from the court to Reims and the seat of Archbishop Ebbo
who was a childhood companion of the son of Charlemagne,
Louis the Pious. The manuscript begins with a dedication poem
in gold rustic capitals written by Peter, Abbot of the monastery
of Hautvilliers near Reims. He praises the achievements of
Archbishop Ebbo of Reims who may have been the patron and
donor of the book. The Gospel text was also written in gold, and
gold was employed generously in the execution of the
miniatures, all indications of the expense involved in the
production of this book. The decoration includes four Gospel
portraits and twelve ornate Canon Tables, featuring classicizing
tabernacles and whimsical genre scenes enacted on their roofs.
The Gospel pictures portray the authors seated on cushioned
benches and bent over the lecterns to write in their books.
Matthew holds his ink-filled horn in one hand and writes with
the other. Inspiring each author is his apocalyptic image. That
of Matthew peers out over the scene from the landscape.
• The hallmark of these miniatures is the haste employed in
executing the drawings manifested in a highly energized, hectic,
"sketch-like" style that, judging from its popularity among later
imitators, was attractive to Medieval artists and patrons. Thin,
overlapping washes of pastel color produce the transmutating
and occasionally muddy or puddling effects of colors
comprising the backgrounds of the miniatures. Over these
washes the artist sketched landscape using hatching lines and the
rapid, impressionistic technique found in the Coronation
Gospels. The "busy" quality of the fabrics in the miniatures was
produced by the same rapid sketch lines placed over a thinly
washed color field. Efforts to animate the faces, to present the
intensity of emotions and concentration of the authors at work
has few parallels in Early Medieval Art.
• The Utrecht Psalter is probably the most
The Utrecht Psalter. Second unusual Psalter of the Middle Ages. It was
quarter of the 9th century Ink written and painted between 820 and 840 in
the Benedictine abbey of Hautvillers near
on vellum or parchment Rheims, on the initiative of Ebbo, archbishop
of Rheims and foster brother to Emperor
Louis the Pious, the successor of
• All 150 psalms are illustrated with
magnificent pen drawings covering the whole
width of a page and densely populated with
tiny figures hurriedly sketched with a few
strokes. These painted figures are frequently
imbedded in faintly sketched landscapes. The
whole is a product of the Carolingian
Renaissance. Some believe that the Utrecht
Psalter was a production of a much earlier
period, perhaps fifth or sixth century in
origin. This was chiefly due to the fact that
many archaic conventions, which had by then
fallen out of use in manuscript production,
are preserved in the text. For example, the
Utrecht Psalter is written in rustic capitals, a
script no longer common to Carolingian
schools. Given the large script and size of the
manuscript it is conjectured that it was
intended as a choir book, used by several
monks chanting together from this common
• Early Medieval-Artist Unknown-Lindau Gospels Cover
(Upper Cover of Binding) c.870-880-Pierpont
Crucifixion with Angels and Mourning Morgan Library, New York-Gold & Jewels-36.9cm x
Figures, outer cover, 26.7cm
• Ordinarily, Early Medieval manuscript covers consisted
Lindau Gospels. C.870-80. of wooden boards hinged by cords made of leather. A
manuscript destined for a more discerning consumer
might have a stamped leather cover. The most
sumptuous book covers of the Early Middle Ages were
those sporting precious metals, gems, and enamels
attached to the wooden boards often by means of simple
clamps, bolts, pegs or rivets. The Lindau covers are
representative of the more sumptuous decoration of a
The upper cover features five gold repoussé (embossed)
plaques hemmed by wide, cabochon-encrusted (stone
attached to a base by means of a metal collar) borders.
In four of these plaques, pairs of angels float above and
below bouquets composed of pearls, gems and crystals,
while the central panel contains an organically
proportionate Christus triumphans (Christ as living, as
triumphant over death) with softly modeled contours
and volumes. The figure of Christ assumes the standard
position beneath his titulus (inscription) and weeping
angels. The back cover represents a completely different
style, one more closely related to Frankish native trends
found in Migration Art rather than Carolingian
classicism: human form abstracted into pattern with
intricate ribbon and zoomorphic interlace. The two
differing styles on the cover indicate an appreciation for
both at Charlemagne's court, a notion that accords well
with the often international influences found elsewhere
in Carolingian Art.
• One of the most important and telling
burials of a woman is the Oseburg ship
burial from the early ninth century. This
burial, located in southeastern Norway,
shows the pinnacle of status that
women could reach within the Viking
society. It is one of the most elaborate
burials ever recovered and could only
be meant for a queen. The burial
chamber is an elaborately carved oak
ship that measures 21.6 meters long and
5 meters wide. There were two women
in the ship, one of whom was probably
a slave sacrificed to accompany her
mistress into the afterlife. The ship was
outfitted with all the essentials for the
trip to the afterlife: beds, chairs, lamps,
cooking implements, food, looms, and
weaving tools. One of the greatest
indications of her rank was the sacrifice
of twelve horses. Horses were
sacrificed only for those of great status
or for very important religious
ceremonies. Therefore, the sacrifice of
twelve horses at the burial of a woman
indicates her high societal status.
Borgund stave Church, Sogn, Norway 1125-1150
• Built between 1125-1150 and
dedicated to the Apostle Andrew, this
church is exceptionally well
preserved and is one of the most
distinctive stave churches in Norway.
Some of the finest features are the
lavishly carved portals and the roof
carvings of dragons's heads. The
stave churches are Norway's most
important contribution to world
architecture and Norway's oldest
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• Boat construction and home building
in the Viking times had developed
the technique and tradition of
combining art with wood working.
This culminated in the stave
churches. There are several types of
stave churches but the common
element to all of them is that they
have corner-posts (staves) and a
skeleton or framework of timber with
wall planks standing on sills. These
walls are known as stave walls, hence
• Early Medieval-Artist Unknown-Urnes
Doorway panels, Parish Church, Style Portal-.11th Stave Church, Urnes,
Urnes, Norway. C.1050-70. Norway
• Although missionary activity had been
underway with great seriousness in the
tenth century, church building was slower
to develop. Many were built of wood
rather than stone and the latter follow
trends in Romanesque architecture rather
than reflecting native stylistic preferences.
The earliest remains of churches built for
and decorated in Scandinavian style are
these decorated wooden panels from an
eleventh century farm church in Norway.
• The Urnes master decorated the church
portal with undulating, interlaced animal
motifs. An essential part of Urnes style is
thin, rope-like, almost lacy interlaced
designs composed of animal legs and
ribbons. Three signature Urnes-style
motifs appear on the portal: four
greyhound-like animals; a serpent-like
animal with a single foreleg; and, thin
ribbon-like snakes with animal heads.
The Ottonian Period
936 CE - 1002 CE
The Carolingian Empire was divided among the heirs of Louis the Pious. In the tenth century, the
eastern portion (modern Germany and Austria), passed to a dynasty of Saxon rulersknown as
Rulers - Otto I (Ruled 936- 973) Otto II (Ruled 973-983), and Otto III (Ruled 983-1002).
Otto I, took control of Italy in 951, was crowned emperor by the pope in 962, - he and his successors
dominated the papacy appointments to other high Church offices. The Church, which had become
corrupt and disorganized, recovered in the tenth century under the influence of a great monastic
reform encouraged and sanctioned by the Ottonians.
Ottonian architects followed their predecessors. St. Michael’s, church at Hildesheim built between
1001 and 103 1, retains the tower groupings and westwork of St.-Riquier, as well as its, blank walls.
The interior shows the rhythm of the alternating light and heavy wall supports.see page 465) Although
its proportions have changed (it has become taller in relation to its width than a Roman basilica), the
nave has the continuous and unbroken look of its Early Christian predecessors.
The eleventh century - Ottonian artists in northern Europe, drawing on Roman, Byzantine, and
Carolingian models, created a new tradition of large sculpture in wood and bronze that would have an
influence on later medieval art.
An important patron- Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim made bronze doors for (his Abbey Church)
They stand more than 16 feet and have Old Testament scenes on the left and New Testament scenes on
The doors’ rectangular panels recall the Miniatures in Carolingian books. Small, extremely active
figures populate nearly empty backgrounds.
Architectural elements and features of the landscape are depicted in very low relief, forming little
more than a shadowy stage for the actors in each scene.
The figures stand out prominently, sculpted in varying degrees of relief, with their
heads fully modeled in three dimensions, The result is lively and visually stimulating.
Variation in style and approach is characteristic in the Ottonian period.
Artists worked for different patrons in widely scattered centers.
In the Ottonian gospel books the draperies are rendered in a hard, firm line and the
planes partitioned in sharp heavily modeled shapes.These features were in Middle and
Late Byzantine art, and a connection existed between the Ottonian and Byzantine
Yet, the Ottonian artists went their own way; Ottonian painting was produced for -
The court - The great monasteries - Learned princes - Abbots and abbesses - Bishops
and appealed to an aristocratic audience that could appreciate independent and
sophisticated variations on inherited themes. This new manner would be passed on to
artists of the Romanesque period.
The Gospel Book of Otto III,shows the Emperor The emperor is represented
enthroned, which represents his universal authority- it is a work of imperial
propaganda much like the ancient Gemma Augusta from Rome.
• Early Medieval-Artist Unknown-Church of Saint
Church of Saint Cyriakus, Gernrode, Cyriakus begun c.960; consecrated c.973-Gernrode,
Germany. Begun 961 and Germany
consecrated 973. • St. Cyriakus was founded in 961 by a German noble
named Gero who intended it as a convent. Originally,
the church had a flat wall at the west end flanked by two
towers with spiral staircases at the ends of the side
aisles. The exterior decoration of St. Cyriakus is among
the best surviving representations of the exterior
articulation of the Ottonian church.
Exterior ornamentation strives to interrupt the plain,
mural like aspect of the stonework by creating
geometric linear patterns that provide texture and
momentum by focusing the viewer's attention on
architectural sections. The towers accomplish their
visual objective with bold molding separating the tower
into increasingly smaller drum sections, and with low
relief patterns of pilaster stripping with dog tooth rather
than arcuated blind arcading. The lowest section of the
towers sports limited pilasters perhaps conceived
originally as buttresses. Their overall effect is to give
the section the appearance of polygonal form. The upper
clerestory windows of the towers, the west end and the
east transept feature arcades with double openings
supported by a slender central column, all recessed
underneath a larger arch. Such articulated recesses also
provided textural interest to the wall.
• Early Medieval-Artist Unknown-Church of
Saint Cyriakus - Plan begun
c.960; consecrated c.973-Gernrode,
Nave, Church of Saint Cyriakus. • Extending from the nave at St. Cyriakus is
the east transept, appearing out of alignment
with the nave. The tall west end flanked by
spiral staircase towers held an elevated choir
on the interior supported by a groin-vaulted
crypt. Entrance to the church was located on
the south side, as at St. Michael's,
Hildesheim, into a bay whose elevation
differed from the rest of the nave. It featured
a single, broad archway into the side aisle, a
double arched opening in the gallery, and a
small, high set of two clerestory windows.
The nave elevation is two stories with three
levels, a nave arcade and a gallery, and a
clerestory. The nave consisted of a short
arcade of two large bays alternating one pier
with one column. The gallery opened from
the nave via two sets of triple arcades
divided by one pier aligned with the central
pier of the nave arcade. A high clerestory
reached its apex at the church's roofline
meeting the tie beams of the wooden roof.
The east end of the church comprises a choir
composed of the transept divided into choirs
each with its own crypt and apse on the east
end. A crypt extended under the elevated
sanctuary and apse as well. Diaphragm
arches mark the intersection of the nave and
Bishop Bernward Doors, Bronze Cathedral (Abbey
Church of Saint Micheal), Hildesheim, Germany.
• The technique of casting bronze doors was reintroduced as a major
art form at Aachen during the Carolingian period, where
monumental plain paneled doors with lion's head knockers were
placed at the entrance to the Palatine Chapel. Large-scale bronzes
such as the doors and column at Hildesheim were cast in special
• The interest in bronze doors and the means and expertise to create
them continued into the Ottonian period. Bernward's friend,
Willigis, had executed bronze doors complete with lion's head
knockers in imitation of Charlemagne's for the Cathedral at Mainz.
The next step, adorning bronze doors with scenes in low relief, has
an Ottonian precedent at Augsburg. The attempts of Bernward's
craftsmen to employ low and high relief on bronze doors is
unparalleled for the period. So fervent was their intent that some
figures bend out of the relief wall from the waist, a bizarre
situation for high relief but nevertheless one that demonstrates the
intent of the artist to experiment with a different dimension of
relief work. The doors feature Genesis scenes: Creation of
Adam; the Presentation of Eve; Temptation and Fall of Adam;
the Judgment of Adam and Eve; the Expulsion of Adam and
Eve from Paradise; Life outside Eden; Offerings of Cain and
Abel; and, Murder of Abel and the Judgment of Cain. The
Atonement reliefs are the Annunciation; Nativity; Magi;
Presentation; Christ before Pilate; Crucifixion; Women at the
Tomb; and Ascension.
(scenes of the Fall of Man and his redemption)
• Scenes from the old
Testament prefigured the
The Temptation, detail of New and the scenes were
the Doors of Bishop Bernward. paired to make the
• Depicted in this panel,
(which is the third panel
down on the left) is the
temptation of Adam and
Eve in the Garden of Eden.
• It is possible that the
compositions for these
panels were derived from
with the stylized vegetation
and the twisting and turning
movement in both the plant
forms and the figures.
• To the right of the
Temptation panel is this
The Crucifixion, detail of Crucifixion scene.
the Doors of Bishop Bernward.
• The death of Jesus on
the cross is a reminder
to mankind of his
sacrifice to atone for the
sins of mankind brought
on by the original sin of
Adam and Eve.
• The large wooden crucifix is the earliest known surviving
Gero Crucifix, Wood - Cologne piece of Ottonian monumental sculpture. Its execution in
the strong (though easily destroyed) medium of wood is a
Cathedral, Germany. C.970. reminder of the medieval preference for this material for the
production of altar statuary. The work was commissioned by
Archbishop Gero of Cologne (969-71) for the spot it
occupies. Ottonian artists had established certain traditions
for the rendering of the body of Christ on the cross. A
preference existed for the Christus mortus (dead Christ)
rather than Christus triumphans (Christ alive and triumphant
over death). The type indicates that Ottonians regarded the
altar cross as a reminder of Christ's sacrifice and an
empathic stimulus for meditation on grief, resignation,
and sorrow rather than as a celebration.
• For the artist, the type allows for more creative possibilities
than the more upright triumphans corpus type: the dead
corpus appears to swing downward and outward in the
viewer's direction, a posture that contrasts boldly with the
rigid linearity of the form of the cross itself. Ottonian artists
show the dead body of Christ as reacting both to the effects
of gravity and also suspended by the nails (heavy, hanging
head; the stretched sinews of the muscles of the arms and
pectoral region) and the forensic indications of death (limp
fingers and hand hanging off the nails; the sagging flesh of
the breasts; the bloated belly).
• More expressive than naturalistic is the face of the corpus, a
death mask created by exaggerated pulls downward of the
flesh under the eyes, along the nose and jowls and the
corners of the mouth.
• The Gero artist chose to model the body of Christ with little
attention to linearity: projecting regions are clearly carved
and firm lines defining musculature and bony regions have
been softened. Abstraction was relegated to the wig-like
portrayal of the hair and the flatly folded and starchy fabric
of the loincloth.
• The scene of Christ washing the feet of St.
Page with Christ Washing the Peter contains notable echoes of ancient
Feet of His Disciples, Gospels painting, transmitted through Byzantine
of Otto III. C.1000. art: the soft pastel hues of the background
recall the illusionism of Greco-Roman
landscapes, and the architectural frame
around Christ is a late descendant of the
architectural perspectives from Boscoreale.
• The Ottonian artist has put these classical
ideas to new use, so that what was once an
architectural vista, now becomes a
• In ancient compositions this would have
represented a doctor treating a patient.
Now St.. Peter takes the place of the
sufferer, and Christ that of the physician.
(Note that Christ is depicted here as the
beardless young philosopher type)
• Christ and Peter the most active figures are
larger than the rest. Christ’s active arm is
longer than the arm at his side. The
emphasis here is on spiritual action.