Art History 201: Ancient and Medieval Art (Fall 2013) Prof. Thomas Dale

FINAL EXAM: Sunday December 15th, 2:45PM - 4:45PM

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FINAL EXAM: Sunday December 15th, 2:45PM - 4:45PM

Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160



The sections are designed both to provide an opportunity for questioning and reviewing material presented in class and for providing a chance for more in-depth discussion of topics related to the lectures. For most sections, you will be asked to prepare in advance a short response (about 1 page) to discussion questions presented below. You will not be graded on the response but you may be asked to hand it in to your TA for review.

SECTION 1: Why Art History Matters (Sept. 3-6)

Optional Background Reading:

Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, 1-13.

Choose any work of Ancient and medieval art on display in the Chazen Museum (Gallery 1) or on the museum’s website ( Describe the work as fully as possible. As a general rule you will find it helpful to begin with general aspects of composition and then move to more specific observations. Why are you drawn to this work and why do you think it deserves to be described as art? If you were to play the role of art historian, what questions would you want to answer? What does it say about the importance of art in society?


Irene Winter, “The Eyes Have it: Votive Statuary, Gilgamesh’s Axe, and Cathected Viewing in the Ancient Near East” in Reader


Votive statues from the Square Temple, Eshnunna, gypsum inlaid with shell, limestone and bitumen,

ca. 2700 BCE (p. 16 & G2-5)

Head of Ruler (Sargon I?) from Nineveh, copper, ca. 2250-2200 BCE (G2-12)

Stela with Code of Hammurabi, basalt, ca. 1792-1750 BCE

Compare: Statue of Khafre, from Giza, diorite, ca. 2520-2494 BCE (G3-12)

Statue of Menkaure and his Queen, graywacke, ca. 2490-2472 BCE (G 3-13)
What are your initial impressions of the ancient Mesopotamian sculptures of the human figure we have looked at in class? To what extent do you think they can be described as portraits? How do they compare in style and function to ancient Egyptian statuary?
“Visuality” is a concept that suggests that “seeing” is culturally and historically determined—that is, different cultures understand visual experience in distinctive ways. How does Irene Winter reconstruct the experience of ancient Mesopotamian viewers of votive statuary? What specific aspects of Mesopotamian sculpture seem to be explained by the literary texts Winter cites? How do the compositions such as the Stele of Hammurabi suggest the desired impact of viewing the deity or the beloved in concrete form?
Assignment 1: Looking at Greek Vases: Form, Content and Function
Rough Draft Due by e-mail by Section 4 (Sept. 24-27)

Final Revised Version Due in hard copy: Section 6 (Oct. 8-11)
Length: 2 to 2 1/2 pages, double-spaced at Font size 12 (Times New Roman)

Include printout of and drawings in final version. Give page and illustration references from Gardner in brackets: e.g. (Gardner, p. 40, fig. 2).

Background Readings: Gardner, I, ch. 5.

1. 1983.6: Chuisi Painter (attributed to), Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora, showing Herakles fighting Apollo for the Delphic Tripod; Herakles fighting Triton, 520-500 BCE

Compare with:

2. 1970.2: Timokrates Painter (attributed): Attic White-ground Lekythos with Women carrying funerary gifts to the cemetery, 460 BCE


3. 1985.99 Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora, Goltyr Painter, showing Greeks fighting Amazons, roosters and panthers; panther and ram; Komast warrior between swans and sphinxes, 564-550 BCE

Between the 8th and 4th centuries BCE, the potters and painters of the city states in ancient Greece transformed utilitarian ceramic vessels into highly sophisticated works of art with varying shapes, sizes and decoration responding to different functions and changing tastes. In this assignment you are asked to compare and contrast two examples of Greek vase painting in the Chazen Museum’s collection listed above. The purposes of the assignment are 1) to practice describing an object and its decoration systematically; 2) to articulate the features of style and technique, as well as stylistic contrast/change in Greek vase painting 3) to consider the changing ways in which the content or subject matter and form of the work respond to distinctive functions of Greek vase painting; 4) apply what you are learning in class specific examples in the museum.
You should begin by visiting the museum and making a sketch of the vase, using this as a way of looking carefully and trying to characterize the distinctive shape and decoration. Then jot down some points that articulate what you are looking at, including vase shape, location and relative scale of imagery, the composition or arrangement of figures on the surface of the vessel, specific techniques of representing the anatomy and the relationship of figure to the space around it. Then think about the function of the vessel and how its shape and decoration fulfill its intended function. Before starting to write, think about how these examples relate to examples studied in class or discussed in the textbook. Then make an outline of the points you want to make.
In writing the paper, begin with an introductory paragraph clearly stating the theme of your paper and indicating where you are headed. Then describe one of the two examples in some detail moving from a general description of shape and disposition of decoration and the composition of figures within the image, then move to more specific observations about figure style, anatomy, and technique of representation. Consider how it characterizes a specific period style of Greek vase painting by comparing it to other works you have studied in class. Then discuss the second example drawing contrasts with the first. Then turn to the meaning/function of the work, its shape and subject matter, again considering how each example is representative of its own particular context of production. Finally summarize your conclusions in two or three sentences.
SECTION 3. Ancient Egyptian and Greek Art in the Chazen Museum (Sept 17-20)

In preparation for this section, please review your notes from class on Greek Vase painting and go up to Gallery 1 on your own to survey the different painting styles, vase shapes, techniques and subjects.

Come prepared to discuss what distinguishes Red-Figure and Black-Figure techniques, and how size and shape are related to the function the vessel served.
SECTION 4: Defining the Classical Ideal (Sept. 24-27)

***Assignment I Draft Due ***

Reading: Thucydides, Funeral Oration of Pericles, excerpt from his History of the Peloponnesian War, 5th century BCE, in Reader

Hallett, "The Origins of the Classical Style in Sculpture" in Reader

Review: The Orders of Classical architecture; reading architectural plans and elevations

Viewing: Polykleitos, Canon/ Doryphorus (G5-38); Geometric Kouros (G 5-8);

Parthenon sculpture (G5-46-48)


What are the distinctive features of the classical representation of the human figure? How does the classical canon of Greek art differ from that of Egyptian or Archaic Greek Art? What are the standard explanations for the classical ideal in Greek art and what are their shortcomings according to Hallet? What is Hallet’s alternative theory and what kind of “evidence” does he use to buttress his argument; do you find it convincing? How might the same concepts of the classical ideal be applied to architecture? What does this article reveal about the nature of art historical explanation of the history of style and how does this form of explanation compare with scientific or other forms of explanatory theories you are aware of.

Thucydides records the moving funerary oration given in honor of the Athenians who died in the Peloponnesian war by Pericles, the builder of the temples of the acropolis. What values does Pericles praise in Athenians and how might they be related to classical art and architecture?
SECTION 5: The Female Nude in Greek Art (Oct. 1-4)

1. Roman Reactions to the Aphrodite of Knidos

2. Excerpt from Sir Kenneth Clark, The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form in Reader

3. Nanette Salomon, “The Venus Pudica: Uncovering art history's ‘hidden agendas’ and pernicious pedigrees” in Reader


The Aphrodite of Knidos is often hailed as the “classic” female nude, the model of feminine beauty in the Western tradition. Read the Roman sources in the Reader. What do they tell us about its original setting and its impression on ancient viewers? How does your own reaction differ from the Roman response? How would you describe the figure, its formal modeling, its pose and gestures? What features and aesthetic values distinguish this figure as “nude” rather than naked, according to Clark? Why was the female nude relatively rare in Greek art prior to Praxiteles? What distinguishes the female nude from the male nude in Greek art--­e.g. Polykleitos, Canon; or the Hermes and Dionysos by a follower of Praxiteles?

How does Salomon's account of the nude differ from Clark's? What different ideological or social meanings were attached to the male and female nude in Greek culture, according to Salomon? How did the perception of nudity change in the Middle Ages? Why does Salomon criticize traditional interpretations of the female nude, such as that of Sir Kenneth Clark? What is her own, particular scholarly agenda?


SECTION 6: Roman Portraiture (Oct. 8-11)

***Assignment I, revised text on Greek Vase Painting due ***
Reading: Sheldon Nodelman, “How to read a Roman Portrait” in Reader

How does Nodelman define portraiture? What does he mean by signs or “conventional features”? What new concept of the portrait did the Romans invent? How does Nodelman suggest one has to interpret conventions of realistic portraiture? How does Roman portraiture engage the spectator? How does it change in late antiquity and what historical explanations does the author offer?

Bring in a photograph of a friend, family member or public figure. To what extent does your photograph function in the same way as a Roman portrait? How do our expectations of portraiture compare with those of the Roman viewer?
SECTION 7: Roman to Early Medieval Art in the Chazen Museum, Gallery 1 (Oct. 15-18)
***Midterm (lectures 1-13), Oct. 17, no readings this week***
SECTION 8: Early Christian Iconography (Oct. 22-25)

1. Matthew 21:1-12 (The Entry into Jerusalem), in Reader

2. Thomas Mathews, “The Chariot and the Donkey” The Clash of the Gods, in Reader

Iconography (which translates literally from the Greek as “image-writing”) is the system of pictorial signs--including attributes, costumes, gestures, facial types, groupings of figures--which convey the meaning of individual figures or stories in art. You are asked to read the biblical story of Christ's Entry into Jerusalem and then analyze how the text is translated into pictures in two different examples shown on the web site: 1. Sarcophagus with Entry into Jerusalem and Miracle Scenes (Rome, Museo Nazionale delle Terme) 325 A.D.; 2. Rossano Gospels (Rossano Cathedral), 6th century A.D. How does each example indicate the essence of the narrative action? How is setting indicated? How is the principal figure of Christ emphasized visually? What significant changes are made by the later artist?

It has long been recognized that Early Christian iconography draws much of its pictorial vocabulary from pagan Roman art. Indeed, artists of all periods frequently make use of earlier pictorial models without necessarily reinterpreting the textual model. What are the probable pictorial sources for the Entry into Jerusalem and why might they have been borrowed by the Early Christian artists? Why does Thomas Mathews question conventional wisdom about Early Christian art's debt to the imperial Roman past?
Assignment 2: Russian Icons (Due in section 12–Nov. 19-22)
Background Reading: See Matthews (section 9 Reading) and Gardner, ch. 9, esp. 268-69; 279-80.
The Chazen Museum has a large collection of Russian icons from the Post-Byzantine (post-1453) period. You are asked to compare and contrast two icons, on view in the Object Study Room in the new wing of the Chazen, 2nd floor. (Basic information and photographs of all the icons can be accessed at or by clicking on the Explore Art tab, Paintings, and Icons at
1) 1992.26a-b Saint Nicholas Thaumaturge ("The Wonderworker") (

2) 37.1.21Saint Sergei of Radonezh, after Dmitri Korin, Palekh, Russia, ca. 1900


You are asked to compare and contrast the two icons and show how each relates to Byzantine icons studied in class in terms of its functions, format, composition, style and iconography, and how it represents significant departures that might be ascribed to the later history of icons in Russia and elsewhere after the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

You should start by describing the icon’s format, subject matter, composition (groupings of figures within the picture field and representational space) and figure style, moving from the general to the specific. Consider how the figures in the icon relate to the viewer through gesture and glance, and how they are situated within space. Then you should draw upon on the Section 9 reading by Tom Mathews and the textbook to place these works in broader artistic and religious/functional contexts. For stylistic or iconographic comparisons, you should look at later examples of Russian icons available on the web. Useful websites include: (British Museum, London) (State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg) (Holy Russia: Russian Art from the Beginnings to Peter the Great, Louvre Museum, Paris) (Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA) (Rollins University) (State Russian Museum, Saint-Petersburg) (State Tretyakov Museum, Moscow)

SECTION 9: The Byzantine Icon (Oct. 29-Nov. 1)

Meet in Chazen Museum of Art, Object Study Room (New Wing, 2nd Floor)
Background Reading: excerpt from Thomas Mathews, Byzantine Art in Reader
The icon or "holy image" is the quintessential Byzantine art form. What are the essential formal features of early Byzantine icons and how do they establish a tangible presence for the viewer? To what extent do icons represent the adaptation of previous pagan cult images both in form and practice? What is iconoclasm and what were its causes? How did Byzantine writers justify the making of images of God and the saints in the face of iconoclasm? How did the icon change after iconoclasm?
SECTION 10: Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts, held in Kohler Library (Nov. 5-8)

Background Reading: Robert Calkins, “The Illuminated Word,” in Reader

The illuminated manuscript (a book, “written by hand”) occupies a central position in mediaeval culture as means of disseminating the text of scripture, as well as ecclesiastic ritual, sacred and profane literature and history. In this class you will learn how manuscripts were made and look at different types of text illustration in facsimiles in the Art History Library.
In preparation for this class you should review examples of manuscript illumination seen in class and think about how they are put together, how images are related to text in different ways, how even ornamental decoration can be meaningful in conveying the significance of a given text or its function. Think also about the different functions and users of medieval books and how that impacts their decoration.
SECTION 11: Relics, Reliquaries and Medieval Portraiture (Nov. 12-15)

1. Bernard of Angers, Book of Miracles of Sainte-Foy in Reader

2. Ellert Dahl, “Heavenly Images: The statue of Sainte Foy of Conques and the signification of the Medieval ‘Cult-Image’ in the West” in Reader

The reliquary of Sainte-Foy in Conques is amongst the earliest extant examples of figural sculpture in the round since late antiquity. Why does the medieval writer, Bernard of Angers find the reliquary of Sainte Foy and similar statues disturbing? Why does he eventually change his mind? What is the relationship between the saint and its image? To what extent do this sculpture and similar statues of Saint Baudime and Saint Césaire represent a revival of “pagan” cult statues from antiquity in form and function? What is the relationship between relic and reliquary? To what extent are these images portraits? What is the significance of the material?

SECTION 12: DOME OF THE ROCK and MEANING IN ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE (Nov. 19-22) ***Assignment 2 on Russian Icons due***

“Dome of the Rock Inscriptions,” in Islamic Art and Visual Culture. An Anthology of Sources, ed. D. Fairchild Ruggles (Oxford: Blackwell, 2011), pp. 99-101

Oleg Grabar, “The Meaning of the Dome of the Rock,” In Jerusalem, volume IV: Constructing the Study of Islamic Art. (Aldershot UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005). 143-158
The Dome of the Rock is often described as the most significant and earliest work of a distinctively Islamic architecture. What are its main architectural features? How and why is its architecture different from early congregational mosques such as the Great Mosque of Damascus or the Great Mosque of Cordoba?
What do the inscriptions of the Dome of the Rock interior tell us about the significance of the site on which it is built, and the relationship between Islam, Christianity and Judaism? How do the forms of architecture (plan, elevation, spatial organization) and its mosaic decoration suggest a relationship with other polities and religious faiths in Jerusalem and the Eastern Mediterranean, and what ideological messages might be conveyed? How does Grabar challenged standard interpretations of the Dome of the Rock, how does he suggest the significance attached to the Dome of the Rock shifted over time? Why is his re-dating of the building significant for its original meaning? How does the form of decoration establish a relationship with the Ka’ba in Mecca and why is this important? How do the political and religious struggles of the Crusades (13th-15th centuries) still color current perceptions of the Dome of the Rock?

***Optional Assignment 3: Private Devotion in Gothic Art (Due Dec. 12th in lecture)
Object in Chazen Museum of Art, Gallery 1 (case to right of entrance from main staircase)

Gothic ivory diptych from Paris, ca. 1325-50, representing the Presentation in the Temple; Nativity; Crucifixion and Adoration of the Magi

French Gothic ivories such as the diptych on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art on view in Gallery 1 of the Chazen offer a glimpse into the growing market for luxury objects used for private religious devotion among the laity. You are asked to describe briefly the four narrative scenes of the diptych and then comment how their iconography (subject matter) figure style, medium and format of the object foster an intimate and emotional connection between the viewer/user and the body of Christ within each narrative. Drawing comparisons with material discussed in lectures 25-27 (Gardner, chapter 13), explain how this object is typical of late Gothic art for the laity.
****THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY*** (Nov. 28-Dec.1)
SECTION 13: Monsters, Fantasy and Orality in Romanesque Art (Dec. 3-6)
Looking: Capitals from St-Michel-de-Cuxa on website; Romanesque Capital on loan from Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Gallery 1

1. Bernard of Clairvaux, Apologia to William of Saint-Thierry in Gardner, I, ch. 12, 342 (box).

2. Michael Camille, “Mouths and Meanings: Towards an Anti-Iconography of Medieval Art” in Reader


Monsters take their name from the Latin verb “monstro/monstrare”-to show or demonstrate. Bernard of Clairvaux, the outspoken leader of the Cistercian Order, provides a particularly valuable reaction to the kinds of monsters found so frequently in Romanesque cloister sculpture such as the examples from Cuxa seen in class. What examples does Bernard mention and why does he find them so objectionable? How does his own prose highlight the very “contradictory forms” of the monsters themselves?
What explanations does Michael Camille offer for the presence of monsters in Romanesque art? How does his approach differ from conventional iconographic approaches? How does he justify his approach in terms of the nature of the subject matter? What kinds of sources does he use to buttress his argument for the essential “orality” of monstrous imagery? Why does he ultimately conclude that the monstrous and bestial images of the Souillac trumeau represent an “anti-iconography”?
SECTION 14: Medieval Art in the Chazen (Dec. 10-13)

***Optional Assignment 3 on Private Devotion in Gothic Art due Dec. 12 at lecture ***

Sunday December 15th, 2:45PM - 4:45PM

Conrad A. Elvehjem Building, L160

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