Chapter 11: Early Medieval Europe



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Chapter 11: Early Medieval Europe
Preview: This chapter surveys the art of Europe in the period between 410, the Fall of Rome, and 1024, the conclusion of the Ottonion period. The art of the medieval period is the result of a mix of three primary cultural influences: the classical traditions of Rome’s northern provinces, the practices of non-Roman people in central and northern Europe, and Christianity. From the 5th to the middle of the 8th century—the period of the “warrior lords”—surviving artworks are primarily portable objects such as weapons and items of personal adornment that reflect the decorative traditions of non-Roman groups such as the Huns, Merovingians, Franks, Goths, and Vikings. Between the 7th and 11th centuries most of Europe became Christianized, but the decorative abstract patterns and intertwining animal forms established in pre-Christian times continue to appear in art throughout the Early Middle Ages. This is particularly the case with Hiberno-Saxon artists in Ireland and Britain, who produced elaborately decorated Christian illuminated manuscripts in the 7th and 8th centuries. In the Carolingian period (768-877) in central Europe, artists developed unique styles of manuscript illumination and established the twin-tower westwork of church architecture. 10th century Ottonion artists revived the art of monumental sculpture and produced small-scale works exhibiting clear Byzantine influence, while architects introduced the alternate-support system and galleries to the naves of basilicas.

Key Sites: Sutton Hoo, Oseberg, Aachen, Saint Gall, Hildesheim

Key Figures: Charlemagne, Ottonion emperors, Bishop Bernward

Key Cultural & Religious Terms: Hiberno-Saxon, Vulgate, Evangelist

Key Art Terms: tumulus, figula, cloisonné, carpet pages, vellum, canon tables, Caroline miniscule, repoussé, reliquary

Types of Medieval Books: Pentateuch, Psalter, lectionary, breviary, sacramentary, benedictional, Book of Hours, passional, gospels

Key Architectural Terms: staves, monastery, scriptoria, cloister, module, crossing square, westwork, castellum, turris, alternate-support system


Lecture Notes:
Introductory Notes:

Art of the Warrior Lords: Dates _____________



  • Pair of Merovingian looped figulae, from Jouy-le-Comte, France, mid-sixth century

    • Materials:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:




  • Purse cover, from the Sutton Hoo ship burial in Suffolk, England, ca. 625

    • Materials:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Belt buckle, Sutton Hoo, ca. 625

    • Materials & stylistic features:

  • Viking ship burial, Oseberg, ca. 815-820

    • Description & significance:

  • Animal-head post, from the Viking ship burial, Oseberg, Norway, ca. 825

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Wooden portal of the stave church at Urnes, Norway, ca. 1050-1070

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


Hiberno-Saxon Art: Dates______________



  • Chi-rho-iota page, folio 34 recto of the Book of Kells, probably from Iona, Scotland, late eighth or early ninth century

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Man (symbol of Saint Matthew), folio 21 verso of the Book of Durrow, possibly from Iona, Scotland, ca. 660-680

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Cross-inscribed carpet page, folio 26 verso of the Lindisfarne Gospels, from Northumbria, England, ca. 698-721

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Saint Matthew, folio 25 verso of the Lindisfarne Gospels, from Northumbria, England, ca. 698-721

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • High Cross of Muiredach, Monasterboice, Ireland, 923

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subjects:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • South Cross, Ahenny, late eighth century

    • Description:



Visigothic and Mozarabic Art: Dates______________



  • San Juan Bautista, Baños de Cerrato, Spain, 661

    • Description:

    • Architectural features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Emeterius, the tower and scriptorium of San Salvador de Tábara, colophon (folio 168) of the Commentary on the Appocalypse by Beatus, from Tábara, Spain, 970

    • Medium/materials:

    • Subject:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:


Carolingian Art: Dates______________
Sculpture and Painting:


  • Equestrian portrait of Charlemagne or Charles the Bald, from Metz, France, ninth century

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Christ enthroned, Godesaic Lectionary, 781-783

    • Description & significance:

  • Saint Matthew, folio 15 recto of the Coronation Gospels (Gospel Book of Charlemagne), from Aachen, Germany, ca. 800-810

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Saint Matthew, folio 18 verso of the Ebbo Gospels (Gospel Book of Archbishop Ebbo of Reims), from Hautvillers, France, ca. 816-835

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Psalm 44, detail of folio 25 recto of the Utrecht Psalter, from Hautvillers, France, ca. 820-835

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Psalm 23, Utrecht Psalter, ca. 820-835

    • Description:

  • Crucifixion, front cover of the Lindau Gospels, from Saint Gall, Switzerland, ca. 870

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

Architecture:


  • Restored plan and west façade of the Platine Chapel of Charlemagne, Aachen, Germany, 792-805

    • Description:

    • Architectural features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Interior of the Palatine Chapel of Charlemagne, Aachen, Germany, 792-805

    • Architectural features:

    • Decorative features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Schematic plan for a monastery, from Saint Gall, Switzerland, ca. 819

    • Medium/materials:

    • Description of plan:

    • Function & significance:

  • Torhalle, Lorsch, late eighth or ninth century

    • Description & significance:

  • Saint-Riquier, Centula, 790-799

    • Description & significance:

  • Westwork of the abbey church, Corvey, Germany, 873-885

    • Architectural features:

    • Function & significance:


Ottonion Art: Dates______________
Architecture:


  • Nave of the church of Saint Cyriakus, Gernrode, Germany, 961-973

    • Architectural features:

    • Decorative features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Saint Michael’s (exterior), Hildesheim, Germany, 1001-1031

    • Description:

    • Architectural features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Longitudinal section and plan of the abbey church of Saint Michael’s, Hildesheim

    • Description:

    • Architectural features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Nave, Saint Michaels, Hildesheim, 1001-1031

    • Description:

Sculpture and Painting:


  • Column, Saint Michael’s, Hildesheim, ca. 1015-1022

    • Description:

  • Doors with relief panels (Genesis, left door; life of Christ, right door), commissioned by Bishop Bernward for Saint Michael’s, Hildesheim, Germany, 1015

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subjects:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • God accusing Adam and Eve, detail of the left door of Saint Michael’s, Hildesheim

    • Description:

    • Stylistic features:

  • Otto I presenting Magdeburg Cathedral to Christ, from an altar or pulpit in Magdeburg Cathedral, Magdeburg, Germany, 962-968

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Christ blessing Otto II and Theophanu, 972-973

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Crucifix commissioned by Archbishop Gero for Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany, ca. 970

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Otto III enthroned, folio 24 recto of the Gospel Book of Otto III, from Reichenau, Germany, 997-1000

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Jesus and Peter, Gospel Book of Otto III, 997-1000

    • Description:

  • Annunciation to the Shepherds, folio in the Lectionary of Henry II, from Reichenau, Germany, 1002-1014

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

  • Abbess Uta dedicating her codex to the Virgin, folio 2 recto of the Uta Codex, from Regensburg, Germany, ca. 1025

    • Medium/materials:

    • Size/scale:

    • Subject:

    • Stylistic features:

    • Function & significance:

Concluding notes:


Exercises for Study:

1. Give examples from three different locations of Early Medieval artworks that employ abstract interlace patterns. Describe similarities and differences you notice in the patterns.


2. Describe the key architectural features introduced in the basilican church design in the Early Medieval period.
3. Compare and contrast the following pairs of artworks, using the points of comparison as a guide.

A. Saint Matthew, folio 15 recto of the Coronation Gospels (Gospel Book of Charlemagne) (Fig. 11-13); Saint Matthew, folio 18 verso of the Ebbo Gospels (Gospel Book of Archbishop Ebbo of Reims) (Fig. 11-14)



  • Periods:

  • Subjects:

  • Composition:

  • Stylistic features:

B. Cross-inscribed carpet page, folio 26 verso of the Lindisfarne Gospels (Fig. 11-7); Maqsud of Kashan, carpet from the funerary mosque of Shaykh Safi al-Din, Ardabil, Iran (Fig. 10-27)

  • Periods:

  • Location of origin:

  • Medium/materials:

  • Stylistic features:

C. High Cross of Muiredach (east face), Monasterboice, Ireland (Fig. 11-9); Gero Crucifix (Fig. 11-28)

  • Periods:

  • Location of origin:

  • Medium/materials:

  • Function:

  • Stylistic features:



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