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Jane Geddes

Deluxe manuscript (Aberdeen, U. Lib., MS. 24) made in England around 1200. It is remarkable for its lavish illustrations, amply covered in gold leaf; for the wealth of its codicological data and for its close relationship to the Ashmole Bestiary. The book was left unfinished, so sketches and the detailed instructions for its colouring and assembly remain visible. The last few pages were completed in the 14th century. The book begins with a Creation cycle of full-page miniatures culminating in ...

Article

Artistic manifestations of Arthurian legends antedate surviving textual traditions and sometimes bear witness to stories that have not survived in written form. Thus the Tristan sculptures (c. 1102–17) carved on a column from the north transept of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela...

Article

Debra Higgs Strickland

Richly illustrated bestiary manuscript (275×185mm, 105 fols; Oxford, Bodleian Lib., Ashmole 1511), written in Latin and illuminated probably in southern England around 1210. The original patron is unknown. It contains the text and illustrations of a complete bestiary, with prefatory Creation scenes and excerpts from Genesis and part of Hugh de Folieto’s ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time....

Article

Charles Buchanan

Type of large-format Bible, usually found in pandect (single-volume) form, produced in central Italy and Tuscany from around 1060 to the middle of the 12th century. They came out of the efforts of a reformist papacy intent on wresting control over ecclesiastical investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor. The Giant Bibles were produced in reformed canonries and monasteries and then exported to the same, not only in Italy but throughout Europe....

Article

Christopher Holdsworth

French saint, Cistercian abbot, and writer. He was born into a noble family and spent most of his life at Clairvaux Abbey in southern Champagne. He became its first abbot in 1115, having entered Cîteaux, its mother house, in 1113. The Cistercians became the most successful monastic reform movement of the age. When Bernard died there were about 170 monasteries attached to Clairvaux, nearly half the Order’s total, their spread across Europe reflecting Bernard’s power to attract recruits and patrons. A superb orator and writer, he was involved in attacking heresy, ending a papal schism, and encouraging the Second Crusade....

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ...

Article

Chinese, 12th century, male.

Painter, critic.

Song dynasty.

Deng Chun was a scholar-official who came to know painting at a very young age thanks to his family’s extensive art collection. He was the author of the most important history of art of the Southern Song dynasty, the ...

Article

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium ...

Article

?Swabian ecclesiastic, writer and ?illuminator. He took his vows at St Blasien (Swabia) and, probably after a period at Einsiedeln Abbey, went on to Engelberg. From 1147 until his death he was the Abbot of Engelberg, to which he brought spiritual and economic prosperity. He founded the extensive library and the writing school there and himself wrote learned treatises. Despite differences in script, the manuscripts that survive from Frowinus’s period form a unified group, especially in their illustrations; a strict graphic effect, a confident but reserved use of colour, and many original touches are typical of the pen drawings that are preserved, with initials decorated with animals and human figures. It is impossible to ascertain whether Frowinus made a personal contribution to the manuscripts that name him as their originator. Durrer believed that Frowinus was actively involved in the decoration of these manuscripts, suggesting that he worked as a book illuminator; but Bruckner thought this unlikely, as medieval scholars virtually never also worked as scribes or illuminators. He traced the unity back to strictly observed guidelines in the scriptorium and believed that the early work of Frowinus’s period is in keeping with the development of Swabian illumination, suggesting that other monks from St Blasien worked in the Engelberg scriptorium while Frowinus was abbot. Many manuscripts bearing his name or showing the unmistakable signs of his school are preserved, of which about thirty are in Engelberg itself (including the outstanding ...

Article

Marsha Meskimmon

German ecclesiastic, visionary, philosopher, composer and visual artist. Hildegard of Bingen is one of the best known and most significant figures of 12th-century Europe. Her father was a knight in the Count of Spanheim’s court and throughout her life she corresponded with prominent European leaders, such as King Henry II of England, Queen Eleanor and Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. Hildegard took her Benedictine vows in ...

Article

Yi Sŏng-mi

Korean literati painter, calligrapher and writer . He wrote the P’ahanjip (Chin. Poxian ji: ‘Breaking the doldrums’), a collection of poems and miscellaneous stories in the sihwa (Chin. shihua) literary genre. Active in the Koryŏ period (918–1392), he was born into a well-to-do family; he became a monk but soon abandoned the religious life, passing the civil service examination in ...

Article

Alison Stones

Legends and myths in medieval art are often symbolic rather than narrative, appearing as isolated representations on monuments and portable objects and following the tradition of Greek vase painting where individual subjects are depicted and rely on prior knowledge of the stories for recognition and understanding. World histories celebrated great heroes of the past, starting with Creation and biblical history, then the ancient and medieval world with the exploits of the Trojan heroes, Alexander the Great, King Arthur and the campaigns of Charlemagne and his nephew Roland. Northern gods such as Thor were depicted in cult statues (...

Article

Austrian, 12th century, male.

Calligrapher, miniaturist, writer.

Liutoldus was a monk and became prior of the Benedictine abbey of Mondsee (in Upper Austria, near Salzburg). The Nationalbibliothek of Vienna possesses a Gospel Book by him, the miniatures of which are painted on a gold ground and are surrounded by Byzantine ornaments. The Staatsbibliothek of Munich has a Breviary in the same hand, written between ...

Article

Michael Curschmann

The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....

Article

Olimpia Theodoli

Italian illuminator and chronicler. Born into the noble family of de’ Marsi, he joined the abbey of Montecassino (see Montecassino, §2, (i)) at the age of 14 and gained the trust and protection of the abbot Desiderius (later Pope Victor III). Montecassino excelled under Desiderius, who promoted artistic, religious and political splendour. Leo is one of the earliest recorded illuminators in Italy as well as one of the most accomplished. Among his works is the ...

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....

Article

Elizabeth C. Teviotdale

Illuminated German Missal (282×188 mm; Los Angeles, CA, Getty Mus., MS. 64) made at and for the Benedictine monastery of St Michael at Hildesheim ( see Hildesheim, §2 ), probably in the 1170s. A sophisticated monument of typological art, its illumination is probably the work of a single artist. The Missal’s series of five frontispieces, three at the opening of the manuscript and two at the beginning of the Canon of the Mass, present the theme that the promise of Christian salvation was inherent in the wisdom of Creation. Seven full-page miniatures follow interspersed in the liturgical cycle. They depict key events in the life of Christ (Nativity, Resurrection, Ascension) with both common and esoteric Old Testament types, St Peter’s sermon following the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Assumption of the Virgin, St Michael and his angels battling demons, and Bishop ...

Article

Peter Kidson

French ecclesiastic, patron, and writer. He was born of an obscure and perhaps humble family, and at the age of ten he was presented as an oblate to Saint-Denis Abbey, around which his entire life and career revolved. As his competence and flair for business were recognized he was promoted secretary to the abbot, provost of outlying properties, and envoy to the papal court. In ...

Article

Italian, 12th century, male.

Active in Lombardy in the first half of the 12th century.

Miniaturist, writer.

Theophilus' book Various Comments on Artistic Matters ( Schedula diversa rerum artium) is a precious document about the state of the arts in the Middle Ages.