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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.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...

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 ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

One of the few surviving, early medieval, Latin technical treatises. Its attribution, localization, and dating rest largely on internal evidence variously interpreted and inconclusive. The treatise now comprises three books: it is generally agreed that Books I and II, written in verse by one hand at some time between the 7th and 12th centuries, constitute the original text; Book III, written in prose, was added piecemeal during the 12th and 13th centuries. The treatise is commonly attributed to (H)Eraclius, who is cited as the author in Books I and III but probably wrote only Books I and II. It is not known whether he was a native of Italy or a northerner promoting his knowledge of Roman techniques, and accordingly De coloribus has been located to either Italy or northern Europe.

Relatively complete versions of the text survive in two manuscripts, both accompanied by Theophilus’s treatise De diversis artibus (extracts of the text within compilations of technical material are more common): the first (ex-Trinity Coll., Cambridge, MS. R. 15 5; London, BL, Egerton MS. 840 A) is German and dated ...

Article

Pamela A. Patton

Embroidered textile (Girona, Cathedral; see Girona §1) produced in Catalonia c. 1100. Although popularly labelled a tapestry, it is in fact a monumental embroidery in wool and linen on fine wool twill. It might have been produced for the cathedral following its consecration in 1038, since the cathedral is known to have possessed a number of textiles as early as 1053. Although a 16th-century reference to a hanging depicting the Emperor Constantine is sometimes taken to allude to this work, it is not otherwise documented before the end of the 19th century.

While the lack of comparable textiles leaves the date of the work uncertain, both pictorial style and the forms used in the inscriptions support a date in the late 11th or very early 12th century. In its present state, it takes the form of a substantial fragment, approximately 3.65m×4.70m, of an original perhaps 5 m sq. Today, it lacks a narrow strip along its right edge and over a metre of its lower section. The wool used predominantly in its embroidery was dyed a wide range of colours, including greens, blues, red, beige, black and various earth tones; bleached linen or hemp is also evident. Self-couching and stem stitch combine to cover the base material completely and create a tapestry-like appearance....

Article

Chinese, 11th century, male.

Activec.1070-1080.

Art theorist.

Guo Ruoxu was the author of the most important work on the history of art of the Northern Song period, the Tu Hua Jian Wen zhi (1074), which saw itself as the continuation of the monumental treatise by Zhang Yanyuan, the ...

Article

Huesca  

Daniel Rico

Spanish provincial capital, to the north of Saragossa in Aragón. Known in pre-Roman Iberia as Bolskan and as Osca under the Romans, it was the seat of the Quintus Sertorius government, a municipium (free town) since the time of Augustus and a bishopric under the Visigoths. During the period of Muslim domination from the 8th to the 11th centuries, the town, known as Wasqa, became a defensive settlement with a city wall stretching for more than 1.8 km, of which some sections still remain. Although the city was recovered by the Christians in 1096 and the episcopal see restored the following year, the architectural transformation of Huesca was not immediate. During the 12th century only two edifices of any real importance were constructed. One of these was the Benedictine monastery of S Pedro el Viejo, of which three Romanesque structures have survived: the church—a simple construction which nevertheless has two interesting tympana carved by sculptors from Jaca; a small chapel, possibly inherited from the Mozarab community in the 11th century, which was used as the Chapter House and then as a funeral chapel; and a cloister decorated around ...

Article

Jutland  

Harriet Sonne de Torrens

Mainland peninsula of modern-day Denmark and one of the three provinces (Jutland, Zealand and Skåne, southern Sweden) that constituted medieval Denmark. The conversion of the Danes to Christianity initiated a reorganization of the economic, social and legal structures of Denmark that would change the shape of Jutland dramatically between the 11th and 14th centuries. Under Knut the Great, King of Denmark and England (reg 1019–35), Jutland acquired a stable diocesan system (1060) that enabled a systematic collection of tithes and the growth of religious institutions between 1050 and 1250. During this period, agricultural practices changed as manor houses and landed estates were established, producing wealth for the ruling families. Under Valdemar I (reg 1157–82) and Knut VI (reg 1182–1202), Jutland witnessed a great building activity; on Jutland more than 700 stone churches were constructed, some replacing earlier wooden churches, each needing liturgical furnishings. Workshops, such as that of the renowned sculptor Horder and many others, were actively engaged in carving stone baptismal fonts (e.g. Malt, Skodborg, Ut, Stenild), capitals, reliefs (Vestervig, Aalborg) and tympana (Gjøl, Ørsted, Stjaer, Skibet), wooden cult figures, Jutland’s golden altars (Lisbjerg, Sahl, Stadil, Tamdrup) and wall paintings. Evidence of the earliest wall paintings in Jutland, ...

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 (c. 1000; Reykjavík, N. Mus.) or through such ornamental hammers as those from north Jutland in the Copenhagen Nationalmuseum, and Freya, head of the Valkyries, was painted riding a cat on the walls of Schleswig Cathedral.

The Fall of Troy is most celebrated in the early 13th-century copy of Heinrich von Veldecke’s ...

Article

Chinese, 11th century, male.

Born 1007, in Luling (Jiangxi); died 1072.

Art theorist.

Ouyang Xiu was a famous statesman, known as a man of letters and an aesthetician. As with many men of letters, his writings turn to art criticism when dealing with the many inscriptions he selected for the ...

Article

Louis I. Hamilton

(b Bieda, nr Ravenna, c. 1050/55; reg 1099–1118; d Rome, Jan 21, 1118).

Italian pope and patron. Paschal is often considered a weak successor to popes Gregory VII (reg 1073–85) and Urban II (reg 1088–99), and his contributions have been overshadowed by the ‘Privelegium’ dispute with the Emperor Henry V in 1111. He has come to be appreciated as a formidable pope in the tradition of Urban II for his effective use of papal itinerary, pontifical liturgy, church consecrations and an increasingly coherent set of ‘Gregorian’ liturgical commentaries. He dedicated twenty-six churches during his papacy; that seven of those were after 1111 bespeaks his ability to resecure his authority (Hamilton, 2010). The influence of reforming ideals and the use of church architecture and art to promote those ideals has been studied for both churches that he dedicated (as diverse as San Vincenzo al Volturno, S Geminiano in Modena (see Modena §1 and St Bénigne in Dijon (see Dijon §IV 2....

Article

Ravello  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. Ravello has been documented as an urban centre since the 10th century and as a bishopric since 1087. The centre, near the Toro quarter, is high up between the two rivers that separate the city from Scala and Minori. The city’s fortifications were damaged and the city itself was sacked by a Pisan assault in 1135 and in 1137. At the end of the 14th century, its inhabitants also clashed with the neighbouring city of Scala. In the 13th century a mercantile oligarchy with power throughout all of Sicily and close relations to the Crown took control of the city, celebrated in Boccaccio’s Decameron (II.4), and enriched it with numerous monuments and artworks.

The cathedral, dedicated to S Pantaleone, dates to 1087 but was extensively altered in the late 18th century. The cathedral has three naves and the façade has three portals—the central one has a bronze door (...

Article

Weihe Chen

[Kuo Jo-hsu]

(b Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, fl 11th century)

Chinese art historian and connoisseur. He was a grandnephew of Empress Guo, wife of the Emperor Zhenzong (reg 998–1023), and the son-in-law of King Xiang, brother to Emperor Renzong (reg 1023–63). He was a minor court official at Bianliang (now Kaifeng), capital of the Northern Song dynasty, but was demoted after accompanying a diplomatic mission to Liao from which a member deserted. His father and grandfather were both ardent art lovers and had a large collection of paintings, but after it was dispersed Guo struggled to regain more than ten of the most famous pictures.

Guo read extensively and was well informed and knowledgeable. Realising there was no history of painting since Zhang Yanyuan’s Lidai ming hua ji (‘Records of famous painters of all periods’; ad 847), he wrote Tuhua jianwen zhi (‘Experiences in painting’) based on his family’s collection, discussions with his scholarly friends and his own observations. In ...

Article

Scala  

Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. According to the 10th-century Chronicon Salernitanum, where it is referred to as Cama, Scala is the oldest centre along the entire Amalfi coast and has its origins in Late Antiquity. However, documentary proof that the city existed is only available from the beginning of the 10th century. Throughout history it has been home to a commercial aristocracy with commercial and political power throughout the entire Kingdom of Sicily. The Sasso and d’Afflitto families stood out from others in this group. Monasteries have been recorded in the city from the 10th century and it was under the control of the Duchy of Amalfi for the entire medieval period.

The settlement is characterized by numerous villages, such as Pontone and Minuta, which are found high up in the mountains behind Amalfi as well as in front of Ravello . Although the city is defended by a series of fortifications, it was damaged and sacked by a Pisan assault in ...

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

Guo Xi  

Mary S. Lawton

[Kuo His; zi Shunfu]

(b Wen xian, Henan Province, c. 1020; d c. 1090).

Chinese painter and theorist. He is considered one of the most important of the late 11th-century masters. Guo Ruoxu (fl 11th century), a minor official at the court of Bianliang (modern Kaifeng), in the Tuhua jianwen zhi (‘Experiences in painting’; 1075) described Guo as supreme among the landscape painters of his generation. Other contemporary critics acclaimed his creativity, the spontaneity of his composition and the dexterity and versatility of his brushwork. Guo’s ideas on the principles of landscape painting, as recorded by his son Guo Si (fl c. 1070–1123) are also important.

Very few details of Guo’s life are known. In 1068 he was summoned to paint a screen for the imperial palace. He received special recognition from the emperor Shenzong (reg 1068–85) for his introduction of an innovative way of painting. He also served other emperors but was not equally honoured. Nevertheless, he remained at court, becoming an assistant teacher (...