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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 show that the story was in circulation at least a generation before the earliest surviving written text was composed. The one surviving manuscript of Béroul’s Tristan is unillustrated, while the fragments of Thomas’s version include a single historiated initial showing Tristan playing the harp (Oxford, Bodleian Lib., MS. Fr. d. 16, fol. 10). Although Eilhart von Oberge’s Tristrant, composed in the late 12th century, is the earliest version of the Tristan story to survive complete, the only surviving illustrated copy dates from the 15th century (c. 1465–75; Heidelberg, UBib., Cpg 346), while the Munich manuscript of Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan was made in south Germany ...

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 Aviarium (Book of Birds). It is a luxury manuscript with lavish use of gold leaf, sometimes tooled, in the backgrounds of the full-page miniatures and numerous smaller framed animal ‘portraits’. Its images are especially notable for their ornamental qualities, evident in both the pictorial compositions and a wide variety of geometric framing devices. The prefatory cycle includes a full-page miniature of Adam Naming the Animals. The Ashmole Bestiary is considered a ‘sister’ manuscript to the Aberdeen Bestiary (Aberdeen, U. Lib., MS. 24), to which it is iconographically very closely related, but owing to major stylistic differences the two manuscripts have been attributed to different artists. The chronological relationship between the two has been disputed: based on proposed workshop methods, Muratova (...

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

British, 13th century, male.

Painter, miniaturist, illuminator. Murals, designs for stained glass.

In 1260 this artist was working in the scribes' and illuminators' district of Oxford. He illustrated various manuscripts and psalters between 1230 and 1250, among them The Last Judgement and a Sarum Book of Hours...

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

Catherine Harding

(b Lomello, Dec 24, 1296; d Avignon, c. 1354).

Italian parish priest, manuscript illuminator and scholar. His drawings explored the connections between vision, reason and spirituality. In particular, he was drawn to the idea of training the ‘inner eye’ of reason, and he hoped that his images would provide tools for spiritual discernment. He worked as a schoolmaster and priest until 1329, when he fled Pavia for political reasons and entered the papal court in Avignon. One year later, he was employed as a scribe in the office of the papal penitentiary.

He produced two illuminated works, both of which are untitled (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, Pal. lat. 1993 and Vat. lat. 6435). The former, known simply as the Palatinus manuscript, encompasses 52 large individual parchment sheets drawn in pen and ink with images on both sides; they feature schematic compositions that combine portolan charts, zodiacs, calendars and human figures, to form complex composite images. The second work, the Vaticanus manuscript, is done in pen and ink on paper and is more of an author’s daybook, collecting thoughts, meditations and images on a variety of topics. His work was not known until the publication of the Palatinus manuscript by R. G. Salomon in ...

Article

Danielle B. Joyner

From the time John Cassian established the first female foundation in Marseille in ad 410, monastic women lived in varying states of enclosure and were surrounded by diverse images and objects that contributed to their devotion, education and livelihood. The first rule for women, written in 512 by St Caesarius of Arles, emphasized their strict separation from men and the world, as did the Periculoso, a directive issued by Pope Boniface VIII (reg 1294–1303) in 1298. Various architectural solutions developed throughout the Middle Ages to reconcile the necessities of enclosure with the access required by male clerics to celebrate Mass and provide pastoral care. Nuns’ choirs, where the women would gather for their daily prayers, were often constructed as discreet spaces in the church, which allowed women to hear or see the Mass without interacting with the cleric, as in the 10th-century choir in the eastern transept gallery at St Cyriakus in Gernrode, Germany. In some Cistercian examples, the nuns’ choir appeared at the west end of the nave. Dominican and Franciscan architecture was largely varied. Double monasteries, which housed men and women, also required careful construction. A 7th-century text describing the church of St Brigida in ...

Article

Cristina De Benedictis

(fl 1288–1324).

Italian painter and illuminator. He was the son of the goldsmith Filippuccio (fl 1273–93). In 1948 Longhi attributed a fresco of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with SS James and John the Evangelist in the church of S Jacopo, San Gimignano, and others in the tower of the Palazzo del Popolo there to Memmo, who is documented as having lived and worked in the town from 1303 to 1317. A document of 1303 also records him as having worked in the upper church of S Francesco, Assisi, and Longhi suggested this might have been on the frescoes of the St Francis cycle, which would account for the Giottesque influence he had noted in the frescoes in San Gimignano. Previtali (1962) further attributed to Memmo the frescoes of Carlo d’Angio Administering Justice (1292; San Gimignano, Pal. Pop., Sala dell’Udienza), an altarpiece of the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints...

Article

Italian, 13th – 14th century, male.

Active in Siena.

Painter.

There are references to him in the books of the Biccherna between 1278 and 1302, and he may have been the same artist as Guido da Siena.

Article

Yi Sŏng-mi

[cha Misu ; childhood name Tŭggok ]

(b Inch-on, Kyŏnggi Province, 1152; d 1220).

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 1180. Because of his literary talent and excellence in calligraphy, he served in the Office of Compilation of History. None of his painting or calligraphy has survived, but he was supposed to have excelled in the cursive and clerical scripts and learned ink bamboo painting from An Ch’i-min, another literati painter of the Koryŏ period. According to a poem written by him on his own ink bamboo painting and recorded in the P’ahanjip, he considered himself an incarnation of Wen Tong , the Chinese ink bamboo painter of the Northern Song period (...

Article

Chu-Tsing Li

[Kung K’ai; zi Shengyu; hao Cuiyan]

(b Huaiyin, Jiangsu Province, 1221; d 1307).

Chinese painter, calligrapher, essayist and poet. When the Mongols became rulers of China as the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), Gong Kai became known chiefly as one of the loyalists of the preceding Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279). Like many intellectuals of the Song period, he received a standard classical education. However, having apparently failed to distinguish himself in the official civil service examinations, he had to serve on the staff of commanders guarding the area of Lianghuai (now Jiangsu Province, north of the River Yangzi) against the constant threat from the north by the Ruzhen (Jürchen) and the Mongols. After the Yuan dynasty became established, Gong lived a secluded life with his family, mainly in the cultural centre of Suzhou and in Hangzhou, the old Southern Song dynastic capital, although he remained active in literary circles. His final years seem to have been spent in poverty. It was said that, lacking furniture in his house, he wrote or drew by resting the paper on his son’s back. Nevertheless, his artistic and literary accomplishments earned him the respect of many of his friends....

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

Illuminated manuscript (Paris, Bib. N., MS. n.a.fr. 16251) made in Cambrai depicting 87 of an original set of 90 full-page illustrations of the Life of Christ and a Litany of the Saints accompanied by a Cistercian Calendar, a subject-list and captions to the illustrations. Comprised of 107 folios, the work was made c. 1285. Two artists participated: the assistant, traceable as Master Henri, who painted a compendium of Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amour and a Vies de saints with tiny historiated initials, in 1285 (Paris, Bib. N., MS. fr. 412), and many other books; and the major painter, otherwise untraced, who probably worked in monumental art, wall painting or stained glass. The book was made for a lady identified in the subject list as ‘Madame Marie’ and the pictures originally showed her kneeling before her ten favourite saints: Michael, John the Baptist, Paul, John the Evangelist, James the Greater, Christopher, Francis, Catherine, Margaret (now missing) and Agnes. All but one of these portraits were painted out, probably when the book came into Cistercian possession. SS Gertrude of Nivelles and Waudru of Mons at the end of the litany indicate where Madame Marie lived—the city of ...

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

Daniel H. Weiss

Extensively illustrated Old Testament manuscript (390×300 mm; New York, Morgan Lib., MS. M.638) produced in France. Containing more than 340 narrative episodes distributed across the recto and verso sides of 46 parchment leaves, the Old Testament cycle begins with the first chapters of Genesis and concludes with scenes from the life of King David from 2 Samuel. No longer in its original binding, three leaves are now separated from the Morgan volume; two being in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris (Ms. nouv. acq. lat. 2294, fols 2, 3) and a single leaf in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles (83. MA.55). Distinctive for the quality of its illustrations, the richness of its narrative cycle and the fact that the original codex probably contained no text, the Morgan manuscript was produced around the middle of the 13th century, most likely in Paris for King Louis IX (reg 1226–70) or a close associate. The ascription of the manuscript to a royal context is based primarily on thematic similarities to other works associated with the King, including especially the ...

Article

Psalter and Hours (434 fols; New York, Morgan Lib., MS. M. 729) made in Amiens c. 1290–1297. With 39 surviving full-page miniatures and 66 historiated initials and calendar illustrations, this is one of the most densely illustrated books of the period. The first owner of the Hours section is depicted in a spectacular full-page miniature, wearing heraldic robes and praying before a tiny statue of the Virgin and Child placed on an altar. The heraldry identifies her as Comtesse de la Table, dame de Coeuvres (d c. 1300), second wife of Raoul, Comte de Soissons. The Book of Hours later came into the possession of her step-daughter Yolande de Soissons, wife of Bernard de Moreuil, and was augmented with a Psalter begun for Comtesse but finished for Yolande and Bernard, who had their own shields added to the Hours part as well.

The book includes many unusual subjects: the Cornfield Legend, the Child in the Tree, Barlaam and Josaphat, Naomi and Elimelech and their children, the Invention of St Firmin (one of the patrons of Amiens Cathedral) and the Holy Face. A smaller frontal head, its halo inscribed ‘...

Article

Anne-Françoise Leurquin

Manual for religious and moral instruction commissioned by Philip III, King of France (reg 1270–85), from his confessor, the Dominican Frère Laurent. The work was finished in 1279–80 and was a literary success. Over 100 manuscript copies have survived, with printed editions appearing in the 15th century, and translations were made into English, Castilian, Catalan, Italian, Dutch and Occitan.

Although the presentation copy is lost, 7 manuscripts have a complete cycle of 15 full-page images and another 20 have selected images. The scenes include representations of the Ten Commandments, the Credo, the Pater noster, the Apocalyptic beast, the Last Judgement and personifications of the virtues and vices paired with moralizing scenes taken mainly from the Old Testament. The images, like the text, are extremely didactic. Nearly all the fully illuminated manuscripts were made for the royal entourage at the turn of the 14th century, often by exceptional artists. Two books were made for the royal family in ...

Article

Italian, 13th century, male.

Painter, illuminator.

Vigoroso illuminated the account book of the Camerlengo (treasurer) of Siena (1280). An altar painting of the same date is attributed to him.

Article

Yujian  

Richard Edwards

[ Yü-chien ; Ruofen ; Jo-fen ; xing Cao ; zi Zhongshi ; hao Furong Shanzhu ]

(b Jinhua, Wuzhou, Zhejiang Province; fl c. 1250).

Chinese painter, calligrapher and priest . He was active in Lin’an (now Hangzhou), Zhejiang Province. At the age of nine he entered Baofeng yuan (Precious Peak monastery), where he took the name Ruofen and trained in Tiantai Buddhism. After his ordination he was appointed scribe (shuji) at Tianzhu si (India temple) in the Bei shan (Northern Mountain) temple complex near Lin’an. Ruofen Yujian has been confused with another monk–painter, Ying Yujian, from Jingci si (Pure Compassion temple), a Chan Buddhist establishment in the Nan shan (Southern Mountain) temple complex, also situated near Lin’an. Both men are listed in Tuhui baojian (‘Precious mirror for examining painting’; preface 1365) by Xia Wenyan, whose account of Ruofen draws substantially on a description of 1351 by the painter Wu Taisu. The identification of Ruofen rather than Ying Yujian with the painter Yujian is due to the existence of this more complete account and its consistency with the kind of paintings attributed to Yujian....