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Article

Pomposa  

Charles B. McClendon

Italian former Benedictine abbey near the mouth of the Po River and 45 km north of Ravenna in the province of Emilia Romagna. Although first documented in ad 874, a monastic settlement probably existed there at least two centuries earlier. Pomposa rose to prominence in the 10th and 11th centuries through the support of the Holy Roman emperors. Over the course of the 14th century, a notable series of wall paintings in three different buildings were sponsored despite the monastery’s waning fortunes. In 1663 the monastic community was suppressed by papal decree. The site was secularized in 1802 and became property of the Italian state after 1870.

The proportions of the wooden-roofed basilican church, along with the polygonal outline of its main apse, reflect influence from nearby Ravenna and Classe and suggest a date in the 8th or 9th century. An elaborate pavement of mosaic and cut stone (opus sectile...

Article

Ratgar  

David Parsons

[Radger]

(d 6 Dec ?sd 820).

Abbot and architect. He was Abbot of Fulda from 802 to 817. Ratgar is described in a near-contemporary source as ‘skilful architect’ and is regarded by some authorities as second only to Einhard as a master builder of the Carolingian revival. A pupil of Sturm, the first Abbot (744–79), he took charge of the rebuilding of the monastery church in the 790s under Abbot Baugulf (779–802). Following his unanimous election, the early years of Ratgar’s abbacy were peaceful, but his rule became autocratic and he punished harshly monks who were disobedient or who protested against his policies. His building projects were regarded by some of the community as superfluous. Of these the most significant was the westward extension of the Abbey Church at Fulda (see Fulda §1). This grandiose scheme sought to imitate Old St Peter’s and other churches in Rome and produced one of the largest churches in the Carolingian empire, more than doubling the size of the building reconstructed under Baugulf. The building works diverted the monks from their other duties and impoverished the community. Ratgar’s solution to the financial problem was to build proprietorial churches on the Abbey’s estates in order to claim their tithes. This further alienated the monks, who complained to Charlemagne in 812 and finally revolted in 817. They appealed to Louis the Pious who banished Ratgar. He died at a daughter house near Fulda....

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 ...