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Article

John N. Lupia

Type of ewer, usually of metal, used for the washing of hands in a liturgical or domestic context. It is often zoomorphic in form and usually has two openings, one for filling with water and the other for pouring. In their original usage aquamanilia expressed the symbolic significance of the lavabo, the ritual washing of the hands by the priest before vesting, before the consecration of the Eucharist and after mass. The earliest production of aquamanilia is associated with Mosan art of the Meuse Valley in northern France, and with Lower Saxony in north-east Germany. The majority of surviving examples are made of a variety of bronze that resembles gold when polished, while nearly all those made of precious metals are known only from church inventories.

Church documents refer to aquamanilia as early as the 5th century, when canon regulations stipulated that on ordination the subdeacon should receive such a vessel. Various documents from the 5th century to the beginning of the 11th sometimes use the term to denote both the ewer and its basin. Sometime after the beginning of the 11th century the term became transferred to a type of vessel, usually in the shape of an animal (e.g. lion, stag, horse; ...

Article

Nigel J. Morgan

Manuscript (514×353 mm; Cambridge, Corpus Christi Coll., MS. 2) identified with a Bible recorded in the Gesta sacristarum of Bury St Edmunds Abbey. It is described as having been commissioned by the Sacrist, Hervey, in the time of his brother, Prior Talbot (c. 1125–38), and illuminated by Master Hugo. From this information a date of c. 1135 has been suggested for its production. Full-page painted miniatures (see Romanesque, §IV, 2, (vi)) survive at the beginning of six of the biblical books, and there are also historiated initials. These are painted in strong colours dominated by reds, blues, greens, and purple. Although this palette is in some ways similar to that of the St Albans style evident in the Life and Miracles of St Edmund (New York, Morgan Lib., MS. M. 736), a manuscript produced at Bury a few years earlier and probably painted by the artist of the St Albans Psalter (...

Article

Alison Manges Nogueira

Monumental, marble paschal Candlestick of the late 12th to early 13th century with reliefs signed by Nicolaus de Angelo and Vassallettus now in S Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome. The imposing column (h. 5.6 m), adorned with six registers of reliefs and surmounted by a fluted candle holder, rests upon a base of sculpted lions, sphinxes, rams and female figures. The upper and lower reliefs bear vegetal and ornamental patterns while the three central registers portray Christ before Caiaphas, the Mocking of Christ, Christ before Pilate, Pilate Washing his Hands, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The culminating Easter scenes reflect the paschal candle’s function during the Easter season as a symbol of Christ resurrected, as evoked in an inscription on the base. A second fragmentary inscription refers to the unidentifiable patron’s desire for commemoration. A third inscription identifies Nicolaus de Angelo as the master sculptor and Petrus Vassallettus as playing a secondary role. Both were active in the second half of the 12th to the early 13th century and came from leading families of Roman sculptors: the Vassalletti and Cosmati (Nicolaus’s family). The candlestick is the only work signed by and securely attributed to Nicolaus and the scope of his contribution remains uncertain. A plausible theory attributes the base and first register to Petrus, based upon similarities to works signed by him and ascribed to his family, such as the cloister of S Giovanni in Laterano in Rome and the narthex of S Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. Nicolaus probably executed the Christological scenes, distinguishable for their more dynamic, expressive figures and decorative chisel work, and appropriate for the master sculptor because of their centrality and significance. Early Christian sarcophagi and Carolingian ivories may have provided models for the figural types. This form of paschal candlestick was probably inspired by Roman columnar monuments carved with triumphal scenes....

Article

Don Denny

Numerical list of concordant passages in the Gospels, devised in the early 4th century by the historian Eusebios of Caesarea. Such tables indicate passages to be found in all four Gospels, those found in two or three of the Gospels and those unique to a particular Gospel. In medieval manuscripts they appear as a series of pages, varying from seven to as many as nineteen, placed at the front of Gospel books and often included, preceding the Gospels, in full Bibles. It was customary to surround them with ornament and, despite the wide geographical and chronological range of this practice, the basic decorative format remained fairly constant. The tables are divided and framed by representations of architectural columns surmounted by arcades or, occasionally, pediments; pictorial matter is concentrated in the upper part of the design, which might contain decorative and symbolic bird and plant motifs as well as more explicit illustrative features, such as the Evangelist symbols or the Twelve Apostles. In Eastern manuscripts the tables are sometimes preceded by two or three pages of introductory text, similarly framed by architectural designs, and a further page of related ornament (e.g. a tempietto) might be included at the beginning or end....

Article

Elizabeth C. Parker

Double-sided Latin cross (h. 577 mm, New York, Cloisters, 63.12) that is a masterpiece of Romanesque carving in walrus ivory. Its history is unknown before the 1950s, when it belonged to the art dealer Ante Topic-Mimara of Zagreb, formerly in Yugoslavia, from whom it was acquired for The Cloisters Collection by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1963. It is in excellent condition with the exception of the irregular break at the bottom of the shaft and the complete loss of the bottom terminal. These suggest wear caused from using different holders if it functioned both as a processional and an altar cross. Holes on the lower shaft and cross arm also suggest there was originally a corpus attached, despite the marked projection of the central roundel.

Some 99 figures and 66 biblical inscriptions in Latin enhance the unusually complex iconography of the cross. The obverse, characterized as the Tree of Life by truncated branches on the shaft and cross arms, depicts ...

Article

M. Heinlen

Essentially a papal letter concerning a matter of canonical discipline. Throughout the Middle Ages numerous collections of decretals were compiled, which served as the basis of ecclesiastical administration and canon law; in the 12th century they began to be extensively illustrated. Between the 12th and 15th centuries illustrated canon law manuscripts, primarily comprising decretals, were made and used throughout western Europe, with major centres of production located in such university cities as Paris and Bologna. These books, along with civil law manuscripts, are numerically the most important type of non-liturgical manuscript illustrated in the medieval period, and a wide range of stylistic developments is represented in the hundreds of extant examples.

The earliest illustrations in decretal manuscripts are Trees of Consanguinity and Affinity. These full-page schemata depict degrees of familial relationships in order to demonstrate the legal implications of marriage bonds. The Tree of Consanguinity shows a man standing with outstretched arms before a tree containing the Table of Consanguinity; the affinities were similarly depicted but also included a woman. These illustrations first appeared in manuscripts of the ...

Article

Robert G. Calkins

Long scrolls, usually of parchment, containing the music and words of the liturgical chant for the Easter Vigil. Named after the opening word of the chant announcing Easter, ‘Exultet iam angelica turba coelorum …’, these rolls were used during the ceremony of the blessing and lighting of the Easter Candle, which symbolizes both the Pillar of Fire that led the Israelites through the wilderness and the Resurrection of Christ, the Light of the World, on Easter Day. This liturgy, derived from the Pontifical, is attributed to Bishop Landolfo I of Benevento (reg 957–82) and became widespread among the churches in southern Italy dominated by Montecassino Abbey. As a result, such scrolls were prevalent in the Benevento and around Montecassino from the 10th to the 13th centuries (see Montecassino, §2, (i)).

Although they served a liturgical function, these scrolls were primarily ceremonial display pieces. Decorated with large elaborate interlace initials in the Beneventan style, they also contain miniatures painted in a Byzantinizing style. The miniatures were often painted upside down in relation to the text, so that when the scrolls were draped over the pulpit and the deacon intoned the words of the chant, the congregation could see the succession of illustrations right side up (e.g. Bari, Mus. Dioc., Cod. 1)....

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

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

William M. Voelkle

Portable altar–reliquary (New York, Morgan Lib.), made c. 1156 for the Stavelot Abbey in the Ardennes, Belgium and decorated with both Mosan and Byzantine enamels (see fig.). The reliquary is named after the Benedictine abbey headed by Wibald of Stavelot, its enlightened abbot from 1130 to 1158. It is the first of a series of Mosan reliquary triptychs containing portions of the True Cross. Of these, only the Stavelot Triptych contains scenes from the life of Constantine and the legend of the finding of the True Cross by Empress Helena, his mother. Although two commissions by Wibald are documented (the St Remaclus Retable, destroyed during the French Revolution, and the Head Reliquary of Pope Alexander of 1145; Brussels, Musées Royaux A. & Hist.), the Stavelot Triptych is not. Wibald may have been given both the cross relic and the two small Byzantine enamel triptychs displayed on the centre panel of the Stavelot Triptych during his diplomatic mission (...