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Chevron  

John Thomas

Form of three-dimensional zigzag ornament particularly associated with Anglo-Norman Romanesque architecture, where it was used to decorate arches, doorways and windows. An equivalent term is dancette (or dancetty), although this is generally reserved for the zigzags used in heraldry. The stripes and flashes set on to the sleeves of military uniform tunics are also chevrons. Architectural chevron is possibly related to Byzantine brick saw-tooth ornament, transmitted indirectly through the decoration of, for example, canon tables in Carolingian and Ottonian illuminated manuscripts (e.g. the Gospel Book of Bernward of Hildesheim; c. 1000; Hildesheim, Diözmus. & Domschatzkam., MS. 18). The saw-tooth motif appears in Romanesque wall painting until the late 12th century (e.g. Terrassa, Spain, S Maria; c. 1175–1200). Chevron is not common in Western buildings before ad 1000, but it is found in Islamic architecture as early as the 8th century at Qusayr ‛Amra, and although it remains unclear precisely how chevron became so closely associated with Anglo-Norman architecture, Borg has suggested that both manuscript illuminations and knowledge of Islamic buildings brought by returning crusaders after ...

Article

Elina Gertsman

Art and drama in the Middle Ages existed in a complex, symbiotic relationship. Material culture certainly formed an integral part of a wide variety of medieval performances, including liturgical drama and Latin comedies, Apocalypse and Passion plays, farces and moralities, mystery and miracle plays, and processions and tableaux vivants. While some scholars have argued that drama influenced visual culture, and others have asserted the primacy of images, it has become clear that both art and drama drew on common cultural resources and played an active role in the shaping of medieval culture.

It is, however, difficult to reconstruct the ephemera of medieval performances, because the remaining material artefacts—textual and visual—are steeped in uncertainty. Although stage plans indicate possible configurations, the spaces where performances took place were fluid: a church or a square, a tavern or a street, a hall or a cloister. Sometimes the make-shift stages—scaffolds or mansions—were static, as in Rouen; sometimes pageant wagons, which designated particular action locations, moved through city streets, as in York. In this way, the very architectural and topographical fabric of urban or rural communities was incorporated into and provided an interactive setting for a performance....

Article

Marsha Meskimmon

(b nr Mainz, Sept 16, 1098; d Rupertsberg, nr Bingen, Sept 17, 1179).

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 1117 and became an abbess in 1136. She articulated a specifically female mystic theology that was, at the same time, a powerful and acknowledged message (see fig.).

Her work as a visual artist is primarily ascribed to her contribution to the Rupertsberg Scivias (c.1165, destr. 1945; facs. Eibingen, Bibl. St Hildegard, see fig.); a manuscript that contains images and texts that record her visions. Throughout the 1140s there is evidence of her writing and drawing in tandem, and scholars have made the important point that her work breaks with conventional divisions between text and image (Caviness, ...

Article

Rowan Watson

(b ?Reims, c. 1300; d ?April 13, 1377).

French composer and poet. He was the most prolific and inventive poet and composer of his day. His texts and manuscripts characterize the taste of the royal court in mid-14th-century France. From c. 1323 to 1346 he was in the service of John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, after which he served members of the French royal family, among them Jean, Duc de Berry. Despite a peripatetic career, Machaut’s chief home was in Reims, where he finally became a canon in 1337, and where the Dauphin, the future Charles V, had him sought from his house during a visit to the city in 1361.

Machaut’s autobiographical poem Voir-dit (1362–5) shows his working methods. In his mature years at least, he dictated work to a secretary and could call on the services of copyists. Mention of Machaut’s Livre où je met toutes mes choses in the poem appears to refer to a personal copy of his works, possibly partly in his own hand, that was unbound to facilitate copying, re-ordering, and further additions. Miniatures showing the poet writing upon a roll refer to another means by which he transmitted texts, particularly suited for performance or reading aloud....

Article

John Richards

(b Rigoli, nr Pisa, 1348; d Pisa, after 1438).

Italian painter. The style of the altarpiece that is probably Turino’s earliest extant work, the Virgin and Child with Saints, Archangels and Angel Musicians (c. 1380; Palermo, Mus. Reg.), suggests he was influenced by Sienese painting, but this may have come via Barnaba da Modena, whose Madonna dei Mercanti (Pisa, Mus. N. S Matteo) is exactly reproduced in the central group. A Baptism of Christ of c. 1390 (Pisa, Mus. N. S Matteo) is closely based on the panel by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini (London, N.G.). In 1397 Turino signed and dated a panel of the Virgin and Child with Two Saints and Two Blessed (Pisa, S Paolo a Ripa d’Arno). In this and panels of the Virgin and Child with Angels (Paris, Louvre) and the Virgin Annunciate and the Archangel Gabriel (both c. 1395; Pisa, Mus. N. S Matteo) Turino’s style is more robust. Figures are larger and more ponderous, recalling earlier Florentine painting. Between ...