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Article

Jane Geddes

Deluxe manuscript (Aberdeen, U. Lib., MS. 24) made in England around 1200. It is remarkable for its lavish illustrations, amply covered in gold leaf; for the wealth of its codicological data and for its close relationship to the Ashmole Bestiary. The book was left unfinished, so sketches and the detailed instructions for its colouring and assembly remain visible. The last few pages were completed in the 14th century. The book begins with a Creation cycle of full-page miniatures culminating in Adam Naming the Animals and Christ in Majesty. A portrait or narrative illustration of each animal precedes every text description.

The manuscript contains the press mark of King Henry VIII’s library, mainly assembled after the dissolution of the monasteries, but its provenance before 1542 is not known. Muratova (1986, pp. 118–144) uses cumulative information from a group of related manuscripts to suggest a provenance in the north-east Midlands; Geddes (...

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

Charles Buchanan

Type of large-format Bible, usually found in pandect (single-volume) form, produced in central Italy and Tuscany from around 1060 to the middle of the 12th century. They came out of the efforts of a reformist papacy intent on wresting control over ecclesiastical investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor. The Giant Bibles were produced in reformed canonries and monasteries and then exported to the same, not only in Italy but throughout Europe.

The term ‘Atlantic’ (from the mythological giant Atlas) is derived from their impressive size; dimensions range from 550 to 600 mms by 300 to 400 mms. Their script, derived from Caroline minuscule, is placed in two columns of around fifty-five lines. The texts are decorated with two initial types, which Edward B. Garrison designated as ‘geometrical’ and ‘full shaft’, both of which are derived from Carolingian and Ottonian exemplars, respectively. The iconography consists of full-length prophets, patriarchs, kings and saints as well as narrative scenes. The last are at times found as full-page cyclical illuminations and preface important textual divisions, especially Genesis. The iconography of the Giant Bibles is a specific Roman iconographical recension with its sources based in part on Early Christian pictorial cycles, such as the wall paintings of Old St Peter’s in Rome. These came from an era considered by the reformers to have been uncorrupted by the abuses that afflicted the Church when these Bibles were being made. While the Giant Bibles were promulgated by the Church of Rome as a symbol of its supreme authority, they also allowed the clergy to perform the liturgy, and the Divine Office in particular, properly....

Article

Christopher Holdsworth

(b nr Dijon, 1090; d Clairvaux, Aug 20, 1153; can 1174; fd 20 Aug).

French saint, Cistercian abbot, and writer. He was born into a noble family and spent most of his life at Clairvaux Abbey in southern Champagne. He became its first abbot in 1115, having entered Cîteaux, its mother house, in 1113. The Cistercians became the most successful monastic reform movement of the age. When Bernard died there were about 170 monasteries attached to Clairvaux, nearly half the Order’s total, their spread across Europe reflecting Bernard’s power to attract recruits and patrons. A superb orator and writer, he was involved in attacking heresy, ending a papal schism, and encouraging the Second Crusade.

The only place where Bernard wrote directly (but not extensively) on art and buildings was in his Apologia, addressed to his friend William of Saint-Thierry (c. 1075–1148), a Benedictine, whom he tried to reassure that Cistercian criticisms of other Benedictines were soundly based. Neither the traditional date of ...

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

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...

Article

(d Engelberg, Obwalden, March 27, 1178).

?Swabian ecclesiastic, writer and ?illuminator. He took his vows at St Blasien (Swabia) and, probably after a period at Einsiedeln Abbey, went on to Engelberg. From 1147 until his death he was the Abbot of Engelberg, to which he brought spiritual and economic prosperity. He founded the extensive library and the writing school there and himself wrote learned treatises. Despite differences in script, the manuscripts that survive from Frowinus’s period form a unified group, especially in their illustrations; a strict graphic effect, a confident but reserved use of colour, and many original touches are typical of the pen drawings that are preserved, with initials decorated with animals and human figures. It is impossible to ascertain whether Frowinus made a personal contribution to the manuscripts that name him as their originator. Durrer believed that Frowinus was actively involved in the decoration of these manuscripts, suggesting that he worked as a book illuminator; but Bruckner thought this unlikely, as medieval scholars virtually never also worked as scribes or illuminators. He traced the unity back to strictly observed guidelines in the scriptorium and believed that the early work of Frowinus’s period is in keeping with the development of Swabian illumination, suggesting that other monks from St Blasien worked in the Engelberg scriptorium while Frowinus was abbot. Many manuscripts bearing his name or showing the unmistakable signs of his school are preserved, of which about thirty are in Engelberg itself (including the outstanding ...

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

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

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

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

Olimpia Theodoli

[Leone Marsicano; Leone Ostiense; Leone di Montecassino]

(b ?1046; d ?1115).

Italian illuminator and chronicler. Born into the noble family of de’ Marsi, he joined the abbey of Montecassino (see Montecassino, §2, (i)) at the age of 14 and gained the trust and protection of the abbot Desiderius (later Pope Victor III). Montecassino excelled under Desiderius, who promoted artistic, religious and political splendour. Leo is one of the earliest recorded illuminators in Italy as well as one of the most accomplished. Among his works is the Lives of SS Benedict, Maurus, and Scholastica (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. Vat. lat. 1202); its opening page shows Desiderius donating buildings and books to St Benedict. A book of Homilies (Montecassino Abbey, Lib., MS. 99), signed and dated 1072, shows Leo kneeling in front of St Benedict with the abbots Giovanni (914–43) and Desiderius standing on the bishop’s right. Abbot Oderisius (1087–1105) commissioned him to write the life of Desiderius, which was enlarged into the ...

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

Elizabeth C. Teviotdale

Illuminated German Missal (282×188 mm; Los Angeles, CA, Getty Mus., MS. 64) made at and for the Benedictine monastery of St Michael at Hildesheim ( see Hildesheim §2 ), probably in the 1170s. A sophisticated monument of typological art, its illumination is probably the work of a single artist. The Missal’s series of five frontispieces, three at the opening of the manuscript and two at the beginning of the Canon of the Mass, present the theme that the promise of Christian salvation was inherent in the wisdom of Creation. Seven full-page miniatures follow interspersed in the liturgical cycle. They depict key events in the life of Christ (Nativity, Resurrection, Ascension) with both common and esoteric Old Testament types, St Peter’s sermon following the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Assumption of the Virgin, St Michael and his angels battling demons, and Bishop Bernward, Bishop of Hildesheim of Hildesheim, the monastery’s founder. The manuscript may originally have had on its cover a Carolingian ivory diptych acquired by Bernward....

Article

Peter Kidson

(b c. 1081; d Saint-Denis, 1151).

French ecclesiastic, patron, and writer. He was born of an obscure and perhaps humble family, and at the age of ten he was presented as an oblate to Saint-Denis Abbey, around which his entire life and career revolved. As his competence and flair for business were recognized he was promoted secretary to the abbot, provost of outlying properties, and envoy to the papal court. In 1122 he became abbot. While in statu pupillari he formed a lifelong friendship with the future King Louis VI of France (reg 1108–37). During the Second Crusade he was Regent in the King’s absence.

As a man of affairs and adviser to kings, Suger was not fundamentally different from other eminent 12th-century ecclesiastics, but under his abbacy the administration of the resources of Saint-Denis was completely overhauled, monastic life in some sense ‘reformed’, and the abbey church itself partially rebuilt and refurbished. It is the fact that he wrote about the building operations that makes Suger a subject of interest to art historians. Contemporary accounts of medieval buildings are rare, and sufficient in themselves to make the buildings historically interesting, but Suger’s texts are exceptionally important because the west portals of Saint-Denis had perhaps the earliest ...

Article

Nigel J. Morgan

(Presbyter)

(fl first half of the 12th century).

Belgian or German monk and writer. He is the author of a treatise on artistic techniques, De diversis artibus, which is the fullest account of the working methods of artists from the medieval period. The text survives in many copies and was used throughout the Middle Ages. The name Theophilus is a pseudonym since the author, as he explained in the preface, did not wish to achieve fame but to dedicate his skills to God. One manuscript of the text has a 17th-century interpolation that records that Theophilus is also called ‘Rugerus’. From the date and provenance of the earliest manuscripts of the text and from comparison with extant works of art of the techniques described, it is clear that the treatise was written during the first half of the 12th century in north-west Germany. There is a strong likelihood that Theophilus can be identified with the goldsmith monk Roger...

Article

Shen Fu

[Huang T’ing-chien; zi Luzhi; hao Shangu Laoren]

(b Fenning [modern Xiushui], Jiangxi Province, 1045; d Fenning, 1105).

Chinese calligrapher, poet and scholar-official. He is regarded as the avant-garde figure of the Four Great Calligraphers of the Northern Song (960–1127), who emphasized individual expression in their work; the others are Cai Xiang, Su Shi and Mi Fu (see Mi family, §1; see also China, People’s Republic of §IV 2., (iv)). Huang was a calligraphy critic and an early theorist of literati painting (wenren hua; see China, People’s Republic of §V 4., (ii)) and is also acknowledged as the founder of the Jiangxi school of poetry. A member of an exceptionally cultured family of well-known poets, he became associated with individuals such as Su Shi, who at court opposed the reforms of the Chief Councillor, Wang Anshi (1021–86). As a result of political struggles between conservatives and reformers, Huang was exiled in 1094 to Fuzhou in Sichuan Province and only after this produced his most impressive calligraphy....

Article

Julia K. Murray

[ Wang T’ing-yün ; zi Ziduan ; hao Huanghua Shanren ]

(b Xiongyue, Liaoning Province, 1151; d Beijing, 1202).

Chinese painter, calligrapher and poet. A scholar–painter who perpetuated the ideals of Su Shi and his circle, he was the most prominent artist of the Jin period (1115–1234), the alien Jürchen (Ruzhen) regime in northern China. He and his circle flourished during the reign of Zhangzong (reg 1190–1208), the cultural high point of the Jin period. Best known for his paintings after Wen Tong of bamboo, the quintessential scholar’s subject ( see China, People’s Republic of §V 3., (vi), (c) ), Wang also painted monochrome landscapes and old trees. In calligraphy, he modelled his style after Mi Fu and was most skilled in running script (xingshu). His contemporaries acclaimed him as excelling in the Three Perfections (sanjue) of poetry, calligraphy and painting.

Wang came from a prominent literati family, possibly non-Han, and passed the civil service examination to gain the title of jinshi...