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John Williams

Sardonyx cup with gold mounts (h. 184 mm, diam. 173 mm; León, Mus.–Bib. Real Colegiata S Isidoro), given by Urraca (c. 1032–1101), the eldest daughter of Ferdinand I, King of Castile-León (reg 1035–65), and sister of Alfonso VI, King of Castile-León (reg 1072–1109), to S Isidoro, León. At Ferdinand’s death, Urraca and her sister Elvira received dominion over the monasteries of the realm for as long as they remained unwed. A chronicle written a decade or so after Urraca’s death goes out of its way to acknowledge her role as donor: ‘All of her life she [Urraca] followed her desire to adorn sacred altars and the vestments of the clergy with gold, silver, and precious stones’.

The high technical level of her gifts may be measured by the chalice. An inscription in beaded gold letters above the foot, in nomine d[omi]ni vrraca fredina[n]di, marks the chalice as the gift of Urraca. The cup and foot of the chalice are made of sardonyx, in shapes consistent with an antique origin, and are joined together by gold mounts to form a Christian liturgical chalice. The cup was lined with gold and has a gold rim richly adorned with pearls, a crystal, and gems held in oval and rectangular settings. An extraordinary addition to this frieze of gems is a white glass paste masculine head recalling the medieval practice of incorporating antique cameos in Christian metalwork. It clearly is not antique, however, and although its long nose and pointed chin seem foreign to the 11th century, the hair on the figure of Ferdinand I on the silver Arca (reliquary) at S Isidoro (...


Francis Woodman

(fl 1188; d 1245).

English cleric, sculptor, and possibly metalworker. A native of West Dereham in Norfolk, he has sometimes been identified with Master Elias, steward to Gilbert de Glanville, Bishop of Rochester. He served in the household of Hubert Walter, Bishop of Salisbury and later Archbishop of Canterbury (1193–1205), and he was employed by other bishops in an executive capacity; he also arranged the distribution of the copies of Magna Carta (1215). With Walter of Colchester (d 1248) he organized the translation of the remains of St Thomas Becket to the new shrine at Canterbury Cathedral in 1220, apparently making and setting up the shrine itself. He was ‘director of the new fabric’ of Salisbury Cathedral (of which he was a canon) from its foundation in 1220 until his death. He built a house for himself in the Close at Salisbury (Leadenhall; destr. 1915). In 1233...


G. Kreytenberg

(fl 1300–34).

Italian sculptor and goldsmith. He is documented in Siena, Massa Marittima, and Messina. He was the son of Goro di Guccio Ciuti (d before 1311), a Florentine sculptor who, with Lapo and Donato, assistants of Nicola Pisano, was granted citizenship in Siena in 1271. Goro di Guccio Ciuti’s sons Neri and Ambrogio, of whom nothing further is known, followed in their father’s footsteps, as did Goro.

Goro’s earliest works are probably the monumental busts on the interior of the north portal of the main façade of the cathedral in Siena, dating from around 1300. One of the two lions on the interior of the main portal also dates from around this time. Goro must have made the sculptural figures, chased in silver, on the shepherd’s staff in the Museo Capitolare in Città di Castello during the first decade of the 14th century. He probably made a statue of a ...


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 ...


Søren Kaspersen

Gilded copper altar frontals found in seven parish churches in Jutland (Lisbjerg, Odder, Tamdrup, Sindbjerg, Ølst, Sahl, and Stadil), one in Schleswig, Germany (Quern), and one in southern Sweden (Broddetorp), as a general rule they date from c. 1135–1225 and were most likely made in different workshops in Jutland. An altar frontal in Lyngsjö Church in Scania (now Skåne, Sweden) is stylistically close to the gilded copper altar frontal (c. 1120–30) in Gross-Komburg Abbey in southern Germany and may have been imported. Fragments, such as cast figures, gilded copper pieces, together with documentary sources indicate the possible existence of 41 golden altars in Scandinavia in the high medieval period, with at least 32 of these coming from medieval Denmark.

Each altar may have consisted of both a frontal and a low retable surmounted by an ‘arch of heaven’ and a crucifix (e.g. Lisbjerg altar, 1135–40; Copenhagen, Nmus.), and was made of copper plates attached to a skeleton or oak frame. The thin copper sheets are embossed, engraved, stamped, and fire gilded, with contrast provided by brown varnish (‘vernis brun’) on the oldest altarpieces. They were also decorated with rock crystals mounted in settings, as on the Stadil frontal where 41 of the original 50 crystals still survive....


(d c. 1417–20).

Goldsmith, sculptor, and painter, probably of German origin. None of his works is known to have survived, but he is mentioned twice in mid-15th-century texts: in the second book of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Commentarii and in the manuscript of the Anonimo Magliabecchiano. Both texts relate that Gusmin died during the reign of Pope Martin (i.e. Martin V, reg 1417–31), in the year of the 438th Olympiad (i.e. between 1415 and 1420). He worked in the service of the Duke of Anjou, who was forced to destroy Gusmin’s greatest work, a golden altar, in order to provide cash for his ‘public needs’. Gusmin consequently retired to a hermitage where he led a saintly life, painting and teaching young artists. Although it is clear from his account that Ghiberti never knew the master or saw any of his original works, he stated that he had seen casts of his sculptures, which, he said, were as fine as the work of the ancient Greeks, although the figures were rather short. There have been numerous attempts to identify Gusmin with artists, both German and Italian, fitting the account of Ghiberti and the Anonimo Magliabecchiano. Swarzenski first named Gusmin as the author of the alabaster Rimini altar (Frankfurt am Main, Liebieghaus), but this has now been demonstrated to be of Netherlandish workmanship. Krautheimer proposed a convincing reconstruction of Gusmin’s career, suggesting that his Angevin patron was ...



Harriet Sonne de Torrens

Mainland peninsula of modern-day Denmark and one of the three provinces (Jutland, Zealand and Skåne, southern Sweden) that constituted medieval Denmark. The conversion of the Danes to Christianity initiated a reorganization of the economic, social and legal structures of Denmark that would change the shape of Jutland dramatically between the 11th and 14th centuries. Under Knut the Great, King of Denmark and England (reg 1019–35), Jutland acquired a stable diocesan system (1060) that enabled a systematic collection of tithes and the growth of religious institutions between 1050 and 1250. During this period, agricultural practices changed as manor houses and landed estates were established, producing wealth for the ruling families. Under Valdemar I (reg 1157–82) and Knut VI (reg 1182–1202), Jutland witnessed a great building activity; on Jutland more than 700 stone churches were constructed, some replacing earlier wooden churches, each needing liturgical furnishings. Workshops, such as that of the renowned sculptor Horder and many others, were actively engaged in carving stone baptismal fonts (e.g. Malt, Skodborg, Ut, Stenild), capitals, reliefs (Vestervig, Aalborg) and tympana (Gjøl, Ørsted, Stjaer, Skibet), wooden cult figures, Jutland’s golden altars (Lisbjerg, Sahl, Stadil, Tamdrup) and wall paintings. Evidence of the earliest wall paintings in Jutland, ...


Hungarian family of sculptors and bronze-casters. The only sources for the activity (before 1372 to 1390) of Martin [Martón] and George [György] Kolozsvár are the unreliable inscriptions on copies of their mostly lost works. Their names are always given in the same order, which may either be a mark of seniority or reflect their perceived artistic ranking. One may have specialized in modelling, the other in casting. The 17th-century copies of the full-size statues (originals destr. 1660) of the canonized Hungarian kings Stephen, Emeric and László from the cathedral of Nagyvárad (now Oradea, Romania) were inscribed per Martinum et Georgium filios magistri Nicolai pictoris de Colosvar. This inscription, now lost, gives the most detailed information; the accompanying date, although this may well have been false, has been variously read as 1364, 1366 or 1371, indicating that the figures were cast during the reign of King Louis I (...


Josep Bracons i Clapés

(fl 1358; d before 1388).

Catalan sculptor and goldsmith. He is first documented in 1358 in Barcelona, where he executed some wooden sculptures (untraced). A wooden Virgin and Child in the church of La Merced, Barcelona, has been attributed to him and linked to a commission for this church in 1361. In 1366 Moragues received a royal commission to make seven stone crosses (destr.) for the monastery of Montserrat, near Barcelona; he was still working for Montserrat in 1373. In 1379 he was in Saragossa where he made his most important work in sculpture, the tomb of Archbishop Lope Fernández de Luna in the Capilla de S Miguel of the cathedral. Executed during the Archbishop’s lifetime, the tomb was probably completed c. 1382, the year in which King Peter IV commissioned him to make tombs for several members of his family in S Francisco, Saragossa (destr.). The tombs of Ramón Serra el Vell in S María, Cervera, and ...


Paul Binski

[Ger.: ‘troughfold style’]

Term used to describe a convention of drapery representation in the figurative arts in north-western Europe between c. 1180 and c. 1240. It was typical of metalwork, sculpture, and painting executed in the region between the River Meuse and the Ile-de-France and is one of the most distinctive features of art of the so-called Transitional period between Romanesque and Gothic (see Transitional style). In this style cloth hangs around figures in deep looped troughs, clinging to limbs but also partially concealing them. The emergence of the style coincided with a renewed interest in antique forms, displacing the more abstract linear conventions of the Byzantine ‘dampfold’ styles of the mid-12th century (see Romanesque, §IV, 2). Although this new tendency towards rounder, more sculptural forms was widespread in north-western Europe towards and around 1200, the occurrence of true Muldenfaltenstil work was geographically more restricted. It appears not to have occurred in England, for example....



Gordon Campbell

In the church, the vessel in which the host or consecrated bread of the sacrament is reserved for later use (e.g. being carried in procession or to a sickbed). It derives from the ancient Greek pyxis (pl. pyxides), a vessel made of boxwood (Gr. pyxos) and used to contain cosmetics, oils, and perfumes. The pyx has been used by the church since the fourth century. Early pyxides were usually made of ivory: the British Museum has two 6th-century ivory Byzantine pyxides (one carved with pastoral scenes and the other portraying St Menas) and a 9th-century ivory pyx (the only surviving Carolingian pyx) from Aachen depicting Jesus casting out devils from a possessed man. Pyxides began to appear in Western churches in the 12th century. Early examples are ivory, but by the 13th century champlevé enamel pyxides were being manufactured in Limoges (e.g. London, V&A). Later pyxides were made of silver (e.g. Catalonian pyx of ...



Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. Ravello has been documented as an urban centre since the 10th century and as a bishopric since 1087. The centre, near the Toro quarter, is high up between the two rivers that separate the city from Scala and Minori. The city’s fortifications were damaged and the city itself was sacked by a Pisan assault in 1135 and in 1137. At the end of the 14th century, its inhabitants also clashed with the neighbouring city of Scala. In the 13th century a mercantile oligarchy with power throughout all of Sicily and close relations to the Crown took control of the city, celebrated in Boccaccio’s Decameron (II.4), and enriched it with numerous monuments and artworks.

The cathedral, dedicated to S Pantaleone, dates to 1087 but was extensively altered in the late 18th century. The cathedral has three naves and the façade has three portals—the central one has a bronze door (...


Elizabeth B. Smith

Italian Benedictine abbey in the Abruzzo region. Founded in the 9th century by Emperor Louis the Pious (reg 814–40) and dedicated to St Clement I, whose relics it claimed, the abbey flourished under Abbot Leonate (reg 1155–82), a member of the papal curia. Leonate began an ambitious rebuilding project starting with a new façade, complete with rose window, and a portico for the church, both of which were decorated with monumental stone sculpture carved by masters who were probably not local but rather of French or north Italian origin, perhaps on their way to or from the Holy Land. An elaborately carved pulpit and paschal candelabrum also date to the time of Leonate, as does the Chronicon Casauriense (Paris, Bib. N., MS. lat. 5411), a compilation of documents pertinent to the abbey combined with a history of its existence up to the time of Leonate’s death. Although Leonate died before completing his rebuilding programme, his successor Joel installed the bronze doors still on the central portal of the façade. Construction continued on the church in the early 13th century....



Antonio Milone

Italian cathedral city in the province of Salerno, Campania. According to the 10th-century Chronicon Salernitanum, where it is referred to as Cama, Scala is the oldest centre along the entire Amalfi coast and has its origins in Late Antiquity. However, documentary proof that the city existed is only available from the beginning of the 10th century. Throughout history it has been home to a commercial aristocracy with commercial and political power throughout the entire Kingdom of Sicily. The Sasso and d’Afflitto families stood out from others in this group. Monasteries have been recorded in the city from the 10th century and it was under the control of the Duchy of Amalfi for the entire medieval period.

The settlement is characterized by numerous villages, such as Pontone and Minuta, which are found high up in the mountains behind Amalfi as well as in front of Ravello . Although the city is defended by a series of fortifications, it was damaged and sacked by a Pisan assault in ...


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....


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 (...