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Article

Alexander Nagel

[Fr. postautel, retable; Ger. Altar, Altaraufsatz, Altarbild, Altarretabel, Altarrückwand, Retabel; It. ancona, dossale, pala (d’altare); Sp. retablo]

An image-bearing structure set on the rear part of the altar (see Altar, §II), abutting the back of the altarblock, or set behind the altar in such a way as to be visually joined with the altar when viewed from a distance. It is also sometimes called a retable, following the medieval term retrotabulum [retabulum, retrotabularium].

The altarpiece was never officially prescribed by the Church, but it did perform a prescribed function alternatively carried out by a simple inscription on the altarblock: to declare to which saint or mystery the altar was dedicated. In fact, the altarpiece did more than merely identify the altar; its form and content evoked the mystery or personage whose cult was celebrated at the altar. This original and lasting function influenced the many forms taken by the altarpiece throughout its history. Since the altarpiece was not prescribed by the Church, its form varied enormously. For this reason, it is often impossible, and historically inaccurate, to draw neat distinctions between the altarpiece and other elements occasionally associated with the altar apparatus. For example, movable statues, often of the Virgin and Child, were occasionally placed on altars according to ritual needs, and at those times fulfilled the function of the altarpiece....

Article

Jutland  

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, ...

Article

Hermann Maué

(b c. 1645; d Copenhagen, Jan 1, 1702).

Danish medallist, die-cutter and wax sculptor of German or Dutch origin. He probably learnt the trade of die-cutting in Copenhagen, where from 1667 onwards he worked for King Frederick III and King Christian V. In 1674 he moved to Stockholm and received a licence to produce medals, among which were several of Charles XI of Sweden and Queen Ulrike Eleonore. From 1674 to 1684 he was employed as a die-cutter at the Swedish Royal Mint, at the same time working as a goldsmith. In 1681 he accepted an invitation to the Mint in Paris, where he was given the title of Médailleur du Roi de France: he brought with him coining presses of his own invention. Meybusch returned to Stockholm in 1690 but moved back in that same year to Copenhagen, where in 1692 he received a post at the Danish court.

Forrer; Thieme–Becker L. O. Lagerquist and E. Nathorst-Böös...

Article

Glenny Alfsen

(b Kongsberg, July 3, 1820; d Christiania [now Oslo], May 5, 1886).

Norwegian sculptor. He worked first as an apprentice goldsmith in Christiania, and then studied under Herman Wilhelm Bissen from 1840 to 1851 at the Kunstakademi in Copenhagen. Here he adopted a conservative, late classical style, inspired by the art and literature of Denmark’s golden age. He lived in Rome between 1851 and 1860 and became familiar with the works of Classical and Renaissance masters. This experience increased his self-doubt, and he later became harshly self-critical. A font reflecting his admiration for Berthel Thorvaldsen is Middelthun’s only great work from this period (plaster, 1859; marble, 1865; Oslo, Trefoldighetskirken). He returned to Norway in 1860 and executed a series of busts, which established him as Norway’s leading portrait sculptor. His bust of the poet Johan Sebastian Welhaven (plaster, 1861; Oslo, Ubib.; marble, 1865; Oslo, N.G.), one of the most important examples of Norwegian portrait sculpture, is herm-like in form and, with its sense of classical balance and harmony, embodies the poet’s ideals. Middelthun’s later head-and-shoulders bust of the composer ...

Article

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....

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....