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Margaret Lyttleton

Columnar niche or shrine applied decoratively to a larger building. The word is a diminutive from the Latin word aedes (‘temple’). Summerson traced its application to Gothic architecture and drew attention to the importance of playing at being in a house for all small children; he claimed that this kind of play has much to do with the aesthetics of architecture and leads ultimately to the use of the aedicula. The earliest surviving examples of aediculae are shop-signs from Pompeii, such as that showing Mercury or Hermes emerging from a small building. Later aediculae appear extensively in wall paintings of the Fourth Style (c. ad 20–c. 90; see Rome, ancient §V 2.). Later still, aediculae were often used in the architecture of the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire; they consisted of columns or pilasters flanking a niche for statuary, with a pediment above, as in the stage-building of the theatre at ...



Freda Anderson

Ornamental device used extensively in the Romanesque period, particularly in the 12th century. It is formed of small blocks, either flat and square or cylindrical, spaced out in horizontal bands (see fig.). Billets in a single band occur frequently (e.g. the nave string course at Ely Cathedral; early 12th century), but are found less often in double bands (e.g. an impost in the crypt of Worcester Cathedral; from 1084). Their most common arrangement is in three bands: the blocks in the two lower bands are placed under the voids in the band above to give a chequerboard effect (e.g. the interior east windows of Paray-le-Monial Priory, France). Where there are more than three bands (e.g. the north portal of Charlieu Priory, France) the billets are tiny. Occasionally, as in the north portal of Fontgombault Abbey, billets are placed without voids, side by side.

Examples of billet ornament survive from the 6th century ...



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 ...


Phillip Lindley

Manager of the royal building works in later medieval England (see also Office of Works). In the 12th century royal building operations were usually initiated by a writ from the king to the sheriff of the county in which work was to be carried out, the sheriff bringing the writs to the Exchequer at Michaelmas as authority for his expenditure. Viewers also attended in order to verify the expenditure. During the 13th century, as financial control was progressively removed from the hands of the sheriff, individuals who supervised specific works as ‘keepers of the works’ (custodes operacionum) became increasingly common. By Henry III’s minority (1216–27), the keepers of major building operations generally submitted their accounts in writing. Under the reform of the Exchequer in 1236–7 a regulation required all works accounts to be audited by means of written accounts, and by the end of Henry’s reign rolls of particular expenses were being presented by sheriffs as well as keepers of works. Each passed account was usually enrolled, in a very condensed form, on the Pipe Roll. Although there is still evidence of major building operations for which no enrolled accounts were ever produced, the rendering of accounts in writing became increasingly common practice, and it was this reliance on the written record that necessitated the employment of paid officials as clerks of the works. In general, this move can be seen as part of the transition from an oral to a written culture. By the 14th century the management of the king’s works was entirely in the hands of professional clerks of the works, and the old title of ‘keepers of the works’ fell into disuse. The organization of the works increasingly tended towards specialization and centralization, with a separation of the administrative and technical sides....


Kathryn Morrison

[column figure]

Form of sculpture in which a column and a figure are carved from a single block of stone. It is distinct from the Classical Caryatid, which structurally replaces the column, or from figures carved into columnar shafts (e.g. the Puerta de las Platerías of Santiago de Compostela, c. 1110). Column statues first appeared on the embrasures of French portals in the middle of the 12th century and are regarded as the main feature that distinguishes Romanesque from Early Gothic sculptural ensembles.

The desire to depict large figures on doorposts and recessed doorway embrasures was manifest in the first half of the 12th century, for example at St Pierre, Moissac (c. 1125–30), where large standing figures were carved into the sides of the trumeau and the faces of the doorposts, or at Ferrara Cathedral (c. 1135), where figures were carved into the arrises of the embrasures. Meanwhile, column statues may have appeared in cloisters or church furnishings. Three marble column statues from ...


A. Wallert

Medieval treatise containing a collection of chemical recipes, with descriptions on the preparation and application of pigments and dyes. It is a parchment codex written by different hands in the late 8th or early 9th century. The manuscript (Lucca, Bib. Capitolare, Cod. 490) is sometimes called the ‘Lucca manuscript’ but is better known as Compositiones ad tingenda, from the title of its first publication by Muratori, or Compositiones variae. The Compositiones is not a systematically organized treatise. It contains instructions for different craft practices in 157 recipes. Its subjects include the coloration of artificial stone for making mosaics; dyeing of skins, textiles, and other materials; the making of various chemical substances; and metallurgical operations.

The Compositiones has descriptions that make it of extreme interest for the history of painting techniques. It contains recipes for the preparation of mineral pigments and organic colorants and for gilding and gold inks. It has the first description of the making of ...



John Thomas

[Fr. croc, crochet: ‘hook’]

Decorative device used in Gothic art and architecture, attached to a capital or a gable, an arch, piece of tracery or coping. The term was used in medieval England in the forms crockytt and crockett. English writers of the Gothic Revival period, however, suggested a connection with the crook, noting that some of the earliest English examples take the form of the pastoral crosier, but this is probably a misinterpretation.

Crocket capitals developed during the period of transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture from the mid-12th century, with small curled, twisted fronds of vegetation projecting from the body of the capital, in a form suggesting the much older use of curved floral decoration in the Corinthian order (see Orders, architectural, §I, 1, (iii)). After c. 1250 the crocket emerged as a curve of foliage that twisted or hooked back, turning the opposite way to the arch or gable out of which it rose, reminding Gwilt of ‘the buds and boughs of trees in the spring season’. In the course of its development, the crocket lost its hook-shape and began to curve upwards rather than downwards, becoming richer and more florid. Thus after ...



Stephen Heywood

Subsidiary vaulted room normally below the main floor level but not necessarily wholly subterranean. The term is normally used of church architecture. Crypts are found throughout western Europe, until the 11th century associated with funerary rites and in particular with the cult of relics, simulating the form of a tomb if not an actual one. In some instances, churches were built around the existing tomb of a saint or a holy place. The most important example of this is the Anastasis Rotunda on Golgotha built by Constantine the Great around the tomb of Christ, now the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (see Jerusalem, §II, 2). The function of early crypts was to keep relics secure and to allow the circulation of pilgrims. As the cult of relics and its liturgical implications grew, the crypt tended to lose its specific function as reliquary. Nevertheless crypts continued to be built, simply providing extra space for altars and chapels. Their size increased, and in some cases they lay beneath the entire eastern arm of a major church, for example Archbishop ...





Nigel J. Morgan

Two wood, ivory, or metal panels of equal size, usually hinged together so that they can be folded, and closed with some form of clasp. There are usually images on the inside surfaces of the panels and sometimes also on the outer sides. The panels are most commonly vertical rectangles; Gothic examples often have gables, while those from the 15th century may be round-headed.

The diptych as a work of art seems to have originated in Late Antique ivory-carving as a luxury form of writing tablet. These ivories have carved images on the exterior faces, while a sunken field inside could be filled with wax for writing on with a stylus. Such objects commonly functioned as gifts from the imperial consuls at the beginning of their term of office. They were carved with an image of either the consul or the ruling emperor, seated or standing in an attitude of authority and sometimes presiding over such activities as wild beast fights. These ...


[encaustic brick.]

A complex form of terracotta, where different coloured clays are fired together. This usually involves creating a design by inlaying a light coloured clay within a darker terracotta tile. Encaustic tiles were widely used in the medieval period to pave church floors, while the restoration of such churches in the 19th century, together with the creation of buildings in the Gothic Revival style, led to a resurgence in their use...


Lisa A. Reilly

[Lat. gargulio: ‘throat’]

Projection from the roof, parapet, or buttress of a building that acts as a water-spout, throwing rainwater clear of the wall to prevent damage to the structure. Gargoyles are a particular feature of European Gothic architecture, Gothic Revival buildings and restorations, and also occur in Chinese architecture.

Although best known in its European Gothic manifestations, the concept of a water-spout projecting from the roof line, as well as the decoration of that feature, originated considerably earlier. Examples have been cited at Abusir, Egypt, dating to the 5th Dynasty (c. 2465–c.. 2325 bc). In Greece the 7th-century bc wooden Temple of Apollo at Thermon featured terracotta spouts in the form of masks and lions’ heads (Thermon, Archaeol. Mus.). In such Roman buildings as the House of the Niobid, the water-spouts were more visually related to Gothic examples: dogs and lions in a crouching position formed the upper part of the gargoyle with water running out between their front paws through the spout below....



Daniel Rico

Spanish provincial capital, to the north of Saragossa in Aragón. Known in pre-Roman Iberia as Bolskan and as Osca under the Romans, it was the seat of the Quintus Sertorius government, a municipium (free town) since the time of Augustus and a bishopric under the Visigoths. During the period of Muslim domination from the 8th to the 11th centuries, the town, known as Wasqa, became a defensive settlement with a city wall stretching for more than 1.8 km, of which some sections still remain. Although the city was recovered by the Christians in 1096 and the episcopal see restored the following year, the architectural transformation of Huesca was not immediate. During the 12th century only two edifices of any real importance were constructed. One of these was the Benedictine monastery of S Pedro el Viejo, of which three Romanesque structures have survived: the church—a simple construction which nevertheless has two interesting tympana carved by sculptors from Jaca; a small chapel, possibly inherited from the Mozarab community in the 11th century, which was used as the Chapter House and then as a funeral chapel; and a cloister decorated around ...



Richard Temple

[Gr. eikon: ‘image’]

Wooden panel with a painting, usually in tempera, of a holy person or one of the traditional images of Orthodox Christianity (see fig.), the religion of the Byzantine empire practised today mainly in Greece and Russia (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI, and Post-Byzantine art, §II, 1). The word also has a range of related but disparate meanings, from the abstract and philosophical to the purely literal. For example, it is still used in modern Greek to mean an image or picture in the ordinary sense. In antiquity, Platonists and Neo-Platonists held that the material, earthly world reflects, or is the image of, the higher and divine cosmos; the Old Testament provides the theme of man as the icon of God in the temple of the world; and St Paul declared that ‘Christ is the icon of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus the idea of the icon is associated with cosmology and the theology of the Incarnation. In the Early Christian period, disputes over such questions as whether or not God can be known or depicted or the invisible can be seen were part of an intense debate surrounding the acceptability, meaning and function of images of Christ. All this was bound up with the complex questions of Christology that exercised the best minds of the period. Whole communities and nations were divided into Orthodox and heretics over the problem of defining the two natures of Christ, the relationship between his humanity and his divinity. The theory and belief system of icons was developed by theologians between the 4th and the 9th centuries, though only a few icons survive from then and up to the 12th century. Once established, however, the doctrinal principles never changed, and the study of icons is as much a matter of theology as of art. Subject-matter, form and composition did not deviate from the established dogma on which they depended; indeed, icons have been called theology in colour (Trubetskoy)....



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, ...


Francis Woodman

[Marian chapel]

A chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary in, or attached to, a larger church, particularly common in late medieval England. The cult of St Mary grew after her special status as Mother of God was formulated at the Council of Ephesos in ad 431. Churches were dedicated to her all over Christendom: S Maria Maggiore, Rome, as early as ad 432. In western Europe the Virgin was especially popular in the Carolingian period, following the gift of her Tunic to Chartres Cathedral by Emperor Charles the Bald in 876, and again from the 12th century, when there was a resurgence in Marian devotion, particularly among the monastic orders, notably the Cistercians. All Cistercian churches are dedicated to St Mary, as are many major non-monastic churches in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and France.

It is England, however, that is most associated with the concept of the separate Lady chapel, usually a distinct liturgical space emphasized by extra decoration. Why this should be is not entirely clear, as churches dedicated to the Virgin are as common in England as elsewhere: at the Reformation some ...


Lon R. Shelby

Book containing regulations for the masons’ craft (see Mason, §I). With the increasing literacy of masons in their own vernacular languages in late medieval Europe, books played a more prominent role in the craft. Well-known examples of books of regulations, ‘Articles and Points’, were developed by English and German masons, based on ‘customs of the masons’ that had been maintained in earlier centuries through oral traditions rather than in writing. Two English versions of the ‘Articles and Points of Masonry’ have survived from the beginning of the 15th century (London, BL, Bibl. Reg. 17 A1; London, BL, Add. MS. 23198), but these were not the first such written ‘custumals’, for the second version (the Cooke MS.) refers to ‘old books of masonry’ and ‘the book of charges’ that had been ‘written in Latin and in French both’.

The English Articles and Points do not stipulate that these written regulations were to be kept in a book in the masons’ ...





Ulrich Kuder, Carola Hicks, Matthias Exner, Florentine Mütherich, G. Reinheckel and Charles T. Little

Term used to describe the art produced in the Holy Roman Empire from c. ad 955 until the late 11th century.

The term is derived from the names of three successive German rulers from Saxony (see Saxony, House of family). Otto I the Great, who became king in 936, defeated the Hungarians at the battle of Lechfeld in 955 and extended his rule into Italy, being crowned emperor in 962. His son Otto II succeeded him as king in 961, and was crowned emperor in 973; Otto III, who succeeded as a minor in 983, was crowned emperor, after attaining his majority, in 996. For the purposes of art history the concept has been extended beyond Otto III’s death in 1002 to include the last Saxon ruler, Henry II (reg 1002–24) and the first Salians, Conrad II (reg 1024–39), Henry III (reg 1039–56; see Salian, House of family, §1...