Anglo-Saxon round fibula from the Kingtson Find. 7th c. A.D. (Liverpool Mus.) 3.25 in. Gold cloisonné with garnet and gemstone inlays. The round fibula is a late Roman motif. The original art of the Germanic people was abstract, decorative, and geometric. It as confined to small portable items like weapons, jewelry, and belt buckles. Fibulas (shoulder pins) were often decorated with precious metals and inlaid stones. The entire surface is covered in decorative patterns, reflecting horro vacui or need to fill the entire space. The patterns reflect the shape and surface of the object they adorn, which helps emphasize the form of the piece. Frankish looped fibula. 6-7th century Migration Period: invasions into Roman Territory by “barbarian tribes” looking for a place to settle. (Goths, Vandals, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, etc.)
animal-style themes The animal style is the artwork created by Northern nomadic peoples of ancient and medieval Europe. Since they had always been nomadic people, their art was focused on things that they could carry, and were generally functional objects. The art forms, which ranges from personal adornment items, weapons and horse trappings, were miniature in size to suit their migratory way of life. The style is characterized by active, intertwining shapes, often depicting wild animals in combat. The animal style rarely depicts human being. The art forms were crafted with great craftsmanship and mostly were made from metals (gold and bronze). Pectoral, 4c.BCE, gold, 12"W., Kiev, Historical Museum SCYTHIANS were members of a nomadic people speaking an Iranian language, who immigrated from Central Asia to Southern Russian in the 8th - 7th centuries BC. These fierce warriors lived in the saddle and traveled light. At the same time, oddly enough, they were among the ancient world's most extravagant art patrons. The contact with the Middle East with its predominant use of the animal form and the subsequent contact with “barbarian” tribes, the animal style is transmitted. This necklace has 48 different figures that are cast separately in gold and soldered to the frame.
Sutton Hoo is one of Britain's most important archaeological sites, ranking in significance with Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The burial ground of the Anglo-Saxon pagan kings of East Anglia, Sutton Hoo is the site of one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries ever made in England. In 1939 archaeologists unearthed an astonishing Anglo-Saxon ship burial in Woodbridge, Suffolk; astonishing both for the state of preservation of the objects within the tomb, but also astonishing for the sheer rich quality of the artifacts. The burial goods from Sutton Hoo are remarkable - gold weapons and armour, inlaid ornaments, silver and tableware. Archaeologists have reconstructed how the burial at Sutton Hoo must have taken place. A long trench was dug atop a 100 ft. high cliff above the river Deben. The ship was dragged up from the river and set in the trench. A hut was built in the centre of the ship, and there was placed a large coffin and the grave goods. The trench was then filled in and a large mound erected over the top. When the ship was uncovered the timbers had rotted away. However, the rivets still remained, and the rotting timbers had stained the sand, so the pattern of boat construction could be determined, and a good picture of the boat emerged. It was about 90 feet long and 14 feet wide, with a high bow and stern. It is easily the largest Anglo-Saxon ship ever discovered. Possible occupant — Raedwald, King of the East Angles, died c. 624/5 "They laid then the beloved chieftain, giver of rings, on the ship's bosom, glorious by the mast. There were brought many treasures, ornaments from far-off lands. Never have I heard that a vessel was more fairly fitted-out with war-weapons and battle-raiment, swords and coats of mail. On his bosom lay a host of treasures, where were to travel far with him into the power of the flood." Beowulf
The importance of Sutton Hoo cannot be overstated. From the grave goods we can learn a lot about the pattern of life in this darkest part of the Dark Ages in Britain. Even the style of the craftsmanship lets us draw conclusions about how strong were Saxon connections with rest of Europe.
Purse lid from the ship-burial at Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon, early 7th century AD From Mound 1, Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, England Wealth, and its public display, were used to establish status in early Anglo-Saxon society much as it is today. The purse lid. was made to cover a leather pouch containing gold coins. It hung by three hinged straps from the waist belt, and was fastened by a gold buckle. The lid had totally decayed but was probably made of whale-bone ivory - a precious material in early Anglo-Saxon England. Seven gold, garnet cloisonné and millefiori glass plaques were set into it. These are made with a combination of very large garnets and small ones, deliberately used to pick out details of the imagery. This combination links the purse-lid and the shoulder-clasps to the workshop of a single master craftsman, who may well have made the entire suite of gold and garnet fittings as a royal commission. The plaques include twinned images of a man standing heroically between two wolves and an eagle swooping on its prey. These images must have had deep significance for the king and his subjects, but it is impossible for us to interpret them. The wolves could be a reference to the dynastic name of the family buried at Sutton Hoo - the Wuffingas (Wolf's People). Like the eagle, they are a powerful evocation of strength and courage, qualities that a successful leader of men must possess. Cloisonné = a process of enameling using cloisons- a cell that holds enamel or other decorative materials. animal-style themes
Animal head (wood), ca. 825 A.D. From Oseburg, Ship Burial. Oslo, University Museum. The Oseberg Ship is believed to be the burial ship of the great Viking Queen Asa. It was found in 1903 in a burial mound on the south western coast of Norway. The ship was excavated in 1904 , preserved and now is housed fully intact in the Viking Ship Museum at Bygdo outside of Oslo, Norway. It kept an oaken ship fully laden with a four wheel cart, four sledges, horse gear, chests, textiles, tools and equipment for agriculture and needlework, a tent, beds, as well as much more. Oseberg is neither a freight ship or a warship, but a private yacht made for coastal cruising. This doesn't mean that the ship wasn't seaworthy at open sea, but merely that this wasn't the main purpose with the ship when they built it. It is obviously made for someone very important, because the profile and decorations are surely meant to show off. Viking Art The ship itself is also ornate, with a wide band of animal interlace roiling up the keel and the prow (which terminate in a coiling snake both fore and aft. Other elaborate ship's prows have also been found, terminating in a large animal head, snarling, toothy and wide-eyed. Thus the ships themselves were animated living beings, dragons that could metaphorically fly through the water (or to the other world), and quite likely terrify all that encountered it. Further, the surface of these alarming beings are covered with yet more creatures, elongated to ribbons and freely woven together.
Very important individuals in the Viking society were given an honorary funeral ceremony in which many members of the immediate community participated or attended. Many items were placed in the burial of these individuals including clothing, food, drink, household items, animal sacrifices, and women, either a spouse or a servant woman (Margeson 54). The Angel of Death was in charge of all of the funeral preparations and practices (Jones 427). She kills all of the sarifices, including huamns that were often other women in the community, and she was usually a woman that was of great significance, through her older age and larger experiences, in the community (Jones 427). This woman held a significant power in the community because she was responsible for the proper burial procedures, through traditional ritual and ceremony, of all of the Viking people within the community. She held all of the power to carry out the procedures for burial of all people in her hands and her words were wisdom to the people that the deceased person left behind on earth. After the ceremony was concluded, either the ship was covered in a mound of earth or the entire funeral pyre was lit on fire by the Angel of Death, herself (Margeson 54).
Close-up of the wood carvings of the northern portal. Church of Urnes The Norse stave church was built out of wedge shaped vertical timbers called “staves.” The woodcarver was given a wonderful medium to show the rhythmic Norse animal style. Animal forms entwine around stalks and flowing leaf tendrils. The design is intricate as it the animal-interlace takes form .
Illuminated manuscripts are hand-produced books that include drawn, painted, and gilded decoration on pages made of vellum, a specially prepared and polished animal skin. The simplest manuscripts are adorned with calligraphic pen work dividing one paragraph of text from another. More lavish examples are embellished with enlarged initials, and enlarged and colorful letters that contain tiny representations of figures or biblical scenes. The brilliant pictures that illustrate and accompany the texts in a manuscript are called miniatures , not only because they are small, but because the Latin word miniare (to color with red lead) has been used since the Middle Ages to describe these illustrations . The miniatures seen here are painted in luminous colors and often have gold highlights or backgrounds that shimmer in the light. When a miniature contains gold or silver, it is considered to be illuminated. Important divisions in the text of an illuminated manuscript are sometimes decorated with a series of miniatures depicting traditional religious subjects. Some miniatures share the page with text; others fill the page and are surrounded by elaborate borders. A particular pleasure of the close scrutiny of manuscripts is the discovery of tiny figures and whimsical creatures hidden in the marginal decoration. Many different artists and craftsmen were needed to produce each manuscript, including a parchmenter to prepare the vellum, a scribe to copy the text, a rubricator and an illuminator to decorate the manuscript, and a bookbinder to bind the sections together. Historically, illuminated manuscripts were produced by monks in monasteries . Beginning in the thirteenth century, an increasing number were created by professional artisans working in commercial centers across Europe.
Hiberno-Saxon Art Ornamental page from the Book of Lindisfarne , from Northumberland, England, late 7th century. The Lindisfarne Gospels was created in the early eighth century CE for ceremonial use at the monastery of Lindisfarne in the northeast of England. The manuscript's main text, which was written out by a single scribe. The Gospels contains 15 elaborate fully decorated pages, featuring ornament of extraordinary intricacy. Astoundingly complex patterns are plaited and knotted across these pages and intertwined with fanciful birds and animals. At the start of each of the Gospels is an illustration of its author with his symbol, and throughout the text pages of the manuscript are numerous decorated initials. The monks carried with them an ancient Celtic decorative tradition of curvilinear forms--scrolls, spirals, and a double curve, -that were integrated with the abstract ornamentation of the native pagan Anglo-Saxon metalwork tradition, characterized particularly by rich, bright coloring and zoomorphic ( abstract animal) interlace patterns. The characteristics of Hiberno-Saxon art, however, remained basically those of pagan art: concern for geometric design rather than naturalistic representation, love of flat areas of color, and the use of complicated interlace patterns. The cross is variant of the Celtic cross.
Codex Aminatinus, early 8th century, Italy The Scribe Ezra Rewriting the Sacred Records St. Matthew, from the Book of , England, eighth century We can see in these illustrations the scribe Ezra and St. Matthew from the Lindisfarne Gospels, both done in the 8th century. Note the awkward perspective of the bench and the book. Medieval artists were also much more interested in spiritual allegory than realism; their work was didactic, in other words meant to teach a spiritual lesson rather than provide an accurate portrayal of nature. In the case of St. Matthew, we see here the angel above announcing with his horn the divine visitation in which St. Matthew received the gospel from Christ. Artists were also seen primarily as menial crafts persons, so we do not know for certain who illustrated these images. The contrast in styles is striking. The Scribe Ezra reflects an artist with Italian training who copied the image from the Codex Grandior of Cassiadorus. The same source must have been seen by an artist trained in the Hiberno-Saxom manner in the St. Matthew illustration. The medieval artist did not go to nature for models but copied another image or sculpture instead. Each copy may be part of a long lines of copies. These copies, although intended to be faithful copies of text and illusration, often yield different pictorial styles. A famous and dramatic example of the different responses to the competing traditions…..
Moses smites water David and Goiliath High Cross of Muiredach , Monasterboice, Ireland, 923 (Early Medieval) Found all over Ireland, these "markers" of Christian territory sometimes tell Christian stories in a flat, airless style, or are covered with all-over pattern.
The Book of Kells The Book of Kells is not simply a religious manuscript. True, it contains the four gospels of Mark, Mathew, Luke and John and that was the sole original purpose of the book. But its age and its design, although damaged, allow us a glorious glimpse into the art and style of ancient Ireland. The book is, quite simply, considered a crowning glory of the Celtic art form, and possibly one of the most important treasures of Western Europe. Experts are uncertain where the Book of Kells was first begun, but evidence points to the Isle of Iona, which was the center of St. Columba's influence and the home of his church. Later, during the Viking raids of the 9th century, it was moved for its protection to Kells Monastery, County Meath, Ireland. Here it remained for almost two hundred years, until it was stolen in 1007. Its golden cover, which was probably encrusted with gems, was ripped from the book, and the remainder was thrown in a ditch. The book was soon recovered, but not before it received some water damage to the front and back pages. Unfortunately, its cover was forever lost. Over the years, approximately 30 of its pages have been lost, the remaining 340 contains the four gospels, a list of Hebrew names, and the Eusebian cannons. But these are not the hallmarks of the book, as it is the artwork contained on the remaining leaves of calfskin pages that are its major achievement. The book is resplendent with artwork, covering almost all the styles known at the time. It is estimated that this artwork took a team of illustrators thirty years to complete. All of it meticulously done by hand and in amazing intricacy and color. The most resplendent of the pages open the four chapters with illustrations of the saints along with individual pages that depict events in the life of Christ.
Charlemagne had built a vast and sprawling state that shared borders with such different peoples as the Slavs, Byzantines, and Moslems. He defended the Roman Catholic Church and constantly extended its power. He was far more powerful than the imperial successors of Constantine, the first Christian emperor in the West, and he ruled a much more extensive area. Because of his great holdings, he decided to revive the Roman Empire, but as a new empire that was European and Christian in character . The relations of the popes with the Byzantine, or Eastern Roman, emperors in Constantinople had been breaking down since the middle 700's. An alliance between the Roman Catholic Church and the Franks, accomplished by proclaiming Charlemagne emperor, made good sense. Pope Leo III placed the imperial crown on Charlemagne's head on Christmas Day, 800. The most important effect of this act was that it revived the idea of empire in the West, an idea which caused both harm and good in succeeding centuries. Charlemagne's dream of a revival of the Roman Empire in the West determined both his political aims and his artistic program. His strong patronage of the arts gave impetus to a remarkable return to Roman classicism in the copying of Early Christian models and the influence of contemporary Byzantine and Greco-Roman styles, although the classicism was modified by local traditions favoring linearity and patterning and by Carolingian innovations. Thus the Carolingian Renaissance was really a renovation rather than a true rebirth of classicism. It was, nevertheless, important for having revived the antique heritage in the West and for transmitting that interest to subsequent art. By the death of Charlemagne, the style was well defined, and even though local schools became more independent as the central authority of the empire weakened, the line of development continued until the chaotic late 9th century. The Carolingian
Portrait of Menander, c. 70 A.D. Wall painting. House of Menander, Pompeii.
St. Matthew from the Ebbo Gospels, c. 816 - 835 A.D. France
What makes them most interesting is that they are of the same subject--St. Matthew at work writing his best-selling gospel. The older of these paintings is from Charlemagne's Coronation Gospels . The "newer" is from The Gospel Book of Archbishop Ebbo of Reims . Both are from what art historians call the Carolingian era (pronounced Caro-LIN-ian). Though from the same era, this is largely where their similarities end. The figure from the Coronation Gospel is shown seated in profile before a tilted writing desk, done in a classical painting style, wearing flowing Roman dress. A large golden halo disk surrounds his head in what could also pass for the sun about to set in the distant landscape. The figure seems relaxed and to be drawing from within himself in recording holy writ. The figure of St. Matthew from the Ebbo Book seems somewhat influenced by the slightly earlier work in terms of the pose, but the style is totally different--heavily based upon Romanesque art. The figure seems to be taking dictation from a tiny angel in the upper right corner of the painting. His face is distorted, his body and hands cramped unnaturally. The effect is almost humorous, as if he could barely keep up with the words of God being passed down to him. Unlike the earlier work, his hair is disheveled, and his white garment is not flowing but gossamer thin and extremely wrinkled. The color is different too--unnatural, dominated by various shades of sienas and umbers. The result is an emotionally charged, dramatic air of frantic energy.
St. Matthew from the Coronation Gospel Book of Charlemagne, c. 800 - 10 A.D. Ink and colors on vellum, 13 X 10".
The art and architecture of the Carolingian period is based on Roman models. Torhalle of Lorsch possibly built as a gatehouse; free-standing triple arch in front courtyard of church, calling to mind late Roman triumphal arches like Arch of Constantine at Rome . Same type , but style is different Note: classical decoration, painted interior. Equestrian Statuette of Charlemagne From the treasury of Metz Cathedral 9th century, Bronze with traces of gilding Inspired by classical equestrian statues, this statuette is made up of several bronze units that were cast separately and then assembled. The sovereign, who is crowned, holds the orb of the world. His plump face with its thick drooping moustache, and his simple attire, correspond to Eginhard's description of Charlemagne. The statuette may have been cast in Aix-la-Chapelle in the early 9th century.
The Palatine Chapel, built about 796-805 at Charlemagne's palace in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), is the preeminent surviving Carolingian structure. Charlemagne, who considered himself to be heir to the Roman Emperors, was crowned Emperor of the West in A.D. 800 in Rome after having conquered a vast empire. This empire spread from the Spanish March to the North sea and the Rhine and rallied the French provinces under his authority. He chose Aix-la-Chapelle as his main residence and as his imperial seat. This is where he had his palace built along with its church, the Palatine Chapel. his chapel, whose architecture is inspired by that of the churches of the Roman Emperors in Constantinople and Northern Italy came to be the architectural reference for the Ottonian Emperors of the 10th and the beginning of the11th centuries. A domed, double-shelled, two-storied octagon, it presents a type reminiscent of Early Christian and Byzantine architecture. Indeed, it is generally accepted that the Palatine Chapel was modeled closely after S. Vitale in Ravenna and was perceived as an antique revival. The Palatine Chapel, 796-805 at Charlemagne's palace in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle
It was designed by Odo of Metz, who modeled it after the Byzantine-style church of San Vitale (consecrated 547) in Ravenna, Italy. The most important surviving examples of Carolingian architecture are exhibited in the chapel. Its octagonal, domed central area (the Octagon) is surrounded by a tall (two-story), 16-sided ambulatory. Adjacent to the Octagon is the West Hall, with its formerly open-air atrium. Also notable are the imperial box on the upper floor and the winding staircases that lead up to the twin towers. The cupola crowning the chapel's dome rises to a height of 101.5 feet (30.9 metres). For centuries the chapel had the highest vaulted interior in northern Europe.
After Charlemagne, the aforementioned King of the Franks died. His empire lasted less than 30 years. After his son, Louis the Pious died, the Carolingian Empire had to be divided among Louis's sons. However, the sons were not exactly cooperative. Many bloody battles took place between Charles the Bald, Lothair, and Louis the German. Finally, a treaty partitioning the Frankish lands into western, central, and eastern areas was signed in 843. The empire was thus broken up into smaller, weaker kingdoms, and a time of darkness and uncertainty was introduced into Europe. It remained this way until the middle of the tenth century, at which time the eastern region of the former empire came together under a new ruler. This ruler was Emperor Otto. He was the first of a new Saxon line of German emperors named after their three most flamboyant family members, the Ottonians. Emperor Otto had been crowned by the Pope in 962, and he, as well as Emperor Otto II and Emperor Otto III, successfully fought invaders from the East and were victorious against the Vikings as well. Triumphant, the Ottonian emperors not only had preserved Carolingian culture and traditions, but they had also enriched them.
It would be inappropriate to speak of Ottonian Art without mentioning one of its greatest patrons, Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim, Germany. Not only did he serve as tutor to Otto III, but he was also the builder of the abbey monastery church of Saint Michael's at Hildesheim. Bernward was skilled in affairs of state, an eager scholar, a lover of the arts, a very talented craftsman, and a bronze caster. Taking into consideration his apparent eagerness for learning, it is no wonder that he made Hildesheim a center of education. While staying as a guest at the home of Otto III, he studied monuments of the old empire the Carolingian and Ottonian emperors had been interested in reviving. This researching trip took place in 1001, and by 1031, Bernward's St.Michael's had been completed. Decorated with delicate bronze, St. Michael's is today hailed as an Ottonian masterpiece. The church boasts a double-transept plan, tower groupings, massive walls with occasional windows, and a westwork. Saint Michael’s has a double transept plan, with apses in both the east and the west, so that its entrances are along its side aisles. It is constructed on a modular system. The nine bays of the nave arcade are divided into three squares by white piers, separated by dark stone columns. Architects call this an alternate-support system . This was to later become a standard design element of many Romanesque churches in northern Europe. The transepts are essentially three bays of the same size each. On the interior this logical organization is fairly distinct. Though the predominant aspect of the interior is the flat, uninterrupted wall and the Arabic striping of the triumphal arches, in the manner of Cordoba and the Dome of the Rock. It is important to note that the church was to be entered from the side, creating basically two narthexes.
Carolingian. Monastery of St. Riquier, France, 800 AD
What is the basic plan type for St. Riquier? What is the term for the towered west end of the church?
During the aforementioned trip that Bernward made to the residence of Otto III, he stayed in Otto's palace on the Aventine hill in the Santa Sabina neighborhood. Santa Sabina was an Early Christian church famous for its intricately carved wooden doors. The doors were decorated with scenes from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. Some speculate that these grandiose doors influenced the design of the doors of St. Michael's. Bishop Bernward chose bronze as the material for his doors, and they were enormous. They are inscribed with the year 1015, and stand more than sixteen feet high. A very intensive process known as "lost-wax casting" was used to make the doors. The process includes two steps. The first step creates a clay mold, wax model, and clay core connected by chaplets. The second step melts out the wax, and molten bronze is poured into the mold. Each of these steps was done individually for each of the two doors. Most sculpture dating from late antiquity, along with Carolingian sculpture, was comprised of small-scale art created with ivory and precious metals. Therefore, the sixteen individual panels of the doors of St. Michael's can be compared to the covers of early Carolingian and Ottonian books.
Once completed, the left door of St. Michael's depicted scenes from Genesis, and the left door showed episodes from the life of Christ. To be more precise, the left door panels begin with the creation of Adam, and end with the murder of Adam and Eve's son Abel by his brother, Cain. The right door starts with the Annunciation and ends with the appearance to Mary Magdalene of Christ after the Resurrection. Looking at the doors together, one sees that they are meant to tell the saga of Original Sin and ultimate redemption. This is illustrated by the expulsion from the Garden of Eden and the course back to Paradise through the Christian church. As was believed during Early Christian times, the Old Testament was viewed as prefiguring the New Testament. There is a very particular, fascinating juxtaposition between the two doors as well. For example, the Crucifixion on one door is next to the Fall of Adam and Eve on the opposing door. Likewise, Eve nursing the infant Cain is across from Mary with the Christ Child in her lap. Adam and Eve, bronze door, St. Michael’s, Hildesheim
The tradition began by the Carolingians of creating sumptuous books for the clergy and royalty was carried on by the Ottonians. The Lectionary of Henry II is considered one of the best. Henry II was the cousin of Otto III and succeeded him as emperor. The book was Henry II's gift to Bamberg Cathedral. Looking at one of the pages, the one depicting the Annunciation of Christ's birth to the shepherds, there is noted a very active scene. The angel's wings are still in movement, and his draperies are still fluttering. . It is not quite as dynamic as the marble "Nike of Samothrace" from Hellenistic times, but it still has some of the same classical qualities. For example, the page shows a rocky landscape with grazing animals. The characters depicted in the pages of the Lectionary of Henry II do not have a smoothness of movement about them. They have a certain abrupt jerkiness that is not natural. However, their facial expressions are very telling. Their bodies seem to be incredibly geometric, almost cubist in nature. It is almost as if each character could be reduced to an assimilation of circles, squares, and triangles.
The Gospel Book of Otto III is another good text to examine. One particular page from this book very closely outlined the current state of affairs, and also speculated the future. Otto III was obsessed with reviving the Christian Roman Empire. His mother being a Byzantine princess, he knew that he had both Eastern and Western imperial lines. Thus, he moved his court to Rome and set it up with decorations characteristic of Roman imperialism. However, his dream of reviving Rome was never realized, as he died early at the age of twenty-one. The page shows Otto III enthroned, holding both a scepter and an orb. These two things were to represent his universal authority. Flanking him are the clergy and barons, representing the Christian church and the state, both supporting him. On the opposing page, there are female personifications of Slavinia, Germany, Gaul, and Rome, the provinces of the Ottonian Empire. Obviously, these pages were trying to establish a sort of world sovereignty.