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Art and Culture - Module 06 - Medieval


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Sixth module for GNED 1201 (Aesthetic Experience and Ideas). This one covers the art and culture of that broad period of time known as the Medieval era, which in this course I am referring to the time of late antiquity (circa 500 CE) to the Late Middle Ages (circa 1400).

This course is a required general education course for all first-year students at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. My version of the course is structured as a kind of Art History and Culture course. Some of the content overlaps with my other Gen Ed course.

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Art and Culture - Module 06 - Medieval

  2. 2. Historical Context 1750 CE 1500 CE Renaissance Late Medieval 1250 CE 1000 CE High Medieval 750 CE Early Medieval (“dark ages”) 500 CE
  3. 3.
  4. 4. Example of typical medieval-era village
  5. 5.
  6. 6. Day in the life in a monastery: 2:00am – rise 2:10-3:30am – Matins (prayer) 3:30-5:00am – private reading 5am-5:45am – Lauds (prayer) 5:45-8:15am – private reading + short breakfast 8:15-2:30pm – work + short prayer breaks 2:30-3:15pm – dinner 3:15-4:15pm – reading 4:15-4:45pm – Vespers (prayer) 4:45-5:15pm – Compline (prayer) 5:15-6:00pm – prepare for sleep
  7. 7. High Middle Ages Monastery
  8. 8. Almost 500 years of time between when these two medieval plain chants were composed. Medieval aesthetics stayed quite stable for almost 1000 years!
  9. 9. Similarly, in the area of social relations, stability was the norm. The vast majority of Europeans worked agriculturally as serfs which meant they were obliged to work on the land. The vast majority of the agricultural output F d li was for the aristocratic lords who owned the land who provided military protection. The Catholic Church (or Orthodox Church in Feudalism eastern Europe) received money from the lords (or owned their own lands) and provided religious protection.
  10. 10. Limbourg Brothers, Book of Hours (1413-1416) -- Feb, March
  11. 11. Limbourg Brothers, Book of Hours (1413-1416) -- Sept
  12. 12. Europe circa 1200
  13. 13. Europe circa 1300
  14. 14. Interestingly, it was in the area of technology that the medieval world experienced more innovation.
  15. 15. Medieval World View At the center of medieval belief was the image of a perfect God and a wretched and sinful human being. God had given Adam and Eve freedom to choose; rebellious and presumptuous, they had used their freedom to disobey God. In doing so, they made evil an intrinsic part of the human personality. With God’s grace humans could overthrow their sinful nature and gain salvation; without grace they were utterly damned.
  16. 16. Confessions Augustine (354 – 430 CE) From Book 2, The Pear Tree “I will now call to mind my past foulness, and the carnal corruptions of my soul; not because I love them, but that I may love Thee, O my God. … Theft is punished by Thy law, O Lord, and the law written in the hearts of men, which iniquity itself effaces not. For what thief will abide a thief? not even a rich thief, one stealing through want. Yet I choose to steal, and not because want drove me to it … For I stole that, of which I had enough, and much better. Nor cared I to enjoy what I stole, but joyed in the theft and sin itself. A pear tree there was near our vineyard, laden with fruit, tempting neither for colour nor taste. To shake and rob this, some lewd young fellows of us went, late one night (having according to our pestilent custom prolonged our sports in the streets till then), and took huge loads, not for our eating, but to fling to the very hogs, having only tasted them. And this, but to do what we liked only, because it was misliked. Behold my heart, O God, behold my heart, which Thou hadst pity upon in the bottom of the bottomless pit.
  17. 17. Pope Innocent III, On the Misery of the Human Condition, c. 1200 What man does is depraved and illicit, is shameful and improper and vain. Man was formed of dust, slime, and ashes. He will become fuel for the eternal fires, food for worms, a mass of rottenness. Almost the whole life of mortals is full of moral sin, so that one can scarcely find anyone who does not go astray … In life man produces only dung and vomit; in death only rottenness and stench. … there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, there h ll b i ili h i ki d fl ili f shall be groaning, wailing, shrieking and flailing of arms and screaming, screeching, and shouting; there shall be fear and trembling, toil and trouble, holocaust and dreadful stench, and everywhere darkness and anguish; there shall be asperity, cruelty, calamity, poverty, distress, and utter wretchedness; they will feel an oblivion of loneliness; there shall be bitterness, terror and thirst …
  18. 18. Perverse men are thus sent down to Hell. They are tortured, burned in flames. And they tremble at the demons and groan perpetually Last Judgment, Sainte‐Foy, Conques. c. 1130.
  19. 19. And not so deadly sins poachers Bad musicians Satan pride lust greed sloth slander envy gluttony y The Deadly Sins
  20. 20. These types of images of salvation and damnation were very “popular”
  21. 21. A student’s day at University of Paris 4am – rise 5am – 6am –lecture 6-8am – mass + breakfast 8-10am – lectures 11-12pm – disputations 12-1pm – lunch 1-3pm – study with tutors 3-5pm – lectures 6pm – supper 7-9 – study with tutors 9pm – bed
  22. 22. Medieval Architecture The representative architecture was the church. Early churches were based on the older pre- Christian Roman Basilica (large public buildings typically used as law courts and places of business). Indeed, the word ““Basilica”” in the Christian era now means large church.
  23. 23. Roman Basilica Ulpia in Trajan’s Forum, ca 100 CE
  24. 24. Roman Basilica Ulpia in Trajan’s Forum, ca 100 CE. Notice the aisles of columns and the flat roof. Floor plan of basilica. Notice the curved alter area at each end.
  25. 25. The three earliest basilica churches in Rome constructed under C i Constantine (318-350 CE) were the original St. Peters (torn down in 1500), St Paul’s Outside the Walls (shown above; rebuilt after fire in 1823), and St Johns (totally remodeled). Notice the similar design to Classical Roman imperial basilicas.
  26. 26. Façade and bell tower added in the 15th century. San Michele (Lucca) basilica-style built around 790 CE
  27. 27. Interior of San Michele. Notice its minimal natural lighting (indeed, without modern day electrical spot lights it would be very dark).
  28. 28. Small windows bring in very little light into the interior space.
  29. 29. San Giovanni (Lucca) basilica style built around 1000 CE
  30. 30. Abbey Saint-Michel-de Cuxa in France, ca 1035 CE) Outside of Italy, early churches tended to have even less light, less refinement, and cruder building techniques.
  31. 31. Abbey of Saint Martin-du-Canigou, ca 1000 CE Abbey Saint-Michel-de Cuxa in France, ca 1035 CE
  32. 32. Another influence on medieval church design after 1100 CE was the Roman Basilica of Maxentius (ca 306 BCE) in the Roman Forum.
  33. 33. Cutaway –– Roman Basilica of Maxentius (ca 306 BCE). Notice the large curved arches (barrel vaults) and the tremendous scale. While almost nothing this large was created for almost a thousand years, medieval churches eventually added these vaults to the basic basilica plan thereby creating a cross floorplan. Such churches built between 1100-1300 are usually referred to as Romanesque churches.
  34. 34. Abbey of Saint-savin sur Gartempe, France, ca. 1050
  35. 35. Abbey of Saint-savin sur Gartempe, France, ca. 1050
  36. 36. Romanesque church; Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France, ca. 1080-1120
  37. 37. Church Saint Hilaire-le-Grand in Poitiers, France (ca 1100)
  38. 38. Church Saint Hilaire-le-Grand in Poitiers, France (ca 1100). Notice the multiple curved arches and the enhanced verticality (in comparison to the early basilica-style churches). Also notice the very large pillars needed to support these arches.
  39. 39. Church Saint Hilaire-le-Grand in Poitiers, France (ca 1100)
  40. 40. Historical Context 1750 CE 1500 CE Renaissance Late Medieval 1250 CE 1000 CE High Medieval 750 CE Early Medieval (“dark ages”) 500 CE
  41. 41. The great innovation in church design began just before 1200 CE in France and continued over the next two hundred years. The principle innovations included the pointed arch, the flying buttress, and the ribbed vault. This new style of church architecture is generally referred to as Gothic. This term is also used to describe developments happening in the others arts from this time period.
  42. 42. Pointed arch Ribbed vault
  43. 43. Romanesque arches Gothic arches
  44. 44. Buttress Pier
  45. 45. Romanesque (1100 CE) Gothic (1200 CE) (Saint-Sernin vs Chartres Cathedral)
  46. 46. South wall of Chartres Cathedral, 13th century. Notice the asymmetry, the ornate detail, the emphasis on verticality
  47. 47. Romanesque (1100 CE) Gothic (1200 CE) (Saint-Sernin vs Chartres Cathedral)
  48. 48. The structural innovations of the Gothic (i.e., pointed arches, flying buttress, ribbed vault), allowed church builders to emphasize the vertical dimension and bring in substantially more light. Since walls didn’t need to be as thick, more and larger windows could be added in to illuminate the space. The end result was less dark and somber, more light and spiritual.
  49. 49. Since walls didn’t need to be as thick, more and larger windows could be added in to illuminate the space.
  50. 50. The end result was less dark and somber, more light and spiritual. Canterbury Cathedral
  51. 51. Small windows San Michele (Lucca) basilica-style built around 790 CE
  52. 52. Large windows Canterbury Cathedral
  53. 53. The exteriors of these churches were also lavished with a great deal of sculptural detail and a similar focus on linear verticality along with a lack of interest in symmetry.
  54. 54. In contrast to architecture, medieval painting was quite conservative, showing little change from the 400s to the 1300s.
  55. 55. Arena Chapel, Padua, 1305-6 This changes with Giotto, an Italian painter from Florence, who was immensely influential.
  56. 56. Leafless tree is traditional symbol of death; it sits on barren ridge that plunges towards dead Christ John the Evangelist arms echoes that of angels; his sight is Mary is also along the diagonal down the diagonal diagonal, reinforcing the emptiness of the landscape Christ is at the bottom of a stark diagonal First artist since antiquity to show figures from behind; makes scene more realistic Giotto, The Lamentation [1305-6, Arena Chapel, Padua], about 8’ x 8’
  57. 57. The donor of the Chapel, Enrico Scrovegni
  58. 58. Duccio, Enthroned (Rucellai) Madonna, 1285 Uses Byzantine aesthetic models and approaches
  59. 59. Giotto, Madonna Enthroned ( Madonna d'Ognissanti ) 1310 Unlike Duccio, Giotto’’s Madonna inhabits three dimensional space, and hence the Madonna appears more realistic and thus ““motherly””
  60. 60. Because the Byzantine-style was associated with the early church, Duccio’s Madonna was generally considered by his contemporaries as being a more “realistic” realistic depiction of the divine, even though to us, Giotto’s Madonna is a more realistic depiction of people.
  61. 61. Medieval Sculpture Just as architecture went through a transition from Romanesque to Gothic, so too did sculpture. Sculpture in Romanesque churches tended to be limited to relief carvings; exceptions were wood carvings of Jesus on the cross or virgin and child.
  62. 62. Romanesque relief sculpture Italy, 8-9th century
  63. 63. Romanesque wood sculpture Christ at the Cross, Southern Germany, 12th century Wood
  64. 64. Madonna and Child, Saint-Philibert Church, Tournus (France), 10th-12th century Wood Virgin of Ger, Church of Santa Coloma, Ger (Spain), second half of the 12th century. Wood
  65. 65. In conjunction with the architectural innovations in Gothic church design between 1150-1250, stone sculpture also developed a new style. The exteriors of Gothic cathedrals became the setting for large sculptural projects of a size that had never before been seen. The outside of Chartres Cathedral displays about 2,000 pieces of sculpture; Reims Cathedral has even more.
  66. 66. Unlike the Romanesque relief sculptures, gothic sculptures seem to take a step forward from their wall, and thus (partly) inhabit the 3D world. While still stylized (e.g., elongated forms), the figures are individualized. Royal Portal, Chartes Cathedral, France ca 1150
  67. 67. Amiens Cathedral Central Portal Jamb Figures ca. 1240
  68. 68. Reims Cathedral Central Portal Jamb Figure ca. 1240
  69. 69. In Italy, Gothic sculpture showed more classical influences. This was especially true in Pisa, and its most famous artists: Nicola Pisano (1220- 1284) and his son Giovanni Pisano (1250- 1315).
  70. 70. Pulpit, Sienna Cathedral By Nicola Pisano ca. 1265-86
  71. 71. Pulpit, Pisa Cathedral By Giovanni Pisano ca. 1300
  72. 72. Detail, Pisano Pulpit, Last Judgement
  73. 73. Detail, Pisano Pulpit, Massacre of the Innocents
  74. 74. The Pisanos’ sculpture was strongly influenced by Roman sarcophagi, which had been found in large numbers in the Pisa area.
  75. 75. Roman sarcophagus, 2nd century CE
  76. 76. Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) Was a Florentine poet whose great work is the 14,233 line long verse epic The Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy On blackboard in class
  77. 77. Medieval Synthesis Christianity Scholasticism Knight/Elite-Oriented Power (provided intellectual justification for Christianity and power of kings and knights) Feudal economic relations (serfs/peasants obligated to work the land of the king/lord/knight)
  78. 78. The Gothic style coincides with the high point of the medieval synthesis, a time period which witnessed a dramatic and sustained growth in the European population and economy. Only the growth rate of the late Industrial Revolution time period (1840-1900) surpassed the growth rate of the 1200-1300s. Yet, during the 14th century (1300-1399), the medieval synthesis began to break apart.
  79. 79. Breakdown of Medieval Synthesis (1350 – 1450) Famine (1310 – 1330) (Some 15-25% of European population dies) Plague (1347-49) (Some 30-70% of European population dies) Western Schism (1378-1417) (split within the Catholic Church due to political reasons so that there were simultaneous Popes in Rome and Avignon) Military Revolution (military power beginning to chang from horse knights to mass infantry) Trade (contact with Islamic, Chinese, Byzantine, and Mongol cultures)
  80. 80. In the year of the Lord 1348 there was a very great pestilence in the city and district of Florence. It was of such a fury and so tempestuous that in houses in which it took hold previously healthy servants who took care of the ill died of the same illness. Almost non of the ill survived past the fourth day. Neither physicians nor medicines were effective. Whether because these illnesses were previously unknown or because physicians had not previously studied them, there seemed to be no cure. There was such a fear that no one seemed to know what to do. When it took hold in a house it often happened that no one remained who had not died. And it was not just that men and women died, but even sentient animals died. Dogs, cats, chickens, oxen, donkeys, sheep showed the same symptoms and died of the same disease. And almost none, or very few, who showed these symptoms, were cured. … This pestilence began in March and ended in September 1348. Marchione di Coppo Stefani , Florentine Chronicle
  81. 81. In October 1347, twelve Genoese trading ships put into the harbor at Messina in Sicily. The ships had come from the Black Sea where the Genoese had several important trading posts. The ships contained rather strange cargo: dead or dying sailors showed strange black swellings about the size of an egg located in their groins and armpits. These swellings oozed blood and pus. Those who suffered did so with extreme pain and were usually dead within a few days.
  82. 82. “In 1348, two thirds of the population was afflicted, and almost all died; in 1361 half contracted the disease, and very few survived; in 1371 only one-tenth became sick, and many survived; in 1382, only one twentieth became sick, and almost all survived.” Papal Physician Raymundus Chalmelli The traditional figure for the number of deaths caused by the Black Death in Europe in 1348 is one third of the population. In recent years, however, examinations of places where there is actual data shows mortality rates in the 50%-80% of the population.
  83. 83. Of one hundred and forty Dominican friars at the monastery at Montpellier, only one man survived.
  84. 84. “I do not deny that we deserve these things and even worse; but our ancestors also deserved them … why is it that the violence of [God's] vengeance lies so extraordinarily upon our times? … We have sinned as much as anyone, but we alone are being punished.” Nor, for all their number, were their obsequies honored by either tears or lights or crowds of mourners rather, it was come to this, that a dead man was then of no more account than a dead goat would be to-day. Boccaccio, The Decameron
  85. 85. Europe didn’t regain its year 1300 population level until about 1800.
  86. 86. Serfs Landowners (nobility/knights/royalty) How would the loss of 30 to 70% of the p p population affect Skill d Skilled l b labour (i in b urban ) areas) these elements of medieval society?