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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  • Icon depicting Emperor Constantine (center) and the Fathers of the First Council of Nicaea (325) as holding the Niceno–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381
  • Court of Justinian, apse mosaic, San Vitale, Ravenna, c. 547
  • Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Felix and Augustus, 528.
  • Apse mosaic showing Christ with San Vitale, Bishop Ecclesius, and two angels,
  • South Wall Mosaic, Sant’Apollinare Ravenna
  • Virgin and Child Enthroned, Katholikon, Hosios Loukas, Greece, c. 1020.
  • Christ, detail of a deësis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, 13th century
  • Saint Simon Stylite; Saint Anthony the Great + Saint Paul the Hermit meeting in the desert
  • Day in the life in a monastery: 2am – 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 2:30-3:15 – dinner 3:15-4:15 – reading 4:15-4:45 – vespers (prayer) 4:45-5:15 – compline (prayer) 5:15-6:00 – prepare for sleep
  • Reconstruction monastery St. Gall Switzerland
  • Limbourg Brothers, Book of Hours (1413-1416) -- Feb, March
  • may
  • June, July
  • Aug
  • September
  • October
  • Jan
  • The Investiture Controversy was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such as popes, bishops and abbots. The principal conflict began in 1075 between Pope Gregory VII and Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor.
  • Europe circa 1200
  • Europe circa 1300
  • Last Judgment, tympanum of west portal, Sainte-Foy, Conques. c. 1130.
  • Depicted in the upper level is the weighing of souls by St. Michael the Archangel, with interference by the Devil (the scales are missing), flanked by the resurrection of the righteous and some punishments of the damned. The lower level shows the gates to heaven and hell, attended by angels and demons
  • Orvieto Cathedral, 1310-30
  • hereford mappae mundi circa 1300 ..drawn on a single sheet of vellum, it is the largest medieval map currently in existence. Jerusalem at centre
  • hereford mappae mundi circa 1300 ..drawn on a single sheet of vellum, it is the largest medieval map currently in existence. Jerusalem at centre
  • University Lecture by Henry of Germany, from a medieval edition of Aristotle's Ethics, second half of 14th century
  • Plan of typical romanesque church; Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France, ca. 1080-1120
  • Nave and choir of Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France, ca. 1080-1120; Tribune and nave vaults, Sainte-Foy, Conques, France, c. 1050-1120 ;
  • Round and pointed arches and vaults.
  • Romanesque vs gothic (Saint-Sernin, 11 th century vs Chartres Cathedral, 13th century)
  • Romanesque vs gothic ( Saint-Sernin vs Chartres Cathedral)
  • South wall of Chartres Cathedral, 13th century.
  • Romanesque vs gothic ( Saint-Sernin vs Chartres Cathedral)
  • Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints Felix and Augustus, 528.
  • Arena Chapel, Padua
  • Giotto, Last Judgment
  • Marchione di Coppo Stefani was born in Florence in 1336. He wrote his Florentine Chronicle in the late 1370s and early 1380s. Stefani, Marchione di Coppo. Cronaca fiorentina. Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, Vol. 30. , ed. Niccolo Rodolico. Citta di Castello: 1903-13.
  • 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.
  • 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, I am Legend
  • Hell on Earth, the nightmare depicted by Flemish painter Pieter Bruegel in his mid-16th-century "The Triumph of Death" reflects the social upheaval and terror that followed plague, which devastated medieval Europe.
  • Marco Battagli; The dies Irae remained part of the Roman Catholic Requim Mass until 1970.
  • A Procession of Flagellants , Goya 1812-4
  • Petrarca
  • How would the loss of 30 to 70% of the population affect society?
  • Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 - 1375) wrote his Decameron between 1349-1352. It concerns a group of seven young women and three young men who fled from plague-ridden Florence for a villa outside of the city walls. To pass the time, each member of the party tells one story for every one of the ten nights spent at the villa (10 people telling ten stories = 100 stories). Each day has a new theme assigned to it except for days 1 and 9: misfortunes that bring a person to a state of unexpected happiness; people who have achieved an object they greatly desired, or recovered a thing previously lost; love stories that ended unhappily; love that survived disaster; those who have avoided danger; tricks women have played on their husbands; tricks both men and women play on each other; those who have given very generously whether for love or another endeavor. Boccaccio himself notes that the names he gives for these ten characters are in fact pseudonyms chosen as "appropriate to the qualities of each". The Italian names of the seven women, in the same (most likely significant) order as given in the text, are: Pampinea (the flourishing one), Fiammetta (small flame), Filomena (faithful in love), Emilia (rival), Lauretta (wise, crowned with laurels), Neifile (cloudy), and Elissa (God is my vow). The men, in order, are: Panfilo (completely in love), Filostrato (overcome by love), and Dioneo (lustful). A Tale from the Decameron  by John William Waterhouse [1916]
  • 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?