Paul Halsall

Introduction to the Medieval World

Extra Class: Medieval Art and Architecture

Assigned Reading:



I. Introduction A. Medieval buildings Rural/Peasant - cottages Urban/Use of Stone or brick -Town - town walls/stone -Noble - Secular - castles, manor houses/stone Religious - Cathedrals, Abbeys, smaller churches - reflect a value system - of how to spend small surplus. [mention St. John the Divine] B. Art Sculpture [Mention graven images] Painting Tapestry Book illumination Fundamental concept of western art - so obvious you don't think about it - is that art relates to the subject it portrays - not the observer - cf. Islamic art. II. The Cloisters Medieval Collection of the Metropolitan Museum Founded by John D. Rockefeller [Value of robber barons] From a collection he spent the early years of this century building up. Centerpiece is its four cloisters Arranged so as to illustrate Artistic development of the middle ages - mainly in western Europe - France, Spain, England. Less so of Italy of Germany III. Churches -Religious faith -More space than necessary -Chapels -Altars -color -Cathedrals - could take a century to construct - a sign of the wealth of the high middle ages. IV. Romanesque 1000 or earlier - Ralph Glaber remarked `the world was putting on a white mantle' of churches. -Develops in Lombardy first - but in Italy use of marble gives a different effect - e.g. Pisa - 1068-1118 -Rounded arch: requires heavy pillars, but allows stone vaulting. -Heavy and somber - but also fantastic and exuberant -Beginning of signing art - Gilbertus fecit hoc at Autun V. Gothic -Not called gothic at the time - it was a Renaissance insult. -Reflects a more intense emotionalism -But also pure engineering development -a desire to push roofs higher -led to pointed arches -need to support thrust of walls a ceilings Signs of the Gothic in Buildings -Pointed arches -Vault ribs -Buttresses - allow windows - stained glass - light and airy 1140s-early 1300s - Gothic -Abbot Suger - St. Denis -Chartres -Notre Dame -Westminster Abbey - 435 men worked on it in midsummer 1253 -some fell down - Beauvais -Greater importance of the mass. -Decorative schemes - tendency towards naturalism VI. Late Gothic Move to elaboration of themes - more and more detail Seen in paintings as well Symbolism increases in importance VII. Monasteries -Could be as elaborate as great cathedrals. -For centuries Cluny was second largest Church in the west. -Others were simple. St. Benedict's rule provided a model for monastic life. -In Celtic and Byzantine monasticism, buildings could be all over the place. -In Benedictine monasteries, you had to have certain buildings -a church -a chapter house -a refractory -a dormitory -led to remarkably similar types of monastic buildings - often centered around cloisters. VIII. "Minor" Arts -Book illumination -Church furnishing -Weaving -Tapestry -reliquaries -Monstrances -censors

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© Paul Halsall, 1996.

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