Dictionary of Art and Artists



 

 


History of

Architecture and Sculpture

 
 

 

 
 

 
 

CONTENTS:

 
 

PART ONE
THE ANCIENT WORLD
PREHISTORIC ART
EGYPTIAN ART

ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
AEGEAN ART
GREEK ART
ETRUSCAN ART
ROMAN ART
EARLY CHRISTIAN AND BYZANTINE ART

PART TWO
THE MIDDLE AGES
EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
ROMANESQUE ART
GOTHIC ART

PART THREE
THE RENAISSANCE THROUGH THE ROCOCO
LATE GOTHIC
THE EARLY RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
MANNERISM AND OTHER TRENDS
THE RENAISSANCE IN THE NORTH
THE BAROQUE IN ITALY AND SPAIN
THE BAROQUE IN FLANDERS AND HOLLAND
THE BAROQUE
THE ROCOCO

PART FOUR
THE MODERN WORLD
NEOCLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM
REALISM AND IMPRESSIONISM
POST-IMPRESSIONISM, SYMBOLISM, AND ART NOUVEAU

PART FIVE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY
TWENTIETH-CENTURY SCULPTURE
TWENTIETH-CENTURY ARCHITECTURE


INDEX
FIGURES
 

 

 


CHAPTER ONE
 

EARLY MEDIEVAL ART
 

THE DARK AGES-I
THE DARK AGES-II
OTTONIAN AR

 


OTTONIAN ART
 


In 870, about the time when the Lindau Gospels cover was made, the remains of Charlemagne's empire were ruled by his two surviving grandsons: Charles the Bald, the West Frankish king, and Louis the German, the East Frankish king, whose domains corresponded roughly to the France and Germany of today. Their power was so weak, however, that Continental Europe once again lay exposed to attack. In the south, the Moslems resumed their depredations; Slavs and Magyars advanced from the east; and Vikings from Scandinavia ravaged the north and west.

These Norsemen (the ancestors of today's Danes and Norwegians) had been raiding Ireland and Britain by sea from the late eighth century on. Now they invaded northwestern France as well and occupied the area that ever since has been called Normandy. Once established there, they soon adopted Christianity and Carolingian civilization, and from 911 on their leaders were recognized as dukes nominally subject to the authority of the king of France. During the eleventh century, the Normans assumed a role of major importance in shaping the political and cultural destiny of Europe, with William the Conqueror becoming king of England, while other Norman nobles expelled the Arabs Irom Sicily and the Byzantines from southern Italy.

In Germany, meanwhile, after the death of the last Carolingian monarch in 911, the center of political power had shifted north to Saxony. The Saxon kings (919-1024) reestablished an effective central government, and the greatest of them. Otto I. also revived the imperial ambitions of (Charlemagne. After marrying the widow of a Lombard king, he extended his rule over most ol Italy and had himself crowned emperor by the pope in 962. From then on the Holy Roman Empire was to be a German institution—or perhaps we ought to call it a German dream, for Otto's successors never managed to consolidate their claim to sovereignty south of the Alps. Yet this claim had momentous consequences, since it led the German emperors into centuries of conflict with the papacy and local Italian rulers, linking North and South in a love-hate relationship whose echoes can be felt to the present day.




Sculpture

During the Ottoman period, from the mid-tenth century to the beginning oi the eleventh, Germany was the leading nation of Europe, politically as well as artistically. German achievements in both areas began as revivals of Carolingian traditions but soon developed new and original traits.



GERO CRUCIFIX.

The change of outlook is impressively brought home to us if we compare the Christ on the cover of the Lindau Gospels (fig. 390) with The Gero Crucifix (fig. 391) in the Cathedral at Cologne. The two works are separated by little more than a hundred years' interval, but the contrast between them suggests a far greater span. In The Gero Crucifix we meet an image of the crucified Saviour new to Western art: monumental in scale, carved in powerfully rounded forms, and filled with a deep concern for the sufferings of the Lord, which are heightened by the addition of color. Particularly striking is the forward bulge of the heavy body, which makes the strain on His arms and shoulders seem almost unbearably real. The face, with its deeply incised, angular features, has turned into a mask of agony, from which all life has fled.


391. The Gero Crucifix, ń. 975-1000 A.D. Wood, height 6'2" (2 m).
Cathedral, Cologne



How did the Ottonian sculptor arrive at this startlingly bold conception? The Gem Crucifix clearly derives from Byzantine art of the Second Golden Age, which, we will recall, had created the compassionate view of Christ on the Cross (see fig. 342). Byzantine influence was strong in Germany at the time, for Otto II had married a Byzantine princess, establishing a direct link between the two imperial courts. The source alone is not sufficient to explain the results. It remained for the Ottonian artist to translate the Byzantine image into large-scale sculptural terms and to replace its gentle pathos with an expressive realism that has been the main strength of German art ever since.



Architecture

Cologne was closely connected with the imperial house through its archbishop, Bruno, the brother of Otto I, who left a strong mark on the city through the numerous churches he built or rebuilt. His favorite among these, the Benedictine Abbey of St. Pantaleon, became his burial place as well as that of the wife of Otto II. Only the monumental westwork (fig. 392) has retained its original shape essentially unchanged until modern times. We recognize it as a massive and well-proportioned successor to Carolingian westworks, with the characteristic tower over the crossing of the western transept and a deep porch flanked by tall stair turrets (compare fig. 382).


392. Westwork, St. Pantaleon, Cologne. Consecrated 980 A.D.




ST. MICHAEL'S, HILDESHEIM.



Hildesheim Cathedral (St. Michael's)

Judged in terms of surviving works, however, the most ambitious patron of architecture and art in the Ottonian age was Bernward, who became bishop of Hildesheim after having been one of the tutors of Otto III. His chief monument is another Benedictine abbey church, St. Michael's (figs. 393-95). The plan, with its two choirs and lateral entrances, recalls the monastery church of the St. Gall plan (see fig. 383). But in St. Michael's the symmetry is carried much further. Not only are there two identical transepts, with crossing towers and stair turrets (see figs. 381 and 382), but the supports of the nave arcade, instead of being uniform, consist of pairs of columns separated by square piers. This alternate system divides the arcade into three equal units of three openings each. Moreover, the first and third units are correlated with the entrances, thus echoing the axis of the transepts. And since the aisles and nave arc unusually wide in relation to their length, Bernward's intention must have been to achieve a harmonious balance between the longitudinal and transverse axes throughout the structure.

The exterior as well as the choirs of Bernward's church have been disfigured by rebuilding, but the interior of the nave (figs. 394 and 395), with its great expanse of wall space between arcade and clerestory, retains the majestic spatial feeling of the original design following its recent restoration. (The capitals of the columns date from the twelfth century, the painted wooden ceiling from the thirteenth.) The Bernwardian western choir, as reconstructed in our plan, is particularly interesting. Its floor was raised above the level of the rest of the church, so as to accommodate a half-subterranean basement chapel, or crypt, apparently a special sanctuary of St. Michael, which could be entered both from the transept and from the west. The crypt was roofed by groined vaults resting on two rows of columns, and its walls were pierced by arched openings that linked it with the U-shaped corridor, or ambulatory, wrapped around it. This ambulatory must have been visible above ground, enriching the exterior of the western choir, since there were windows in its outer wall. Such crypts with ambulatories, usually housing the venerated tomb of a saint, had been introduced into the repertory of Western church architecture during Carolingian times. But the Bern-wardian design stands out for its large scale and its carefully planned integration with the rest of the building.


393. Reconstructed plan. Hildesheim Cathedral (St. Michael's). 1001-33

394. Reconstructed longitudinal section, Hildesheim Cathedral (alter Beseler)

395. Interior (view toward the apse), Hildesheim Cathedral




Metalwork
 


396. Bronze Doors of Bishop Bernward. 1015. Heiaht ń. 161 (4.8 m). Hildesheim Cathedral

BRONZE DOORS OF BISHOP BERNWARD.

How much importance Bernward himself attached to the crypt at St. Michael's can be gathered from the fact that he commissioned a pair of richly sculptured bronze doors that were probably meant for the two entrances leading from the transept to the ambulatory (fig. 396). They were finished in 1015, the year the crypt was consecrated. The idea may have come to him as a result of his visit to Rome, where he could have seen ancient Roman (and perhaps Byzantine) bronze doors. The Bernwardian doors, however, differ from their predecessors. They are divided into broad horizontal fields rather than vertical panels, and each field contains a biblical scene in high relief. The subjects, taken from Genesis (left door) and the Life of Christ (right door), depict the origin and redemption of sin.

Our detail (fig. 397) shows Adam and Eve after the Fall. Below it, in inlaid letters remarkable for their classical Roman character, is part of the dedicatory inscription, with the date and Bernward's name. In these figures we find nothing of the monumental spirit of The Gero Crucifix. They seem far smaller than they actually are, so that one might easily mistake them for a piece of goldsmith's work such as the Lindau Gospels cover (compare fig. 390). The entire composition must have been derived from an illuminated manuscript. Even the oddly stylized bits of vegetation have a good deal of the twisting, turning movement we recall from Irish miniatures. Yet the story is conveyed with splendid directness and expressive force. The accusing finger of the Lord, seen against a great void of blank surface, is the focal point of the drama. It points to a cringing Adam, who passes the blame to his mate, while Eve, in turn, passes it to the serpent at her feet.


397. Adam and Eve Reproached by the Lord,
from the Bronze Doors of Bishop Bernward.
c.
23 x 43" (58.3 x 109.3 cm)




Bronze Doors of Bishop Bernward (detail)




Bronze Doors of Bishop Bernward (detail)




Bronze Doors of Bishop Bernward (detail)




Bronze Doors of Bishop Bernward (detail)



Manuscripts


GOSPEL BOOK OF OTTO III.

The same intensity of glance and of gesture characterizes Ottoman manuscript painting, which blends Carolingian and Byzantine elements into a new style of extraordinary scope and power. The most important center of manuscript illumination at that time was the Reichenau Monastery, on an island in Lake Constance. Perhaps its finest achievement—and one of the great masterpieces of medieval art—is the Gospel Book of Otto III, from which we reproduce two full-page miniatures (figs. 398 and 399).

The scene of Christ washing the feet of St. Peter contains notable echoes of ancient painting, transmitted through Byzantine art. The soft pastel hues of the background recall the illusionism of Graeco-Roman landscapes (see figs. 290 and 291), and the architectural frame around Christ is a late descendant of the kind of architectural perspectives we saw in the mural from Boscoreale (see fig. 289). That these elements have been misunderstood by the Ottoman artist is obvious enough. But he has also put them to a new use, so that what was once an architectural vista now becomes the Heavenly City, the House of the Lord filled with golden celestial space as against the atmospheric earthly space without.

The figures have undergone a similar transformation. In ancient art, this composition had been used to represent a doctor treating a patient. Now St. Peter takes the place of the sufferer, and Christ that of the physician. (Note that He is still the beardless young philosopher type here.) As a consequence, the emphasis has shifted from physical to spiritual action, and this new kind of action is not only conveyed through glances and gestures, it also governs the scale of things. Christ and St.
Peter, the most active figures, are larger than the rest; Christ's "active" arm is longer than His "passive" one; and the eight disciples, who merely watch, have been compressed into a tiny space, so that we see little more than their eyes and hands. Even the fanlike Early Christian crowd from which this derives (see fig. 311) is not so literally disembodied.

The other miniature, the painting of St. Luke, is a symbolic image of overwhelming grandeur. Unlike his Carolingian predecessors (see figs. 386 and 388), the evangelist is no longer shown writing. Instead, his Gospel lies completed on his lap. Enthroned on two rainbows, he holds aloft an awesome cluster of clouds from which tongues of light radiate in every direction. Within it we see his symbol, the ox, surrounded by five Old Testament prophets and an outer circle of angels. At the bottom, two lambs drink the life-giving waters that spring from beneath the evangelist's feet. The key to the entire design is in the inscription: Fonte patrum ductas bos agnis elicit undas— "From the source of the fathers the ox brings forth a flow of water for the lambs"—that is, St. Luke makes the prophets' message of salvation explicit for the faithful. The Ottoman artist has truly "illuminated" the meaning of this terse and enigmatic phrase by translating it into such compelling visual terms.



398. Christ Washing the Feet of Peter, from the Gospel Book of Otto III. ń. 1000. 13 x 9 3/8" (33 x 23.8 cm). Staatsbibliothek, Munich

399. St. Luke, from the Gospel Book of Otto III. ń
1000. 13 x 9 3/8" (33 x 23.8 cm). Staatsbibliothek, Munich

 
 

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