Carolingian art

Carolingian art

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Carolingian art comes from the Frankish Empire
Frankish Empire
Francia or Frankia, later also called the Frankish Empire , Frankish Kingdom , Frankish Realm or occasionally Frankland, was the territory inhabited and ruled by the Franks from the 3rd to the 10th century...

 in the period of roughly 120 years from about AD
Anno Domini
and Before Christ are designations used to label or number years used with the Julian and Gregorian calendars....

 780
780
Year 780 was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 780 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* Constantine VI becomes Byzantine...

 to 900
900
Year 900 was a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar.- Asia :* April 21 – Namwaran and his children, Lady Angkatan and Bukah, are granted pardon by the Datu of Tondo, as represented Jayadewa, Lord Minister of Pila, which released them of all their debts as inscribed in the...

 — during the reign of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 and his immediate heirs — popularly known as the Carolingian Renaissance
Carolingian Renaissance
In the history of ideas the Carolingian Renaissance stands out as a period of intellectual and cultural revival in Europe occurring from the late eighth century, in the generation of Alcuin, to the 9th century, and the generation of Heiric of Auxerre, with the peak of the activities coordinated...

. The art was produced by and for the court circle and a group of important monasteries under Imperial patronage. There was for the first time a thoroughgoing attempt in Northern Europe to revive and emulate classical Mediterranean art forms and styles, that resulted in a blending of classical and Northern elements in a sumptuous and dignified style, in particular introducing to the North confidence in representing the human figure, and setting the stage for the rise of Romanesque art
Romanesque art
Romanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is increasingly known as the Pre-Romanesque...

 and eventually Gothic art
Gothic art
Gothic art was a Medieval art movement that developed in France out of Romanesque art in the mid-12th century, led by the concurrent development of Gothic architecture. It spread to all of Western Europe, but took over art more completely north of the Alps, never quite effacing more classical...

 in the West.

The Carolingian era is part of the period in Medieval art
Medieval art
The medieval art of the Western world covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history in Europe, and at times the Middle East and North Africa...

 known as "Pre-Romanesque
Pre-Romanesque art
Pre-Romanesque art and architecture is the period in Western European art from either the emergence of the Merovingian kingdom in about 500 or from the Carolingian Renaissance in the late 8th century, to the beginning of the 11th century Romanesque period...

".

History



Having established an Empire as large as the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 of the day, and rivalling in size the old Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, the Carolingian court must have been conscious that they lacked an artistic style to match these or even the post-antique (or "sub-antique" as Ernst Kitzinger
Ernst Kitzinger
Ernst Kitzinger was a German-American historian of late antique, early medieval, and Byzantine art.-Biography:...

 called it) art still being produced in small quantities in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and a few other centres in Italy, which Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 knew from his campaigns, and where he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor
Holy Roman Emperor
The Holy Roman Emperor is a term used by historians to denote a medieval ruler who, as German King, had also received the title of "Emperor of the Romans" from the Pope...

 in Rome in 800
800
Year 800 was a leap year starting on Wednesday of the Julian calendar. It was around this time that the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years, so from this time on, the years began being known as 800 and onwards.- Europe :* December 25 - Pope Leo III...

.

As symbolic representative of Rome he sought the renovatio (revival) of Roman culture and learning in the West, and needed an art capable of telling stories and representing figures with an effectiveness which ornamental Germanic Migration period art
Migration Period art
Migration Period art denotes the artwork of the Germanic peoples during the Migration period . It includes the Migration art of the Germanic tribes on the continent, as well the start of the Insular art or Hiberno-Saxon art of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic fusion in the British Isles...

 could not. He wished to establish himself as the heir to the great rulers of the past, to emulate and symbolically link the artistic achievements of Early Christian and Byzantine
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

 culture with his own.

But it was more than a conscious desire to revive ancient Roman culture. During Charlemagne's reign the Byzantine Iconoclasm controversy was dividing the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. Charlemagne supported the Western church's consistent refusal to follow iconoclasm; the Libri Carolini
Libri Carolini
The Libri Carolini , Opus Caroli regis contra synodum , also called Charlemagne's Books or simply the Carolines, are the work in four books composed on the command of Charlemagne, around 790, to refute the supposed conclusions of the Byzantine Second Council of Nicaea , particularly as...

 sets out the position of his court circle, no doubt under his direction. With no inhibitions from a cultural memory of Mediterranean pagan idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

, Charlemagne introduced the first Christian monumental religious sculpture, a momentous precedent for Western art.

Reasonable numbers of Carolingian illuminated manuscript
Illuminated manuscript
An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations...

s and small-scale sculptures, mostly in ivory, have survived, but far fewer examples of metalwork, mosaics and frescos and other types of work. Many manuscripts in particular are copies or reinterpretations of Late Antique or Byzantine models, nearly all now lost, and the nature of the influence of specific models on individual Carolingian works remains a perennial topic in art history. As well as these influences, the extravagant energy of Insular art
Insular art
Insular art, also known as Hiberno-Saxon art, is the style of art produced in the post-Roman history of Ireland and Great Britain. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe...

 added a definite flavour to Carolingian work, which sometimes used interlace
Interlace (visual arts)
In the visual arts, interlace is a decorative element found in medieval art. In interlace, bands or portions of other motifs are looped, braided, and knotted in complex geometric patterns, often to fill a space. Islamic interlace patterns and Celtic knotwork share similar patterns, suggesting a...

decoration, and followed more cautiously the insular freedom in allowing decoration to spread around and into the text on the page of a manuscript.

With the end of Carolingian rule around 900
900
Year 900 was a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar.- Asia :* April 21 – Namwaran and his children, Lady Angkatan and Bukah, are granted pardon by the Datu of Tondo, as represented Jayadewa, Lord Minister of Pila, which released them of all their debts as inscribed in the...

, high quality artistic production greatly declined for about three generations in the Empire. By the later 10th century with the Cluny
Cluny
Cluny or Clungy is a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France. It is 20 km northwest of Mâcon.The town grew up around the Benedictine Cluny Abbey, founded by Duke William I of Aquitaine in 910...

 reform movement, and a revived spirit for the idea of Empire, art production began again. New Pre-Romanesque styles appeared in Germany with the Ottonian art
Ottonian art
In pre-romanesque Germany, the prevailing style was what has come to be known as Ottonian art. With Ottonian architecture, it is a key component of the Ottonian Renaissance named for the emperors Otto I, Otto II, and Otto III...

 of the next stable dynasty, in England with late Anglo-Saxon art
Anglo-Saxon art
Anglo-Saxon art covers art produced within the Anglo-Saxon period of English history, beginning with the Migration period style that the Anglo-Saxons brought with them from the continent in the 5th century, and ending in 1066 with the Norman Conquest of a large Anglo-Saxon nation-state whose...

, after the threat from the Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

s was removed, and in Spain.

Illuminated manuscripts



The most numerous surviving works of the Carolingian renaissance are illuminated manuscripts. A number of luxury manuscripts, mostly Gospel book
Gospel Book
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

s, have survived, decorated with a relatively small number of full-page miniatures
Miniature (illuminated manuscript)
The word miniature, derived from the Latin minium, red lead, is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript; the simple decoration of the early codices having been miniated or delineated with that pigment...

, often including evangelist portrait
Evangelist portrait
Evangelist portraits are a specific type of miniature included in ancient and mediæval illuminated manuscript Gospel Books, and later in Bibles and other books, as well as other media. Each Gospel of the Four Evangelists, the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, may be prefaced by a portrait of...

s, and lavish canon tables, following the precedent of the Insular art
Insular art
Insular art, also known as Hiberno-Saxon art, is the style of art produced in the post-Roman history of Ireland and Great Britain. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe...

 of Britain and Ireland. Narrative images and especially cycles are rarer, but many exist, mostly of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, especially Genesis - New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 scenes are more often found on the ivory relief
Relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

s on the covers. The over-sized and heavily decorated initials of Insular art were adopted, and the historiated initial
Historiated initial
A historiated initial is an enlarged letter at the beginning of a paragraph or other section of text, which contains a picture. Strictly speaking, an inhabited initial contains figures that are decorative only, without forming a subject, whereas in a historiated initial there is an identifiable...

 further developed, with small narrative scenes seen for the first time towards the end of the period - notably in the Drogo Sacramentary
Drogo Sacramentary
The Drogo Sacramentary is a Carolingian illuminated manuscript on vellum of c.850 AD, one of the monuments of Carolingian book illumination...

. Luxury manuscripts were given rich covers with jewels set in gold and carved ivory panels, and, as in Insular art, were prestige objects kept in the church or treasury, and a different class of object from the working manuscripts kept in the library, where some initials might be decorated, and pen drawings added in a few places. A few of the grandest imperial manuscripts were written on purple parchment
Purple parchment
Purple parchment or Codex Purpureus refers to manuscripts written on parchment dyed purple, originally restricted for the use of Roman or Byzantine Emperors. The lettering may be in gold or silver. Later the practice was revived for some especially grand illuminated manuscripts produced for the...

. The Bern Physiologus
Bern Physiologus
The Bern Physiologus is a 9th century illuminated copy of the Latin translation of the Physiologus. It was probably produced at Reims about 825-850. It is believed to be a copy of a 5th century manuscript. Many of its miniatures are set, unframed, into the text block, which was a characteristic...

 is a relatively rare example of a secular manuscript heavily illustrated with fully painted miniatures, lying in between these two classes, and perhaps produced for the private library of an important individual. The Utrecht Psalter
Utrecht Psalter
The Utrecht Psalter is a ninth century illuminated psalter which is a key masterpiece of Carolingian art; it is probably the most valuable manuscript in the Netherlands. It is famous for its 166 lively pen illustrations, with one accompanying each psalm and the other texts in the manuscript...

, stands alone as a very heavily illustrated library version of the Psalms done in pen and wash, and almost certainly copied from a much earlier manuscript.

Other liturgical works were sometimes produced in luxury manuscripts, such as sacramentaries
Sacramentary
The Sacramentary is a book of the Middle Ages containing the words spoken by the priest celebrating a Mass and other liturgies of the Church. The books were usually in fact written for bishops or other higher clegy such as abbots, and many lavishly decorated illuminated manuscript sacramentaries...

, but no Carolingian Bible is decorated as heavily as the Late Antique examples that survive in fragments. Teaching books such as theological, historical, literary and scientific works from ancient authors were copied and generally only illustrated in ink, if at all.

Centres of illumination


Carolingian manuscripts are presumed to have been produced largely or entirely by clerics, in a few workshops around the Carolingian Empire, each with its own style that developed based on the artists and influences of that particular location and time. Manuscripts often have inscriptions, not necessarily contemporary, as to who commissioned them, and which church or monastery they were given to, but few dates or names and locations of those producing them. The surviving manuscripts have been assigned, and often re-assigned, to workshops by scholars, and the controversies attending this process have largely died down. The earliest workshop was the Court School of Charlemagne; then a Rheimsian style, which became the most influential of the Carolingian period; a Touronian style; a Drogo style; and finally a Court School of Charles the Bald. These are the major centres, but others exist, characterized by the works of art produced there.
The Court School of Charlemagne (also known as the Ada School) produced the earliest manuscripts, including the Godescalc Evangelistary
Godescalc Evangelistary
The Godescalc Evangelistary or Godescalc Gospel Lectionary is an illuminated manuscript Gospel Book made by the Frankish scribe Godescalc circa 781 - 783 C.E...

 (781–783); the Lorsch Gospels
Codex Aureus of Lorsch
The Codex Aureus of Lorsch or Lorsch Gospels is an illuminated Gospel Book written between 778 and 820, roughly coinciding with the period of Charlemagne's rule over the Frankish Empire.It was first recorded in Lorsch Abbey , for which it was presumably written, and...

 (778–820); the Ada Gospels
Ada Gospels
The Ada Gospels is a late eighth century or early ninth century Carolingian gospel book. The manuscript contains a dedication to Charlemagne's sister Ada, whence it gets its name. The manuscript is written on vellum in Carolingian minuscule. It measures 14.5 by 9.625 inches...

 (picture:St.Matthew); the Soissons Gospels; and the Coronation Gospels
Coronation Gospels
British Library, Cotton MS Tiberius A. ii is a late 9th or early 10th-century Ottonian illuminated Gospel book, which entered England as a gift to King Athelstan, who in turn offered it to Christ Church, Canterbury...

 (picture:St.Matthew). The Court School manuscripts were ornate and ostentatious, and reminiscent of 6th century ivories and mosaics from Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, Italy. They were the earliest Carolingian manuscripts and initiated a revival of Roman classicism, yet still maintained Migration Period art
Migration Period art
Migration Period art denotes the artwork of the Germanic peoples during the Migration period . It includes the Migration art of the Germanic tribes on the continent, as well the start of the Insular art or Hiberno-Saxon art of the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic fusion in the British Isles...

 (Merovingian and Insular
Insular art
Insular art, also known as Hiberno-Saxon art, is the style of art produced in the post-Roman history of Ireland and Great Britain. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe...

) traditions in their basically linear presentation, with no concern for volume and spatial relationships.

In the early 9th century Archbishop Ebo of Rheims, at Hautvillers
Hautvillers
Hautvillers is a commune in the Marne department in north-eastern France....

 (near Rheims), assembled artists and transformed Carolingian art to something entirely new. The Gospel book of Ebbo (816–835) was painted with swift, fresh and vibrant brush strokes, evoking an inspiration and energy unknown in classical Mediterranean forms (see image this page and picture:St.Matthew). Other books associated with the Rheims school include the Utrecht Psalter
Utrecht Psalter
The Utrecht Psalter is a ninth century illuminated psalter which is a key masterpiece of Carolingian art; it is probably the most valuable manuscript in the Netherlands. It is famous for its 166 lively pen illustrations, with one accompanying each psalm and the other texts in the manuscript...

 (picture:gallery), which was perhaps the most important of all Carolingian manuscripts, and the Bern Physiologus
Bern Physiologus
The Bern Physiologus is a 9th century illuminated copy of the Latin translation of the Physiologus. It was probably produced at Reims about 825-850. It is believed to be a copy of a 5th century manuscript. Many of its miniatures are set, unframed, into the text block, which was a characteristic...

, the earliest Latin edition of the Christian allegorical text on animals. The expressive animations of the Rheims school, in particular the Utrecht Psalter with its naturalistic expressive figurine line drawings, would have influence on northern medieval art for centuries to follow, into the Romanesque period.

Another style developed at the monastery of St Martin of Tours, in which large Bibles were illustrated based on Late Antique bible illustrations. Three large Touronian Bibles were created, the last, and best, example was made about 845/846 for Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

, called the Vivian Bible. The Tours
Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

 School was cut short by the invasion of the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 in 853, but its style had already left a permanent mark on other centers in the Carolingian Empire.

The diocese of Metz
Diocese of Metz
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Metz is a Diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in France. In the Middle Ages it was in effect an independent state, part of the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the bishop who had the ex officio title of count. It was annexed to France by King Henry II in...

 was another center of Carolingian art. Between 850 and 855 a sacramentary
Sacramentary
The Sacramentary is a book of the Middle Ages containing the words spoken by the priest celebrating a Mass and other liturgies of the Church. The books were usually in fact written for bishops or other higher clegy such as abbots, and many lavishly decorated illuminated manuscript sacramentaries...

 was made for Bishop Drogo
Drogo of Metz
Drogo , also known as Dreux or Drogon, was an illegitimate son of Frankish emperor Charlemagne by the concubine Regina....

 called the Drogo Sacramentary
Drogo Sacramentary
The Drogo Sacramentary is a Carolingian illuminated manuscript on vellum of c.850 AD, one of the monuments of Carolingian book illumination...

. The illuminated "historiated" decorated initials (see image this page) were to have influence into the Romanesque period and were a harmonious union of classical lettering with figural scenes.

In the second half of the 9th century the traditions of the first half continued. A number of richly decorated Bibles were made for Charles the Bald, fusing Late Antiquity forms with the styles developed at Rheims and Tours. It was during this time a Franco-Saxon style appeared in the north of France, integrating Hiberno-Saxon interlace, and would outlast all other Carolingian styles into the next century.

Charles the Bald, like his grandfather, also established a Court School. Its location is uncertain but several manuscripts are attributed to it, with the Codex Aureus
Codex Aureus
Codex Aureus is Latin for Golden Book. Several Gospel Books from the 9th through 11th centuries were so heavily illuminated with gold leaf that they were referred to as the Codex Aureus. These manuscripts include:*Codex Aureus of Lorsch...

 (870) (picture:Charles the Bald Enthroned) being the last and most spectacular. It contained Touronian and Rheimsian elements, but fused with the style that characterized Charlemagne's Court School more formal manuscripts.

With the death of Charles the Bald patronage for manuscripts declined, signaling the beginning of the end, but some work did continue for a while. The Abbey of St. Gall
Abbey of St. Gall
The Abbey of Saint Gall is a religious complex in the city of St. Gallen in present-day Switzerland. The Carolingian-era Abbey has existed since 719 and became an independent principality during the 13th century, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It was...

 created the Folchard Psalter
Folchard Psalter
The Folchart Psalter, or Folchard Psalter , is a Carolingian illuminated manuscript. It was produced about 872-883 in the scriptorium of the Abbey of St. Gall, Switzerland, under the direction of the scribe Folchardus, usually modernized as Folchart.Folchardus is attested to being a monk at St....

 (872) and the Golden Psalter (883). This Gallish style was unique, but lacked the level of technical mastery seen in other regions.

Sculpture and metalwork


Luxury Carolingian manuscripts were intended to have ornate covers in precious metal set with jewels around central carved ivory panels - sometimes these were donated some time after the manuscript itself was produced. Only a few such covers have survived intact, but many of the ivory panels survive detached, where the covers have been broken up for their materials. The subjects were often narrative religious scenes in vertical sections, largely derived from Late Antique paintings and carvings, as were those with more hieratic images derived from consular diptych
Consular diptych
In Late Antiquity a consular diptych was a particular type of diptych which could function as a writing tablet but was also intended as a deluxe commemorative object, commissioned by a consul ordinarius and then distributed to reward those who had supported his candidature as...

s and other imperial art, such as the front and back covers of the Lorsch Gospels, which adapt a 6th century Imperial triumph to the triumph of Christ and the Virgin.

Charlemagne revived large-scale bronze casting when he created a foundry at Aachen
Aachen
Aachen has historically been a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and the place of coronation of the Kings of Germany. Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost town of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, ...

 which cast the doors for his palace chapel
Palatine Chapel in Aachen
The Palatine Chapel is an Early Medieval chapel that is the remaining component of Charlemagne's Palace of Aachen. Although the palace no longer exists, the chapel has been incorporated into the Aachen Cathedral, Germany. It is the city's major landmark and the central monument of the Carolingian...

, in imitation of Roman designs. The chapel also had a now lost life-size crucifix, with the figure of Christ in gold, the first known work of this type, which was to become so important a feature of medieval church art. Probably a wooden figure was mechanically gilded
Gilding
The term gilding covers a number of decorative techniques for applying fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give a thin coating of gold. A gilded object is described as "gilt"...

, as with the Ottonian Golden Madonna of Essen
Golden Madonna of Essen
The Golden Madonna of Essen is a sculpture with a wooden core covered all over with sheets of thin gold leaf of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus...

.

One of the finest examples of Carolingian goldsmiths' work is the Golden Altar (824–859) (picture:altar), also known as the Paliotto, in the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio
The Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio is a church in Milan, northern Italy.-History:One of the most ancient churches in Milan, it was built by St. Ambrose in 379-386, in an area where numerous martyrs of the Roman persecutions had been buried. The first name of the church was in fact Basilica...

 in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. The altars four sides are decorated with images in gold and silver repoussé, framed by borders of filigree
Filigree
Filigree is a delicate kind of jewellery metalwork made with twisted threads usually of gold and silver or stitching of the same curving motifs. It often suggests lace, and in recent centuries remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork, and French from 1660 to the late 19th century...

, precious stones and enamel
Vitreous enamel
Vitreous enamel, also porcelain enamel in U.S. English, is a material made by fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850 °C...

.

Mosaics and frescos



Mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

s installed in Charlemagne's palatine chapel
Palatine Chapel in Aachen
The Palatine Chapel is an Early Medieval chapel that is the remaining component of Charlemagne's Palace of Aachen. Although the palace no longer exists, the chapel has been incorporated into the Aachen Cathedral, Germany. It is the city's major landmark and the central monument of the Carolingian...

 showed an enthroned Christ worshipped by the Evangelist's symbols and the twenty-four elders from the Apocalypse
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

. This mosaic no longer survives, but an over-restored one remains in the apse
Apse
In architecture, the apse is a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome...

 of the oratory
Oratory (worship)
An oratory is a Christian room for prayer, from the Latin orare, to pray.-Catholic church:In the Roman Catholic Church, an oratory is a structure other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass...

 at Germigny-des-Prés
Germigny-des-Prés
Germigny-des-Prés is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.-Carolingian architecture:The oratory at Germigny-des-Prés was built by Bishop Theodulf of Orléans in 806 as part of his palace complex within the Gallo-Roman villa in Germaniacus...

 (806) which shows the Ark of the Covenant
Ark of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant , also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a chest described in Book of Exodus as solely containing the Tablets of Stone on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed...

 adored by angels, discovered in 1820 under a coat of plaster.

The villa to which the oratory was attached belonged to a key associate of Charlemagne, Bishop Theodulf of Orléans
Theodulf of Orléans
Theodulf of Orléans , was the Bishop of Orléans during the reign of Charlemagne and Louis the Pious...

. It was destroyed later in the century, but had fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

s of the Seven liberal arts, the Four Seasons
Season
A season is a division of the year, marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight.Seasons result from the yearly revolution of the Earth around the Sun and the tilt of the Earth's axis relative to the plane of revolution...

, and the Mappa Mundi
Mappa mundi
Mappa mundi is a general term used to describe medieval European maps of the world. These maps range in size and complexity from simple schematic maps an inch or less across to elaborate wall maps, the largest of which was 11 ft. in diameter...

. We know from written sources of other fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

s in churches and palaces, nearly all completely lost. Charlemagne's Aachen palace contained a wall painting of the Liberal Arts
Liberal arts
The term liberal arts refers to those subjects which in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free citizen to study. Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic were the core liberal arts. In medieval times these subjects were extended to include mathematics, geometry, music and astronomy...

, as well as narrative scenes from his war in Spain. The palace of Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious
Louis the Pious , also called the Fair, and the Debonaire, was the King of Aquitaine from 781. He was also King of the Franks and co-Emperor with his father, Charlemagne, from 813...

 at Ingelheim contained historical images from antiquity to the time of Charlemagne, and the palace church contained typological
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 scenes of the Old and New Testaments juxtaposed with one another.

Fragmentary paintings have survived at Auxerre
Auxerre
Auxerre is a commune in the Bourgogne region in north-central France, between Paris and Dijon. It is the capital of the Yonne department.Auxerre's population today is about 45,000...

, Coblenz, Lorsch
Lorsch
Lorsch is a town in the Bergstraße district in Hesse, Germany, 60 km south of Frankfurt. Lorsch is well known for the Lorsch Abbey, which has been named a World Heritage Site.-Location:...

, Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

, Fulda
Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

, Corvey, Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Müstair
Müstair
Müstair is a village in the Val Müstair municipality in the district of Inn in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. In 2009 Müstair merged with Fuldera, Lü, Switzerland, Santa Maria Val Müstair, Tschierv and Valchava to form Val Müstair....

, Mals
Mals
Mals is a comune in South Tyrol in the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 80 km northwest of Trento and about 70 km northwest of Bolzano, on the border with Switzerland and Austria.-Geography:...

, Naturns
Naturns
Naturns is a comune in the province of South Tyrol in the Italian region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, located about 70 km north of the city of Trento and about 40 km northwest of the city of Bolzano.-Geography:...

, Cividale, Brescia
Brescia
Brescia is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, between the Mella and the Naviglio, with a population of around 197,000. It is the second largest city in Lombardy, after the capital, Milan...

 and Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

.

Spolia



Spolia
Spolia
Spolia is a modern art-historical term used to describe the re-use of earlier building material or decorative sculpture on new monuments...

is the Latin term for "spoils" and is used to refer to the taking or appropriation of ancient monumental or other art works for new uses or locations. We know that many marbles and columns were brought from Rome northward during this period.

Perhaps the most famous example of Carolingian spolia is the tale of an equestrian statue. In Rome, Charlemagne had seen the Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius is an ancient Roman statue in the Campidoglio, Rome, Italy. It is made of bronze and stands 3.5 m tall. Although the emperor is mounted, it exhibits many similarities to standing statues of Augustus...

 in the Lateran Palace
Lateran Palace
The Lateran Palace , formally the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran , is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence....

. It was the only surviving statue of a pre-Christian Roman Emperor because it was mistakenly thought, at the time, to be that of Constantine and thus held great accord—Charlemagne thus brought an equestrian statue from Ravenna
Ravenna
Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy and the second largest comune in Italy by land area, although, at , it is little more than half the size of the largest comune, Rome...

, then believed to be that of Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great
Theodoric the Great was king of the Ostrogoths , ruler of Italy , regent of the Visigoths , and a viceroy of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, to Aachen, to match the statue of "Constantine" in Rome.