Medieval art

Medieval art

Overview
The medieval art of the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 in Europe
Western art history
Western art is the art of the North American and European countries, and art created in the forms accepted by those countries.Written histories of Western art often begin with the art of the Ancient Middle East, Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Aegean civilisations, dating from the 3rd millennium BC...

, and at times the Middle East and North Africa. It includes major art movements and periods, national and regional art, genres, revivals, the artists crafts, and the artists themselves.

Art historians attempt to classify medieval art into major periods and styles, often with some difficulty.
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The medieval art of the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 in Europe
Western art history
Western art is the art of the North American and European countries, and art created in the forms accepted by those countries.Written histories of Western art often begin with the art of the Ancient Middle East, Ancient Egypt and the Ancient Aegean civilisations, dating from the 3rd millennium BC...

, and at times the Middle East and North Africa. It includes major art movements and periods, national and regional art, genres, revivals, the artists crafts, and the artists themselves.

Art historians attempt to classify medieval art into major periods and styles, often with some difficulty. A generally accepted scheme includes Early Christian art, 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...

, Byzantine art
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....

, 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...

, 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...

 and 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 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...

, as well as many other periods within these central styles. In addition each region, mostly during the period in the process of becoming nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

s or cultures, had its own distinct artistic style, such as 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...

 or Norse art
Norse art
Norse art is a blanket term for the artistic styles in Scandinavia during the Germanic Iron Age, the Viking Age , and sometimes even used when describing objects from the Nordic Bronze Age...

.

Medieval art was produced in many media, and the works that remain in large numbers include sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

, 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, stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

, metalwork and 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, all of which have had a higher survival rate than other media like 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...

 wall-paintings, work in precious metals or textiles, including tapestry
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

. Especially in the early part of the period, works in the so-called "minor arts" or decorative arts, such as metalwork, ivory carving, 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...

 and embroidery
Embroidery
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins....

 using precious metals, were probably more highly valued than paintings or monumental sculpture
Monumental sculpture
The term monumental sculpture is often used in art history and criticism, but not always consistently. It combines two concepts, one of function, and one of size, and may include an element of a third more subjective concept. It is often used for all sculptures that are large...

.

Medieval art in Europe grew out of the artistic heritage of the Roman Empire
Roman art
Roman art has the visual arts made in Ancient Rome, and in the territories of the Roman Empire. Major forms of Roman art are architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work...

 and the iconographic traditions of the early Christian church. These sources were mixed with the vigorous "Barbarian" artistic culture of Northern Europe to produce a remarkable artistic legacy. Indeed the history of medieval art can be seen as the history of the interplay between the elements of classical, early Christian and "barbarian" art. Apart from the formal aspects of classicism, there was a continuous tradition of realistic depiction of objects that survived in Byzantine art throughout the period, while in the West it appears intermittently, combining and sometimes competing with new expressionist possibilities developed in Western Europe and the Northern legacy of energetic decorative elements. The period ended with the self-perceived Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 recovery of the skills and values of classical art, and the artistic legacy of the Middle Ages was then disparaged for some centuries. Since a revival of interest and understanding in the 19th century it has been seen as a period of enormous achievement that underlies the development of later Western art.

Overview



The Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 saw a decrease in prosperity, stability and population in the first centuries of the period—to about 800, and then a fairly steady and general increase until the massive setback of the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 around 1350, which is estimated to have killed at least a third of the overall population in Europe, with generally higher rates in the south and lower in the north. Many regions did not regain their former population levels until the 17th century. The population of Europe is estimated to have reached a low point of about 18 million in 650, doubling by 1000, and reaching over 70 million in 1340, just before the Black Death. In 1450 it was still only 50 million. To these figures, Northern Europe, especially Britain, contributed a lower proportion than today, and Southern Europe, including France, a higher one. The increase in prosperity, for those who survived, was much less affected by the Black Death. Until about the 11th century most of Europe was short of agricultural labour, with large amounts of unused land, and the Medieval Warm Period
Medieval Warm Period
The Medieval Warm Period , Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, that may also have been related to other climate events around the world during that time, including in China, New Zealand, and other countries lasting from...

 benefited agriculture until about 1315.
The medieval period eventually saw the falling away of the invasions and incursions from outside the area that characterized the first millennium. The Islamic conquests of the 6th and 7th century suddenly and permanently removed all of North Africa from the Western world, and over the rest of the period Islamic peoples gradually took over the Byzantine Empire, until by the end of the Middle Ages Catholic Europe, having regained the Iberian peninsula in the southwest, was once again under Muslim threat from the southeast.

At the start of the medieval period most significant works of art were very rare and costly objects associated with secular elites, monasteries or major churches, and if religious, largely produced by monks. By the end of the Middle Ages works of considerable artistic interest could be found in small villages and significant numbers of bourgeois homes in towns, and their production was in many places an important local industry, with artists from the clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 now the exception. However the Rule of St Benedict
Rule of St Benedict
The Rule of Saint Benedict is a book of precepts written by St. Benedict of Nursia for monks living communally under the authority of an abbot. Since about the 7th century it has also been adopted by communities of women...

 permitted the sale of works of art by monasteries, and it is clear that throughout the period monks might produce art, including secular works, commercially for a lay market, and monasteries would equally hire lay specialists where necessary.

The impression may be left by the surviving works that almost all medieval art was religious. This is far from the case; though the church became very wealthy over the Middle Ages and was prepared at times to spend lavishly on art, there was also much secular art of equivalent quality which has suffered from a far higher rate of wear and tear, loss and destruction. The Middle Ages generally lacked the concept of preserving older works for their artistic merit, as opposed to their association with a saint or founder figure, and the following periods of the Renaissance and Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 tended to disparage medieval art. Most luxury illuminated manuscripts of the Early Middle Ages had lavish book-covers in precious metal, ivory and jewels; the re-bound pages and 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 for the covers have survived in far greater numbers than complete covers, which have mostly been stripped off for their valuable materials at some point.
Most churches have been rebuilt, often several times, but medieval palaces and large houses have been lost at a far greater rate, which is also true of their fittings and decoration. In England, churches survive largely intact from every century since the 7th, and in considerable numbers for the later ones—the city of Norwich
Norwich
Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...

 alone has 40 medieval churches—but of the dozens of royal palaces none survive from earlier than the 11th century, and only a handful of remnants from the rest of the period. The situation is similar in most of Europe, though the 14th century Palais des Papes
Palais des Papes
The Palais des Papes is a historical palace in Avignon, southern France, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe....

 in Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 survives largely intact. Many of the longest running scholarly disputes over the date and origin of individual works relate to secular pieces, because they are so much rarer - the Anglo-Saxon Fuller Brooch
Fuller brooch
The Fuller Brooch is a piece of late 9th century Anglo-Saxon art of unknown provenance.It is a large disc made of hammered sheet silver inlaid with black niello and with a diameter of 11.4 cm. Its centre roundel is decorated with personifications of the five senses. In the centre is Sight with...

 was refused by the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 as an implausible fake, and small free-standing secular bronze sculptures are so rare that the date, origin and even authenticity of both of the two best examples has been argued over for decades.

The use of valuable materials is a constant in medieval art; until the end of the period, far more was typically spent on buying them than on paying the artists, even if these were not monks performing their duties. Gold was used for objects for churches and palaces, personal jewellery and the fittings of clothes, and—fixed to the back of glass tesserae—as a solid background for 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, or applied as gold leaf
Gold leaf
right|thumb|250px|[[Burnishing]] gold leaf with an [[agate]] stone tool, during the water gilding processGold leaf is gold that has been hammered into extremely thin sheets and is often used for gilding. Gold leaf is available in a wide variety of karats and shades...

 to miniatures in manuscripts and panel paintings. Many objects using precious metals were made in the knowledge that their bullion value might be realized at a future point—only near the end of the period could money be invested other than in real estate
Real estate
In general use, esp. North American, 'real estate' is taken to mean "Property consisting of land and the buildings on it, along with its natural resources such as crops, minerals, or water; immovable property of this nature; an interest vested in this; an item of real property; buildings or...

, except at great risk or by committing usury
Usury
Usury Originally, when the charging of interest was still banned by Christian churches, usury simply meant the charging of interest at any rate . In countries where the charging of interest became acceptable, the term came to be used for interest above the rate allowed by law...

.
The even more expensive pigment
Pigment
A pigment is a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light as the result of wavelength-selective absorption. This physical process differs from fluorescence, phosphorescence, and other forms of luminescence, in which a material emits light.Many materials selectively absorb...

 ultramarine
Ultramarine
Ultramarine is a blue pigment consisting primarily of a double silicate of aluminium and sodium with some sulfides or sulfates, and occurring in nature as a proximate component of lapis lazuli...

, made from ground lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli is a relatively rare semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense blue color....

 obtainable only from Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, was used lavishly in the Gothic period, more often for the traditional blue outer mantle of the Virgin Mary than for skies. Ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

, often painted, was an important material until the very end of the period, well illustrating the shift in luxury art to secular works; at the beginning of the period most uses were shifting 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 to religious objects such as book-covers, reliquaries and croziers, but in the Gothic period secular mirror-cases, caskets and decorated combs become common among the well-off. As thin ivory panels carved in 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...

 could rarely be recycled for another work, the number of survivals is relatively high—the same is true of manuscript pages, although these were often re-cycled by scraping, whereupon they become palimpsest
Palimpsest
A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word "palimpsest" comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος originally compounded from πάλιν and ψάω literally meaning “scraped...

s.

Even these basic materials were costly: when the Anglo-Saxon Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey
Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Abbey
Wearmouth-Jarrow is a twin-foundation English monastery, located on the River Wear in Sunderland and the River Tyne at Jarrow respectively, in the Kingdom of Northumbria . Its formal name is The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Wearmouth-Jarrow...

 planned to create three copies of the bible in 692—of which one survives as the Codex Amiatinus
Codex Amiatinus
The Codex Amiatinus, designated by siglum A, is the earliest surviving manuscript of the nearly complete Bible in the Latin Vulgate version, and is considered to be the most accurate copy of St. Jerome's text. It is missing the Book of Baruch. It was produced in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of...

—the first step necessary was to plan to breed the cattle to supply the 1,600 calves
Calf
Calves are the young of domestic cattle. Calves are reared to become adult cattle, or are slaughtered for their meat, called veal.-Terminology:...

 to give the skin for the vellum
Vellum
Vellum is mammal skin prepared for writing or printing on, to produce single pages, scrolls, codices or books. It is generally smooth and durable, although there are great variations depending on preparation, the quality of the skin and the type of animal used...

 required.

Paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

 became available in the last centuries of the period, but was also extremely expensive by today's standards; woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s sold to ordinary pilgrims at shrines were often matchbook
Matchbook
A matchbook is a small paperboard folder enclosing a quantity of matches and having a coarse striking surface on the exterior...

 size or smaller. Modern dendrochronology
Dendrochronology
Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree-rings. Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year...

 has revealed that most of the oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

 for panels used in Early Netherlandish painting
Early Netherlandish painting
Early Netherlandish painting refers to the work of artists active in the Low Countries during the 15th- and early 16th-century Northern renaissance, especially in the flourishing Burgundian cities of Bruges and Ghent...

 of the 15th century was felled in the Vistula
Vistula
The Vistula is the longest and the most important river in Poland, at 1,047 km in length. The watershed area of the Vistula is , of which lies within Poland ....

 basin in Poland, from where it was shipped down the river and across the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

s to Flemish
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 ports, before being seasoned for several years.

Art in the Middle Ages is a broad subject and art historians traditionally divide it in several large-scale phases, styles or periods. The period of the Middle Ages neither begins nor ends neatly at any particular date, nor at the same time in all regions, and the same is true for the major phases of art within the period. The major phases are covered in the following sections.

Early Christian and Late Antique art



Early Christian art, more generally described as Late Antique art
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

, covers the period from about 200 (before which no distinct Christian art survives), until the onset of a fully Byzantine style in about 500. There continue to be different views as to when the medieval period begins during this time, both in terms of general history and specifically art history, but it is most often placed late in the period. In the course of the 4th century Christianity went from being a persecuted popular sect to the official religion of the Empire, adapting existing Roman styles and often iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

, from both popular and Imperial art. From the start of the period the main survivals of Christian art are the tomb-paintings in popular styles of the catacombs of Rome
Catacombs of Rome
The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under or near Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, they began in the 2nd century, much...

, but by the end there were a number of lavish mosaics in churches built under Imperial patronage. Over this period imperial Late Roman art
Roman art
Roman art has the visual arts made in Ancient Rome, and in the territories of the Roman Empire. Major forms of Roman art are architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work...

 went through a strikingly "baroque" phase, and then largely abandoned classical style and Greek realism in favour of a more mystical and hieratic style—a process that was well underway before Christianity became a major influence on imperial art. Influences from Eastern parts of the Empire—Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 and beyond, and also a robust "Italic" vernacular tradition, contributed to this process. Figures are mostly seen frontally staring out at the viewer, where classical art tended to show a profile view - the change was eventually seen even on coins. The individuality of portraits, a great strength of Roman art, declines sharply, and the anatomy and drapery of figures is shown with much less realism. The models from which medieval Northern Europe in particular formed its idea of "Roman" style were nearly all portable Late Antique works, and the Late Antique carved sarcophagi found all over the former Roman Empire; the determination to find earlier "purer" classical models, was a key element in the art all'antica of the Renaissance.

Ivory reliefs

Byzantine art


Byzantine art
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....

 is the art of the Greek-speaking 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...

 formed after the division of the Roman Empire between Eastern and Western halves, and sometimes of parts of Italy under Byzantine rule. It emerges from the Late Antique period in about 500 and soon formed a tradition distinct from that of Catholic Europe but with great influence over it. In the early medieval period the best Byzantine art, often from the large Imperial workshops, represented an ideal of sophistication and technique which European patrons tried to emulate. During the period of Byzantine iconoclasm in 730-843 the vast majority of icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s (sacred images usually painted on wood) were destroyed; so little remains that today any discovery sheds new understanding, and most remaining works are in Italy (Rome and 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...

 etc.), or Egypt at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai
Saint Catherine's Monastery lies on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of a gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai in the city of Saint Catherine in Egypt's South Sinai Governorate. The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

.

Byzantine art was extremely conservative, for religious and cultural reasons, but retained a continuous tradition of Greek realism, which contended with a strong anti-realist and hieratic impulse. After the resumption of icon production in 843 until 1453 the Byzantine art tradition continued with relatively few changes, despite, or because of, the slow decline of the Empire. There was a notable revival of classical style in works of 10th century court art like the Paris Psalter
Paris Psalter
The Paris Psalter is a Byzantine illuminated manuscript containing 449 folios and 14 full-page miniatures "in a grand, almost classical style", as the Encyclopædia Britannica put it....

, and throughout the period manuscript illumination shows parallel styles, often used by the same artist, for iconic figures in framed miniatures and more informal small scenes or figures added unframed in the margins of the text in a much more realist style. Monumental sculpture
Monumental sculpture
The term monumental sculpture is often used in art history and criticism, but not always consistently. It combines two concepts, one of function, and one of size, and may include an element of a third more subjective concept. It is often used for all sculptures that are large...

 with figures remained a taboo in Byzantine art; hardly any exceptions are known. But small ivory reliefs, almost all in the iconic mode (the Harbaville Triptych
Harbaville Triptych
The Harbaville Triptych is a Byzantine ivory triptych of the middle of the 10th century AD with a Deesis and other saints, now in the Louvre. Traces of colouring can still be seen on some figures...

 is of similar date to the Paris Psalter, but very different in style), were a speciality, as was relief decoration on bowls and other metal objects.
The Byzantine Empire produced much of the finest art of the Middle Ages in terms of quality of material and workmanship, with court production centred on Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, although some art historians have questioned the assumption, still commonly made, that all work of the best quality with no indication as to origin was produced in the capital. Byzantine art's crowning achievement were the monumental 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 and 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 inside domed churches, most of which have not survived due to natural disasters and the appropriation of churches to mosques.
Byzantine art exercised a continuous trickle of influence on Western European art, and the splendours of the Byzantine court and monasteries, even at the end of the Empire, provided a model for Western rulers and secular and clerical patrons. For example Byzantine silk
Byzantine silk
Byzantine silk is silk woven in the Byzantine Empire from about the 4th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.The Byzantine capital of Constantinople was the first significant silk-weaving center in Europe. Silk was one of the most important commodities in the Byzantine economy, used by...

 textiles, often woven or embroidered with designs of both animal and human figures, the former often reflecting traditions originating much further east, were unexcelled in the Christian world until almost the end of the Empire. These were produced, but probably not entirely so, in Imperial workshops in Constantinople, about whose operations we know next to nothing—similar workshops are often conjectured for other arts, with even less evidence. Some other decorative arts were less developed; Byzantine ceramics
Ceramic art
In art history, ceramics and ceramic art mean art objects such as figures, tiles, and tableware made from clay and other raw materials by the process of pottery. Some ceramic products are regarded as fine art, while others are regarded as decorative, industrial or applied art objects, or as...

 rarely rise above the level of attractive folk art
Folk art
Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic....

, despite the Ancient Greek heritage
Pottery of Ancient Greece
As the result of its relative durability, pottery is a large part of the archaeological record of Ancient Greece, and because there is so much of it it has exerted a disproportionately large influence on our understanding of Greek society...

 and the impressive future in the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 period of İznik wares
Iznik pottery
İznik pottery, named after the town in western Anatolia where it was made, is highly decorated ceramics that was produced between the late 15th and 17th centuries....

 and other types of pottery.

The Coptic art
Coptic art
Coptic art is a term used either for the art of Egypt produced in the early Christian era or for the art produced by the Coptic Christians themselves. Coptic art is most well known for its wall-paintings, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, and metalwork, much of which survives in monasteries and...

 of Egypt took a different path; after the Coptic Church separated in the mid-5th century it was never again supported by the state, and native Egyptian influences dominated to produce a completely non-realist and somewhat naive style of large-eyed figures floating in blank space. This was capable of great expressiveness, and took the "Eastern" component of Byzantine art to its logical conclusions. Coptic decoration used intricate geometric designs, often anticipating Islamic art. Because of the exceptionally good preservation of Egyptian burials, we know more about the textiles used by the less well-off in Egypt than anywhere else. These were often elaborately decorated with figurative and patterned designs. Other local traditions in Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and elsewhere showed generally less sophistication, but often more vigour than the art of Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, and sometimes, especially in architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, seem to have had influence even in Western Europe. For example figurative monumental sculpture on the outside of churches appears here some centuries before it is seen in the West.

Migration Period through Christianization


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...

 describes the art of the "barbarian
Barbarian
Barbarian and savage are terms used to refer to a person who is perceived to be uncivilized. The word is often used either in a general reference to a member of a nation or ethnos, typically a tribal society as seen by an urban civilization either viewed as inferior, or admired as a noble savage...

" Germanic and Eastern-European peoples who were on the move, and then settling within the former Roman Empire, during the Migration Period from about 300-700; the blanket term covers early 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...

, Visigothic art
Visigothic art
The Visigoths entered Hispania in 415, and they rose to be the dominant people there until the Moorish invasion of 711 brought their kingdom to an end.This period in Iberian art is dominated by their style...

, Norse art
Norse art
Norse art is a blanket term for the artistic styles in Scandinavia during the Germanic Iron Age, the Viking Age , and sometimes even used when describing objects from the Nordic Bronze Age...

, Merovingian art, all of which made use of the animal style
Animal style
Animal style art is characterized by its emphasis on animal and bird motifs, and the term describes an approach to decoration which existed from China to Northern Europe in the early Iron Age, and the barbarian art of the Migration Period...

, which by this period had reached a much more abstracted form than in earlier Scythian art
Scythian art
Scythian art is art, primarily decorative objects, such as jewelry, produced by the nomadic tribes in the area known classically as Scythia, which was centred on the Pontic-Caspian steppe and ranged from modern Kazakhstan to the Baltic coast of modern Poland and to Georgia...

 or La Tène style. Most artworks were small and portable and those surviving are mostly jewellery and metalwork, with the art expressed in geometric or schematic designs, often beautifully conceived and made, with few human figures and no attempt at realism. The early Anglo-Saxon grave goods from Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo
Sutton Hoo, near to Woodbridge, in the English county of Suffolk, is the site of two 6th and early 7th century cemeteries. One contained an undisturbed ship burial including a wealth of Anglo-Saxon artefacts of outstanding art-historical and archaeological significance, now held in the British...

 are among the best examples.

As the "barbarian" peoples were Christianized
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

, these influences interacted with the post-classical Mediterranean Christian artistic tradition, and new forms like the 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...

, and indeed coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

s, which attempted to emulate Roman provincial coins
Roman provincial coins
Roman Provincial coins are coins that were minted in the Roman Empire by civic authorities rather than by Imperial authorities. Often these coins were a continuation of the original currency system that existed prior to the arrival or conquest by the Romans....

 and Byzantine
Byzantine coinage
Byzantine currency, money used in the Eastern Roman Empire after the fall of the West, consisted of mainly two types of coins: the gold solidus and a variety of clearly valued bronze coins...

 types. Early coinage like the sceat
Sceat
Sceattas were small, thick silver coins minted in England, Frisia and Jutland during the Anglo-Saxon period.-History:Their name derives from an Old English word meaning 'wealth', which has been applied to these coins since the seventeenth century, based on interpretations of the law-code of King...

 shows designers completely unused to depicting a head in profile grappling with the problem in a variety of different ways. There are references to Anglo-Saxon wooden pagan statues, all now lost, and in Norse art the tradition of carved runestones was maintained after their conversion to Christianity. The Celtic Picts
Picts
The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Mediaeval people living in what is now eastern and northern Scotland. There is an association with the distribution of brochs, place names beginning 'Pit-', for instance Pitlochry, and Pictish stones. They are recorded from before the Roman conquest...

 of Scotland also carved stones
Pictish stones
Pictish stones are monumental stelae found in Scotland, mostly north of the Clyde-Forth line. These stones are the most visible remaining evidence of the Picts and are thought to date from the 6th to 9th centuries, a period during which the Picts became Christianized...

 before and after conversion, and the distinctive Anglo-Saxon and Irish tradition of large outdoor carved crosses
High cross
A high cross or standing cross is a free-standing Christian cross made of stone and often richly decorated. There was a unique Early Medieval tradition in Ireland and Britain of raising large sculpted stone crosses, usually outdoors...

 may reflect earlier pagan works. Viking art from later centuries in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

 and parts of the British Isles includes work from both pagan and Christian backgrounds, and was one of the last flowerings of this broad group of styles.

Insular art



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...

 refers to the distinct style found in Ireland and Britain from about the 7th century, to about the 10th century, lasting later in Ireland, and parts of Scotland. The style saw a fusion between the traditions of Celtic art
Celtic art
Celtic art is the art associated with the peoples known as Celts; those who spoke the Celtic languages in Europe from pre-history through to the modern period, as well as the art of ancient peoples whose language is uncertain, but have cultural and stylistic similarities with speakers of Celtic...

, the 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...

 of the Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 and the Christian forms of the book, high cross
High cross
A high cross or standing cross is a free-standing Christian cross made of stone and often richly decorated. There was a unique Early Medieval tradition in Ireland and Britain of raising large sculpted stone crosses, usually outdoors...

es and liturgical metalwork.
Extremely detailed geometric, 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...

, and stylised animal decoration, with forms derived from secular metalwork like brooch
Brooch
A brooch ; also known in ancient times as a fibula; is a decorative jewelry item designed to be attached to garments. It is usually made of metal, often silver or gold but sometimes bronze or some other material...

es, spread boldly across manuscripts, usually 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 like the Book of Kells
Book of Kells
The Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament together with various prefatory texts and tables. It was created by Celtic monks ca. 800 or slightly earlier...

, with whole carpet page
Carpet page
Carpet pages are a characteristic feature of Insular illuminated manuscripts. They are pages of mainly geometrical ornamentation, which may include repeated animal forms, typically placed at the beginning of each of the four Gospels in Gospel Books...

s devoted to such designs, and the development of the large decorated and 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...

. There were very few human figures—most often these were 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 these were crude, even when closely following Late Antique models.

The insular manuscript style was transmitted to the continent by the Hiberno-Scottish mission
Hiberno-Scottish mission
The Hiberno-Scottish mission was a mission led by Irish and Scottish monks which spread Christianity and established monasteries in Great Britain and continental Europe during the Middle Ages...

, and its anti-classical energy was extremely important in the formation of later medieval styles. In most Late Antique manuscripts text and decoration were kept clearly apart, though some initials began to be enlarged and elaborated, but major insular manuscripts sometimes take a whole page for a single initial or the first few words (see illustration) at beginnings of gospels or other sections in a book. Allowing decoration a "right to roam" was to be very influential on Romanesque and Gothic art in all media.

The buildings of the monasteries for which the insular gospel books were made were then small and could fairly be called primitive, especially in Ireland. There increasingly were other decorations to churches, where possible in precious metals, and a handful of these survive, like the Ardagh Chalice
Ardagh Chalice
The Ardagh Hoard, best known for the Ardagh Chalice, is a hoard of metalwork from the 8th and 9th centuries, found in 1868 and now in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin...

, together with a larger number of extremely ornate and finely made pieces of secular high-status jewellery, the Celtic brooch
Celtic brooch
The Celtic brooch, more properly called the penannular brooch, and its closely related type, the pseudo-penannular brooch, are types of brooch clothes fasteners, often rather large...

es probably worn mainly by men, of which the Tara Brooch
Tara Brooch
The Tara Brooch is a Celtic brooch of about 700 AD generally considered to be the most impressive of over 50 elaborate Irish brooches to have been discovered...

 is the most spectacular.

"Franco-Saxon" is a term for a school of late Carolingian illumination in north-eastern France that used insular-style decoration, including super-large initials, sometimes in combination with figurative images typical of contemporary French styles. The "most tenacious of all the Carolingian styles", it continued until as late as the 11th century.

Giant initials

The influence of Islamic art



Islamic art
Islamic art
Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onwards by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by or ruled by culturally Islamic populations...

 during the Middle Ages falls outside the scope of this article, but it was widely imported and admired by European elites, and its influence needs mention. Islamic art covers a wide variety of media including calligraphy, illustrated manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, metalwork and glass, and refers to the art of Muslim countries in the Near East, Islamic Spain, and Northern Africa, though by no means always Muslim artists or craftsmen. Glass production, for example, remained a Jewish speciality throughout the period, and Christian art, as in Coptic Egypt
Coptic art
Coptic art is a term used either for the art of Egypt produced in the early Christian era or for the art produced by the Coptic Christians themselves. Coptic art is most well known for its wall-paintings, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, and metalwork, much of which survives in monasteries and...

 continued, especially during the earlier centuries, keeping some contacts with Europe. There was an early formative stage from 600-900 and the development of regional styles from 900 onwards. Early Islamic art used mosaic artists and sculptors trained in the Byzantine and Coptic traditions. Instead of wall-paintings, Islamic art used painted tile
Tile
A tile is a manufactured piece of hard-wearing material such as ceramic, stone, metal, or even glass. Tiles are generally used for covering roofs, floors, walls, showers, or other objects such as tabletops...

s, from as early as 862-3 (at the Great Mosque of Kairouan
Kairouan
Kairouan , also known as Kirwan or al-Qayrawan , is the capital of the Kairouan Governorate in Tunisia. Referred to as the Islamic Cultural Capital, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was founded by the Arabs around 670...

 in modern Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

), which also spread to Europe. According to John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

, the Doge's Palace in Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 contains "three elements in exactly equal proportions — the Roman, the Lombard, and Arab. It is the central building of the world. ... the history of Gothic architecture is the history of the refinement and spiritualisation of Northern work under its influence".

Islamic rulers controlled at various points parts of Southern Italy and most of modern Spain and Portugal, as well as the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, all of which retained large Christian populations. The Christian Crusaders equally ruled Islamic populations. Crusader art is mainly a hybrid of Catholic and Byzantine styles, with little Islamic influence, but the Mozarabic art of Christians in Al Andaluz seems to show considerable influence from Islamic art, though the results are little like contemporary Islamic works. Islamic influence can also be traced in the mainstream of Western medieval art, for example in the Romanesque portal at Moissac
Moissac
Moissac is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France. It is famous world-wide mostly for the artistic heritage handed down by the ancient Saint-Pierre Abbey.-History:...

 in southern France, where it shows in both decorative elements, like the scalloped edges to the doorway, the circular decorations on the lintel above, and also in having Christ in Majesty surrounded by musicians, which was to become a common feature of Western heavenly scenes, and probably derives from images of Islamic kings on their diwan
Divan (furniture)
A divan is a piece of couch-like sitting furniture; or in the UK, a box-spring based bed....

. Calligraphy
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

, ornament and the decorative arts generally were more important than in the West. The Hispano-Moresque
Hispano-Moresque
Hispano-Moresque ware is a style of initially Islamic pottery created in Al Andalus or Muslim Spain, which continued to be produced under Christian rule in styles blending Islamic and European elements...

 pottery wares of Spain were first produced in Al-Andaluz, but Muslim potters then seem to have emigrated to the area of Christian Valencia, where they produced work that was exported to Christian elites across Europe; other types of Islamic luxury goods, notably silk textiles and carpets, came from the generally wealthier eastern Islamic world itself (the Islamic conduits to Europe west of the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

 were, however, not wealthier), with many passing through Venice. However, for the most part luxury products of the court culture such as silks, ivory, precious stones and jewels were imported to Europe only in an unfinished form and manufactured into the end product labelled as "eastern" by local medieval artisans. They were free from depictions of religious scenes and normally decorated with ornament
Ornament (architecture)
In architecture and decorative art, ornament is a decoration used to embellish parts of a building or object. Large figurative elements such as monumental sculpture and their equivalents in decorative art are excluded from the term; most ornament does not include human figures, and if present they...

, which made them easy to accept in the West, indeed by the late Middle Ages there was a fashion for pseudo-Kufic
Pseudo-Kufic
Pseudo-Kufic, or Kufesque, also sometimes Pseudo-Arabic, refers to imitations of the Arabic Kufic script, or sometimes Arabic cursive script, made in a non-Arabic context, during the Middle-Ages or the Renaissance: "Imitations of Arabic in European art are often described as pseudo-Kufic, borrowing...

 imitations of Arabic script used decoratively in Western art.

Pre-Romanesque art



Pre-Romanesque is a term for architecture and to some extent pictorial and portable art found initially in Southern Europe (Spain, Italy and Southern France) between the Late Antique period to the start of the Romanesque period in the 11th century. Northern European art gradually forms part of the movement after Christianization
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 as it assimilates post-classical styles. The Carolingian art
Carolingian art
Carolingian art comes from the Frankish Empire in the period of roughly 120 years from about AD 780 to 900 — during the reign of Charlemagne and his immediate heirs — popularly known as the Carolingian Renaissance. The art was produced by and for the court circle and a group of...

 of 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...

, especially modern France and Germany, from roughly 780-900 takes its name from 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 is an art of the court circle and a few monastic centres under Imperial patronage, that consciously sought to revive "Roman" styles and standards as befitted the new Empire of the West
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

. Some centres of Carolingian production also pioneered expressive styles in works like 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...

 and Ebbo Gospels
Ebbo Gospels
The Ebbo Gospels is an early Carolingian illuminated Gospel book known for an unusual, energetic style of illustration...

. Christian monumental sculpture
Monumental sculpture
The term monumental sculpture is often used in art history and criticism, but not always consistently. It combines two concepts, one of function, and one of size, and may include an element of a third more subjective concept. It is often used for all sculptures that are large...

 is recorded for the first time, and depiction of the human figure in narrative scenes became confident for the first time in Northern art. Carolingian architecture
Carolingian architecture
Carolingian architecture is the style of north European Pre-Romanesque architecture belonging to the period of the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries, when the Carolingian family dominated west European politics...

 produced larger buildings than had been seen since Roman times, and the westwork
Westwork
A westwork is the monumental, west-facing entrance section of a Carolingian, Ottonian, or Romanesque church. The exterior consists of multiple stories between two towers. The interior includes an entrance vestibule, a chapel, and a series of galleries overlooking the nave...

 and other innovations.

After the collapse of the dynasty there was a hiatus before a new dynasty brought a revival in Germany with 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...

, again centred on the court and monasteries, with art that moved towards great expressiveness through simple forms that achieve monumentality even in small works like ivory
Ivory
Ivory is a term for dentine, which constitutes the bulk of the teeth and tusks of animals, when used as a material for art or manufacturing. Ivory has been important since ancient times for making a range of items, from ivory carvings to false teeth, fans, dominoes, joint tubes, piano keys and...

 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 and manuscript 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...

, above all those of the Reichenau School
Reichenau Island
Reichenau Island lies in Lake Constance in southern Germany, at approximately . It lies between Gnadensee and Untersee, two parts of Lake Constance, almost due west of the city of Konstanz. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway that was completed in 1838...

, such as the Pericopes of Henry II
Pericopes of Henry II
The Pericopes of Henry II is a luxurious medieval illuminated manuscript made for Henry II, the last Ottonian Holy Roman Emperor, made c. 1002 – 1012 AD...

 (1002–1012). Later 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...

 in England, from about 900, was expressive in a very different way, with agitated figures and even drapery perhaps best shown in the many pen drawings in manuscripts. The Mozarabic art
Mozarabic art and architecture
Mozarabic Art refers to art of Mozarabs , Iberian Christians living in Al-Andalus, the Muslim conquered territories in the period that comprises from the Arab invasion of the Iberian Peninsula to the end of the 11th century, adopted some Arab customs without converting to Islam, preserving their...

 of Christian Spain had strong Islamic influence, and a complete lack of interest in realism in its brilliantly coloured miniatures, where figures are presented as entirely flat patterns. Both of these were to influence the formation in France of the Romanesque style.

Romanesque art


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...

 developed in the period between about 1000 to the rise of Gothic art in the 12th century, in conjunction with the rise of monasticism in Western Europe. The style developed initially in France, but spread to Christian Spain, England, Flanders, Germany, Italy, and elsewhere to become the first medieval style found all over Europe, though with regional differences. The arrival of the style coincided with a great increase in church-building, and in the size of cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

s and larger churches; many of these were rebuilt in subsequent periods, but often reached roughly their present size in the Romanesque period. Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 is dominated by thick walls, massive structures conceived as a single organic form, with vault
Vault (architecture)
A Vault is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The parts of a vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance. When vaults are built underground, the ground gives all the resistance required...

ed roofs and round-headed windows and arches.

Figurative sculpture, originally colourfully painted, plays an integral and important part in these buildings, in the capitals
Capital (architecture)
In architecture the capital forms the topmost member of a column . It mediates between the column and the load thrusting down upon it, broadening the area of the column's supporting surface...

 of columns, as well as around impressive portals
Portal (architecture)
Portal is a general term describing an opening in the walls of a building, gate or fortification, and especially a grand entrance to an important structure. Doors, metal gates or portcullis in the opening can be used to control entry or exit. The surface surrounding the opening may be made of...

, usually centred on a tympanum
Tympanum (architecture)
In architecture, a tympanum is the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, bounded by a lintel and arch. It often contains sculpture or other imagery or ornaments. Most architectural styles include this element....

 above the main doors, as at Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey
Vézelay Abbey was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne département in Burgundy, France. The Benedictine abbey church of Ste-Marie-Madeleine Vézelay Abbey (now known as Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine) was a Benedictine and Cluniac monastery in Vézelay in the Yonne...

 and Autun Cathedral. Reliefs are much more common than free-standing statues in stone, but Romanesque relief became much higher, with some elements fully detached from the wall behind. Large carvings also became important, especially painted wooden crucifix
Crucifix
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

es like the Gero Cross from the very start of the period, and figures of the Virgin Mary like the 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...

. Royalty and the higher clergy began to commission life-size effigies for tomb monuments. Some churches had massive pairs of bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 doors decorated with narrative relief panels, like the Gniezno Doors
Gniezno Doors
The Gniezno Doors are a pair of bronze doors at the entrance to Gniezno Cathedral in Gniezno, Poland, a Gothic building which the doors pre-date, having been carried over from an earlier building. They are decorated with eighteen scenes in bas-relief from the life of St...

 or those at Hildesheim
Hildesheim
Hildesheim is a city in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is located in the district of Hildesheim, about 30 km southeast of Hanover on the banks of the Innerste river, which is a small tributary of the Leine river...

, "the first decorated bronze doors cast in one piece in the West since Roman times", and arguably the finest before the Renaissance. Most churches were extensively frescoed; a typical scheme had Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty
Christ in Majesty, or Christ in Glory, in Latin Majestas Domini, is the Western Christian image of Christ seated on a throne as ruler of the world, always seen frontally in the centre of the composition, and often flanked by other sacred figures, whose membership changes over time and according to...

at the east (altar) end, a Last Judgement at the west end over the doors, and scenes from the Life of Christ
Life of Christ
The Life of Christ as a narrative cycle in Christian art comprises a number of different subjects, which were often grouped in series or cycles of works in a variety of media, narrating the life of Jesus on earth, as distinguished from the many other subjects in art showing the eternal life of...

facing typologically
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 matching 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...

 scenes on the nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

 walls. The "greatest surviving monument of Romanesque wall painting", much reduced from what was originally there, is in the Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe
Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe
The Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe is located in Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, in Poitou, France.-Description:The Romanesque church was begun in the mid 11th century and contains many beautiful 11th- and 12th-century murals which are still in a remarkable state of preservation...

 near Poitiers
Poitiers
Poitiers is a city on the Clain river in west central France. It is a commune and the capital of the Vienne department and of the Poitou-Charentes region. The centre is picturesque and its streets are interesting for predominant remains of historical architecture, especially from the Romanesque...

, where the rounded barrel vault
Barrel vault
A barrel vault, also known as a tunnel vault or a wagon vault, is an architectural element formed by the extrusion of a single curve along a given distance. The curves are typically circular in shape, lending a semi-cylindrical appearance to the total design...

 of the nave
Nave
In Romanesque and Gothic Christian abbey, cathedral basilica and church architecture, the nave is the central approach to the high altar, the main body of the church. "Nave" was probably suggested by the keel shape of its vaulting...

, the crypt
Crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

, portico
Portico
A portico is a porch leading to the entrance of a building, or extended as a colonnade, with a roof structure over a walkway, supported by columns or enclosed by walls...

 and other areas retain most of their paintings. An equivalent cycle in Sant'Angelo in Formis
Sant'Angelo in Formis
Sant'Angelo in Formis is an abbey in the municipality of Capua, southern Italy. The church, dedicated to St. Michael Archangel, lies on the westerns slopes of Monte Tifata....

 at Capua
Capua
Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain. Ancient Capua was situated where Santa Maria Capua Vetere is now...

 in southern Italy by Italian painters trained by Greeks illustrates the continuing predominance of Byzantine style in much of Italy.
Romanesque sculpture and painting is often extremely vigorous and expressive, and very inventive in terms of iconography
Iconography
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

—the subjects chosen and their treatment. Though many features absorbed from classical art form part of the Romanesque style, Romanesque artists rarely intended to achieve any sort of classical effect, except perhaps in Mosan art
Mosan art
Mosan art is a regional style of art from the valley of the Meuse in present-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Although the term applies to art from this region from all periods, it generally refers to Romanesque art, with Mosan Romanesque architecture, stone carving, metalwork, enamelling...

. As art became seen by a wider section of the population, and because of challenges from new heresies, art became more didactic, and the local church the "Poor Man's Bible
Poor Man's Bible
The term Poor Man's Bible has come into use in modern times to describe works of art within churches and cathedrals which either individually or collectively have been created to illustrate the teachings of the Bible for a largely illiterate population. These artworks may take the form of carvings,...

". At the same time grotesque beasts and monsters, and fights with or between them, were popular themes, to which religious meanings might be loosely attached, although this did not impress St Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

, who famously denounced such distractions in monasteries:
But in the cloister, in the sight of the reading monks, what is the point of such ridiculous monstrosity, the strange kind of shapely shapelessness? Why these unsightly monkeys, why these fierce lions, why the monstrous centaurs, why semi-humans, why spotted tigers, why fighting soldiers, why trumpeting huntsmen? …In short there is such a variety and such a diversity of strange shapes everywhere that we may prefer to read the marbles rather than the books.
He might well have known the miniature at left, which was produced at Cîteaux Abbey
Cîteaux Abbey
Cîteaux Abbey is a Roman Catholic abbey located in Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux, south of Dijon, France. Today it belongs to the Trappists, or Cistercians of the Strict Observance . The Cistercian order takes its name from this mother house of Cîteaux, earlier Cisteaux, near Nuits-Saint-Georges...

 before the young Bernard was transferred from there in 1115.

During the period typology
Typology (theology)
Typology in Christian theology and Biblical exegesis is a doctrine or theory concerning the relationship between the Old and New Testaments...

 became the dominant approach in theological literature and art to interpreting the bible, with 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...

 incidents seen as pre-figurations of aspects of the life of Christ, and shown paired with their corresponding New Testament episode. Often the iconography of the New Testament scene was based on traditions and models originating in Late Antiquity, but the iconography of the Old Testament episode had to be invented in this period, for lack of precedents. New themes such as the Tree of Jesse
Tree of Jesse
The Tree of Jesse is a depiction in art of the Ancestors of Christ, shown in a tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David; the original use of the family tree as a schematic representation of a genealogy...

 were devised, and representations of God the Father
God the Father
God the Father is a gendered title given to God in many monotheistic religions, particularly patriarchal, Abrahamic ones. In Judaism, God is called Father because he is the creator, life-giver, law-giver, and protector...

 became more acceptable. The vast majority of surviving art is religious. Mosan art
Mosan art
Mosan art is a regional style of art from the valley of the Meuse in present-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Although the term applies to art from this region from all periods, it generally refers to Romanesque art, with Mosan Romanesque architecture, stone carving, metalwork, enamelling...

 was an especially refined regional style, with much superb metalwork surviving, often combined with 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...

, and elements of classicism rare in Romanesque art, as in the Baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège, or the Shrine of the Three Kings at 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...

, one of a number of surviving works by Nicholas of Verdun
Nicholas of Verdun
Nicholas of Verdun was a French artist, one of the most famous goldsmiths and enamellists of the Middle Ages, a major figure in Romanesque art, and the leading figure of Mosan art in his day...

, whose services were sought across north-western Europe. Stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

 became a significant art-form in the period, though little Romanesque glass survives. In illuminated manuscripts the bible became a new focus of intensive decoration, with the psalter
Psalter
A psalter is a volume containing the Book of Psalms, often with other devotional material bound in as well, such as a liturgical calendar and litany of the Saints. Until the later medieval emergence of the book of hours, psalters were the books most widely owned by wealthy lay persons and were...

 also remaining important. The strong emphasis on the suffering of Christ and other sacred figures entered Western art in this period, a feature that strongly distinguishes it from both Byzantine and classical art for the remainder of the Middle Ages and beyond. The Gero Cross of 965-970, at the cusp of Ottonian and Romanesque art, has been called the first work to exhibit this. The end of the Romanesque period saw the start of the greatly increased emphasis on the Virgin Mary in theology, literature and so also art that was to reach its full extent in the Gothic period.

Gothic art



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...

 is a variable term depending on the craft, place and time. The term originated with the Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 which developed in France from about 1137 with the rebuilding of the Abbey Church of St Denis. As with Romanesque architecture, this included sculpture as an integral part of the style, with even larger portals
Portal (architecture)
Portal is a general term describing an opening in the walls of a building, gate or fortification, and especially a grand entrance to an important structure. Doors, metal gates or portcullis in the opening can be used to control entry or exit. The surface surrounding the opening may be made of...

 and other figures on the facade
Facade
A facade or façade is generally one exterior side of a building, usually, but not always, the front. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face"....

s of churches the location of the most important sculpture, until the late period, when large carved altarpiece
Altarpiece
An altarpiece is a picture or relief representing a religious subject and suspended in a frame behind the altar of a church. The altarpiece is often made up of two or more separate panels created using a technique known as panel painting. It is then called a diptych, triptych or polyptych for two,...

s and reredos
Reredos
thumb|300px|right|An altar and reredos from [[St. Josaphat's Roman Catholic Church|St. Josaphat Catholic Church]] in [[Detroit]], [[Michigan]]. This would be called a [[retable]] in many other languages and countries....

, usually in painted and gilded wood, became an important focus in many churches. Gothic painting did not appear until around 1200 (this date has many qualifications), when it diverged from Romanesque style. A Gothic style in sculpture originates in France around 1144 and spread throughout Europe, becoming by the 13th century the international style, replacing Romanesque, though in sculpture and painting the transition was not as sharp as in architecture.

The majority of Romanesque cathedrals and large churches were replaced by Gothic buildings, at least in those places benefiting from the economic growth of the period—Romanesque architecture is now best seen in areas that were subsequently relatively depressed, like many southern regions of France and Italy, or northern Spain. The new architecture allowed for much larger windows, and stained glass of a quality never excelled is perhaps the type of art most associated in the popular mind with the Gothic, although churches with nearly all their original glass, like the Sainte-Chapelle
Sainte-Chapelle
La Sainte-Chapelle is the only surviving building of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris, France. It was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion Relics, including the Crown of Thorns - one of the most important relics in medieval...

 in Paris, are extremely rare anywhere, and unknown in Britain.

Most Gothic wall-paintings have also disappeared; these remained very common, though in parish churches often rather crudely executed. Secular buildings also often had wall-paintings, although royalty preferred the much more expensive tapestries, which were carried along as they travelled between their many palaces and castles, or taken with them on military campaigns—the finest collection of late-medieval textile art comes from the Swiss booty at the Battle of Nancy
Battle of Nancy
The Battle of Nancy was the final and decisive battle of the Burgundian Wars, fought outside the walls of Nancy on 5 January 1477 between Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, and René II, Duke of Lorraine...

, when they defeated and killed Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

, and captured all his baggage train.
As mentioned in the previous section, the Gothic period coincided with a greatly increased emphasis on the Virgin Mary, and it was in this period that the Virgin and Child became such a hallmark of Catholic art. Saints were also portrayed far more often, and many of the range of attributes
Emblem
An emblem is a pictorial image, abstract or representational, that epitomizes a concept — e.g., a moral truth, or an allegory — or that represents a person, such as a king or saint.-Distinction: emblem and symbol:...

 developed to identify them visually for a still largely illiterate public first appeared.

During this period panel painting
Panel painting
A panel painting is a painting made on a flat panel made of wood, either a single piece, or a number of pieces joined together. Until canvas became the more popular support medium in the 16th century, it was the normal form of support for a painting not on a wall or vellum, which was used for...

 for altarpieces, often polyptych
Polyptych
A polyptych generally refers to a painting which is divided into sections, or panels. The terminology that follows is in relevance to the number of panels integrated into a particular piece of work: "diptych" describes a two-part work of art; "triptych" describes a three-part work; "tetraptych"...

es and smaller works became newly important. Previously icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s on panels had been much more common in Byzantine art than in the West, although many now lost panel paintings made in the West are documented from much earlier periods, and initially Western painters on panel were very largely under the sway of Byzantine models, especially in Italy, from where most early Western panel paintings come. The process of establishing a distinct Western style was begun by Cimabue
Cimabue
Cimabue , also known as Bencivieni di Pepo or in modern Italian, Benvenuto di Giuseppe, was an Italian painter and creator of mosaics from Florence....

 and Duccio
Duccio
Duccio di Buoninsegna was one of the most influential Italian artists of his time. Born in Siena, Tuscany, he worked mostly with pigment and egg tempera and like most of his contemporaries painted religious subjects...

, and completed by Giotto, who is traditionally regarded as the starting point for the development of Renaissance painting. Most panel painting remained more conservative than miniature painting however, partly because it was seen by a wide public.
International Gothic
International Gothic
International Gothic is a phase of Gothic art which developed in Burgundy, Bohemia, France and northern Italy in the late 14th century and early 15th century...

 describes courtly Gothic art from about 1360 to 1430, after which Gothic art begins to merge into the Renaissance art that had begun to form itself in Italy during the Trecento
Trecento
The Trecento refers to the 14th century in Italian cultural history.Commonly the Trecento is considered to be the beginning of the Renaissance in art history...

, with a return to classical principles of composition and realism, with the sculptor Nicola Pisano
Nicola Pisano
Nicola Pisano was an Italian sculptor whose work is noted for its classical Roman sculptural style. Pisano is sometimes considered to be the founder of modern sculpture.- Early life :His birth date or origins are uncertain...

 and the painter Giotto as especially formative figures. The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry
The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry or simply the Très Riches Heures is a richly decorated book of hours commissioned by John, Duke of Berry, around 1410...

 is one of the best known works of International Gothic. The transition to the Renaissance occurred at different times in different places - Early Netherlandish painting
Early Netherlandish painting
Early Netherlandish painting refers to the work of artists active in the Low Countries during the 15th- and early 16th-century Northern renaissance, especially in the flourishing Burgundian cities of Bruges and Ghent...

 is poised between the two, as is the Italian painter Pisanello
Pisanello
Pisanello , known professionally as Antonio di Puccio Pisano or Antonio di Puccio da Cereto, also erroneously called Vittore Pisano by Giorgio Vasari, was one of the most distinguished painters of the early Italian Renaissance and Quattrocento...

. Outside Italy Renaissance styles appeared in some works in courts and some wealthy cities while other works, and all work beyond these centres of innovation, continued late Gothic styles for a period of some decades. The Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 often provided an end point for the Gothic tradition in areas that went Protestant, as it was associated with Catholicism.

The invention of a comprehensive mathematically based system of linear perspective is a defining achievement of the early 15th century Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, but Gothic painting had already made great progress in the naturalistic depiction of distance and volume, though it did not usually regard them as essential features of a work if other aims conflicted with them, and late Gothic sculpture was increasingly naturalistic. In the mid-15th century Burgundian miniature (right) the artist seems keen to show his skill at representing buildings and blocks of stone obliquely, and managing scenes at different distances. But his general attempt to reduce the size of more distant elements is unsystematic. Sections of the composition are at a similar scale, with relative distance shown by overlapping, foreshortening, and further objects being higher than nearer ones, though the workmen at left do show finer adjustment of size. But this is abandoned on the right where the most important figure is much larger than the mason.
The end of the period includes new media such as prints
Old master print
An old master print is a work of art produced by a printing process within the Western tradition . A date of about 1830 is usually taken as marking the end of the period whose prints are covered by this term. The main techniques concerned are woodcut, engraving and etching, although there are...

; along with small panel paintings these were frequently used for the emotive andachtsbilder
Andachtsbilder
Andachtsbilder is a German term often used in English in art history for Christian devotional images designed as aids for prayer or contemplation...

 ("devotional images") influenced by new religious trends of the period. These were images of moments detached from the narrative of the Passion of Christ designed for meditation on his sufferings, or those of the Virgin: the Man of Sorrows
Man of Sorrows
Among the passages in the Hebrew Bible that have been identified by Christians as prefigurations of the Messiah, the Man of Sorrows of Isaiah 53 is paramount - the various theological traditions are discussed at that article...

, Pietà
Pietà
The Pietà is a subject in Christian art depicting the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus, most often found in sculpture. As such, it is a particular form of the Lamentation of Christ, a scene from the Passion of Christ found in cycles of the Life of Christ...

, Veil of Veronica
Veil of Veronica
The Veil of Veronica, or Sudarium , often called simply "The Veronica" and known in Italian as the Volto Santo or Holy Face is a Catholic relic, which, according to legend, bears the likeness of the Face of Jesus not made by human hand The Veil of Veronica, or Sudarium (Latin for sweat-cloth),...

 or Arma Christi
Arma Christi
Arma Christi , or the Instruments of the Passion, are the objects associated with Jesus' Passion in Christian symbolism and art....

. The trauma of the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 in the mid-14th century was at least partly responsible for the popularity of themes such as the Dance of Death and Memento mori
Memento mori
Memento mori is a Latin phrase translated as "Remember your mortality", "Remember you must die" or "Remember you will die". It names a genre of artistic work which varies widely, but which all share the same purpose: to remind people of their own mortality...

. In the cheap blockbooks with text (often in the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

) and images cut in a single woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

, works such as that illustrated (left), the Ars Moriendi
Ars moriendi
The Ars moriendi are two related Latin texts dating from about 1415 and 1450 which offer advice on the protocols and procedures of a good death, explaining how to "die well" according to Christian precepts of the late Middle Ages...

(Art of Dying) and typological verse summaries of the bible like the Speculum Humanae Salvationis
Speculum Humanae Salvationis
The Speculum Humanae Salvationis or Mirror of Human Salvation was a bestselling anonymous illustrated work of popular theology in the late Middle Ages, part of the genre of encyclopedic speculum literature, in this case concentrating on the medieval theory of typology, whereby the events of the Old...

(Mirror of Human Salvation) were the most popular.

Renaissance Humanism
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

 and the rise of a wealthy urban middle class, led by merchants, began to transform the old social context of art, with the revival of realistic portraiture and the appearance of printmaking and the self-portrait
Self-portrait
A self-portrait is a representation of an artist, drawn, painted, photographed, or sculpted by the artist. Although self-portraits have been made by artists since the earliest times, it is not until the Early Renaissance in the mid 15th century that artists can be frequently identified depicting...

, together with the decline of forms like stained glass and the illuminated manuscript. Donor portrait
Donor portrait
A donor portrait or votive portrait is a portrait in a larger painting or other work showing the person who commissioned and paid for the image, or a member of his, or her, family...

s, in the Early Medieval period largely the preserve of popes, kings and abbots, now showed businessmen and their families, and churches were becoming crowded with the tomb monuments of the well-off.
The book of hours
Book of Hours
The book of hours was a devotional book popular in the later Middle Ages. It is the most common type of surviving medieval illuminated manuscript. Like every manuscript, each manuscript book of hours is unique in one way or another, but most contain a similar collection of texts, prayers and...

, a type of manuscript normally owned by laymen, or even more often, laywomen, became the type of manuscript most often heavily illustrated from the 14th century onwards, and also by this period, the lead in producing miniatures had passed to lay artists, also very often women. In the most important centres of illumination, Paris and in the 15th century the cities of Flanders
Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, there were large workshops, exporting to other parts of Europe. Other forms of art, such as small ivory reliefs, stained glass, tapestries and Nottingham alabaster
Nottingham Alabaster
Nottingham alabaster is a term used to refer to the English sculpture industry, mostly of relatively small religious carvings, which flourished from the fourteenth century until the early sixteenth century...

s (cheap carved panels for altarpieces) were produced in similar conditions, and artists and craftsmen in cities were usually covered by the guild
Guild
A guild is an association of craftsmen in a particular trade. The earliest types of guild were formed as confraternities of workers. They were organized in a manner something between a trade union, a cartel, and a secret society...

 system—the goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

's guild was typically among the richest in a city, and painters were members of a special Guild of St Luke in many places.

Secular works, often using subjects concerned with courtly love
Courtly love
Courtly love was a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration. Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility. It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife....

 or knightly heroism
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

, were produced as illuminated manuscripts, carved ivory mirror-cases, tapestries and elaborate gold table centrepieces like nefs. It begins to be possible to distinguish much greater numbers of individual artists, some of whom had international reputations. Art collectors begin to appear, of manuscripts among the great nobles, like John, Duke of Berry
John, Duke of Berry
John of Valois or John the Magnificent was Duke of Berry and Auvergne and Count of Poitiers and Montpensier. He was the third son of King John II of France and Bonne of Luxemburg; his brothers were King Charles V of France, Duke Louis I of Anjou and Duke Philip the Bold of Burgundy...

 (1340–1416) and of prints and other works among those with moderate wealth. In the wealthier areas tiny cheap religious woodcut
Woodcut
Woodcut—occasionally known as xylography—is a relief printing artistic technique in printmaking in which an image is carved into the surface of a block of wood, with the printing parts remaining level with the surface while the non-printing parts are removed, typically with gouges...

s brought art in an approximation of the latest style even into the homes of peasants by the late 15th century.

Virgin Mary

Subsequent reputation


Medieval art had little sense of its own art history, and this disinterest was continued in later periods. The Renaissance generally dismissed it as a "barbarous" product of the "Dark Ages", and the term "Gothic" was invented as a deliberately pejorative one, first used by the painter Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

 in a letter of 1519 to characterise all that had come between the demise of Classical art and its supposed 'rebirth' in the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. The term was subsequently adopted and popularised in the mid 16th century by the Florentine artist and historian, Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

, who used it to denigrate northern European architecture generally. Illuminated manuscripts continued to be collected by antiquarian
Antiquarian
An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient objects of art or science, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts...

s, or sit unregarded in monastic or royal libraries, but paintings were mostly of interest if they had historical associations with royalty or others. The long period of mistreatment of the Westminster Retable
Westminster Retable
The Westminster Retable, the oldest known panel painting altarpiece in England, is estimated to have been painted in the 1270s in the circle of Plantagenet court painters, for Westminster Abbey, very probably for the high altar. It is thought to have been donated by Henry III of England as part of...

 by Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 is an example; until the 19th century it was only regarded as a useful piece of timber. But their large portrait of Richard II of England
Richard II of England
Richard II was King of England, a member of the House of Plantagenet and the last of its main-line kings. He ruled from 1377 until he was deposed in 1399. Richard was a son of Edward, the Black Prince, and was born during the reign of his grandfather, Edward III...

 was well looked after, like another portrait of Richard, the Wilton Diptych (illustrated above). As in the Middle Ages themselves, other objects have often survived mainly because they were considered to be relic
Relic
In religion, a relic is a part of the body of a saint or a venerated person, or else another type of ancient religious object, carefully preserved for purposes of veneration or as a tangible memorial...

s.

There was no equivalent for pictorial art of the "Gothic survival" found in architecture, once the style had finally died off in Germany, England and Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, and the Gothic Revival long focused on Gothic Architecture
Gothic architecture
Gothic architecture is a style of architecture that flourished during the high and late medieval period. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture....

 rather than art. The understanding of the succession of styles was still very weak, as suggested by the title of Thomas Rickman
Thomas Rickman
Thomas Rickman , was an English architect who was a major figure in the Gothic Revival.He was born at Maidenhead, Berkshire, into a large Quaker family, and avoided the medical career envisaged for him by his father, a grocer and druggist; he went into business for himself and married his first...

's pioneering book on English architecture: An Attempt to discriminate the Styles of English Architecture from the Conquest to the Reformation (1817). This began to change with a vengeance by the mid-19th century, as appreciation of medieval sculpture and its painting, known as Italian or Flemish "Primitives", became fashionable under the influence of writers including John Ruskin
John Ruskin
John Ruskin was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. He wrote on subjects ranging from geology to architecture, myth to ornithology, literature to education, and botany to political...

, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was a French architect and theorist, famous for his interpretive "restorations" of medieval buildings. Born in Paris, he was a major Gothic Revival architect.-Early years:...

, and Pugin, as well as the romantic medievalism
Medievalism
Medievalism is the system of belief and practice characteristic of the Middle Ages, or devotion to elements of that period, which has been expressed in areas such as architecture, literature, music, art, philosophy, scholarship, and various vehicles of popular culture.Since the 18th century, a...

 of literary works like Sir Walter Scott
Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

's Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe is a historical fiction novel by Sir Walter Scott in 1819, and set in 12th-century England. Ivanhoe is sometimes credited for increasing interest in Romanticism and Medievalism; John Henry Newman claimed Scott "had first turned men's minds in the direction of the middle ages," while...

(1819) and Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

's The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is a novel by Victor Hugo published in 1831. The French title refers to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, on which the story is centered.-Background:...

(1831). Early collectors of the "Primitives", then still relatively cheap, included Prince Albert
Prince Albert
Prince Albert was the husband and consort of Queen Victoria.Prince Albert may also refer to:-Royalty:*Prince Albert Edward or Edward VII of the United Kingdom , son of Albert and Victoria...

.
Among artists the German Nazarene movement
Nazarene movement
The name Nazarene was adopted by a group of early 19th century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art...

 from 1809 and English Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti...

 from 1848 both rejected the values of at least the later Renaissance, but in practice, and despite sometimes depicting medieval scenes, their work draws its influences mostly from the Early Renaissance rather than the Gothic or earlier periods - the early graphic work of John Millais being something of an exception. William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

, also a discriminating collector of medieval art, absorbed medieval style more thoroughly into his work, as did William Burges
William Burges (architect)
William Burges was an English architect and designer. Amongst the greatest of the Victorian art-architects, Burges sought in his work an escape from 19th century industrialisation and a return to the values, architectural and social, of an imagined mediaeval England...

.

By the later 19th century many book-illustrators and producers of decorative art of various kinds had learned to use medieval styles successfully from the new museums like the Victoria & Albert Museum set up for this purpose. At the same time the new academic field of art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

, dominated by Germany and France, concentrated heavily on medieval art and was soon very productive in cataloguing and dating the surviving works, and analysing the development of medieval styles and iconography; though the Late Antique and pre-Carolingian period remained a less explored "no-man's land" until the 20th century.
Franz Theodor Kugler was the first to name and describe Carolingian art in 1837; like many art historians of the period he sought to find and promote the national spirit of his own nation in art history, a search begun by Johann Gottfried Herder
Johann Gottfried Herder
Johann Gottfried von Herder was a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic. He is associated with the periods of Enlightenment, Sturm und Drang, and Weimar Classicism.-Biography:...

 in the 18th century. Kugler's pupil, the great Swiss art historian Jacob Burckhardt
Jacob Burckhardt
Carl Jacob Christoph Burckhardt was a historian of art and culture, and an influential figure in the historiography of each field. He is known as one of the major progenitors of cultural history, albeit in a form very different from how cultural history is conceived and studied in academia today...

, though he could not be called a specialist in medieval art, was an important figure in developing the understanding of it. Medieval art was now heavily collected, both by museums and private collectors like George Salting
George Salting
George Salting was an Australian-born British art collector of pictures and many other categories of art, whose works were left to the National Gallery, London, Victoria & Albert Museum and British Museum.-Early life:...

, the Rothschild family
Rothschild family
The Rothschild family , known as The House of Rothschild, or more simply as the Rothschilds, is a Jewish-German family that established European banking and finance houses starting in the late 18th century...

 and John Pierpoint Morgan.

After the decline of the Gothic Revival, and the Celtic Revival
Celtic Revival
Celtic Revival covers a variety of movements and trends, mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, which drew on the traditions of Celtic literature and Celtic art, or in fact more often what art historians call Insular art...

 use of Insular styles, the anti-realist and expressive elements of medieval art have still proved an inspiration for many modern artists.

German-speaking art historians continued to dominate medieval art history, despite figures like Émile Mâle
Émile Mâle
Émile Mâle was a French art historian, one of the first to study medieval, mostly sacral French art and the influence of eastern European iconography thereon. He was a member of the Académie Française, and a director of the Académie de France à Rome....

 (1862–1954) and Henri Focillon
Henri Focillon
Henri Focillon was a French art historian.Director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. Professor of Art History at the University of Lyon, at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, at the Sorbonne, at the Collège de France and then in the United States, where he went into exile and taught at Yale...

 (1881–1943), until the Nazi period, when a large number of important figures emigrated, mostly to Britain or America, where the academic study of art history was still developing. These included the elderly Adolph Goldschmidt
Adolph Goldschmidt
Adolph Goldschmidt was a Jewish German art historian.He was born in Hamburg.After a short business career he devoted himself to the study of the history of art at the universities of Jena, Kiel, and Leipzig...

 and younger figures including Nikolaus Pevsner
Nikolaus Pevsner
Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner, CBE, FBA was a German-born British scholar of history of art and, especially, of history of architecture...

, Ernst Kitzinger
Ernst Kitzinger
Ernst Kitzinger was a German-American historian of late antique, early medieval, and Byzantine art.-Biography:...

, Erwin Panofsky
Erwin Panofsky
Erwin Panofsky was a German art historian, whose academic career was pursued mostly in the U.S. after the rise of the Nazi regime. Panofsky's work remains highly influential in the modern academic study of iconography...

, Kurt Weitzmann
Kurt Weitzmann
Kurt Weitzmann was born in Klein Almerode Germany on May 7, 1904 and died in Princeton, New Jersey on June 7, 1993. He was a highly influential art historian who studied Byzantine and medieval art. He attended the universities of Münster, Würzburg and Vienna before moving to Princeton in 1935, due...

, Richard Krautheimer
Richard Krautheimer
Richard Krautheimer was a 20th century art historian, architectural historian, Baroque scholar, and Byzantinist....

 and many others. Meyer Schapiro
Meyer Schapiro
Meyer Schapiro was a Lithuanian-born American art historian known for forging new art historical methodologies that incorporated an interdisciplinary approach to the study of works of art...

 had immigrated as a child in 1907.

See also


  • List of illuminated manuscripts
  • European art history
  • Medieval literature
    Medieval literature
    Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe and beyond during the Middle Ages . The literature of this time was composed of religious writings as well as secular works...

  • Medieval music
    Medieval music
    Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

  • Paleography
  • Medieval theatre
    Medieval theatre
    Medieval theatre refers to the theatre of Europe between the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. and the beginning of the Renaissance in approximately the 15th century A.D...

  • History of painting
    History of painting
    The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted tradition from Antiquity. Across cultures, and spanning continents and millennia, the history of painting is an ongoing river of...

  • Western painting
    Western painting
    The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.Developments...