On the State of Medieval Art History
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On the State of Medieval Art HistoryAuthor(s): Herbert L. KesslerSource: The Art Bulletin, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 166-187Published by: College Art AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3051115 .Accessed: 29/08/2013 09:37
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On the State of Medieval Art History
Herbert L. Kessler
Ever since Renaissance humanists conceived the Middle Ages as a foil for their own accomplishments, "medieval art" has been understood not so much as a result of co- herent artistic developments as the product of external his- torical processes. To be sure, scholars have discerned short chains of linked morphological transformations, usually in connection with efforts to reinstate classical conventions. But they have been unable to chart the kind of logical succession of artistic responses that give apparent consis- tency to ancient Greek sculpture or Renaissance painting - that is, a consistency largely independent of extra-ar- tistic events. The seemingly erratic stylistic shifts and the coexistence at any moment of the Middle Ages of radically opposed forms have always prompted searches for expla- nations in such historical events and social conditions as Constantine's conversion, the "barbarian" invasions, changes in devotional practices, or the growth of urban economies.' For this reason, historians of medieval art have long divided their allegiance between art history and me- dieval studies. Indeed, much recent work owes its vigor to new developments in anthropology, historiography, cod- icology, and literary criticism.2
Receptivity to work in cognate disciplines has allowed a break from the Italian model of art history, which from the start was antipathetic to the Middle Ages. It has also lib- erated the study of medieval art from admiring but equally unhistorical Romantic interpretations. In the best recent work, the commitment is to supplant inherited preconcep- tions with interpretations grounded in the Middle Ages.3 But this commitment entails a struggle. Medieval docu- ments are notoriously unself-conscious about the history of art; one finds in them no media aetas and no notion of a
distinctive artistic tradition. Scholars have succeeded in embedding medieval art in unique and complex cultural contexts only by assiduously mining the few surviving ek- phrases, theological debates, technical manuals, typika, and inventories, and, more important, by analyzing the sur- viving monuments with a real conviction about the im- portance of visual culture during the period. Success has come at the price of an increasing alienation within the parent discipline,4 running up professional as well as in- tellectual costs. The less medieval art resembles the para- digmatic traditions, the more isolated it becomes. To the extent that this status report has an ambition, therefore, it is to outline for the nonspecialist some of the major issues of medieval art currently being investigated and, in so doing, to crack open a door in the massive wall of recent scholarship.5
Periodization The profound indebtedness of the Renaissance to the
Middle Ages notwithstanding, the essential claim is certain: beginning in the late thirteenth century, a succession of Tus- can painters and sculptors fundamentally transformed in- herited artistic traditions by reinstating classical theory and forms.6 The question is: how far should this claim, which was so brilliantly promoted by Tuscan writers, be ex- tended?7 In the Christian East, for example, art remained emphatically traditional into the eighteenth century and be- yond, despite the influence of Renaissance imports and the Turkish conquest of Constantinople (1453).8 Indeed, as an instrument of ethnic cohesiveness, art became assertively conservative during the turcocratia.9 Fifteenth- and some sixteenth-century art produced in regions north of the
1 The process began with the sharp stylistic contrasts apparent in the Arch of Constantine and Vasari's account of them. For an attempt to discover the shape of early medieval art within the seeming chaos, while not dis- counting the pressures of general history, see E. Kitzinger, Byzantine Art in the Making, Cambridge, MA, 1977. 2 The influence of B. Stock, The Implications of Literacy, Princeton, 1983, is a dramatic example of the art historian's productive reaction to work in other disciplines. 3 On the complex correlation between advances in the appreciation of medieval art and contemporary developments, see M. Caviness, "Erwei- terung des 'Kunst'-Begriffs. Die Rezeption mittelalterlicher Werke im Kon- text nachimpressionistischer Str6mungen," Osterreichische Zeitschrift fiir Kunst und Denkmalpflege, XL, 1986, 204-15. 4 This is an old story; see the account of Adolph Goldschmidt's early years in Berlin in K. Weitzmann, Adolph Goldschmidt und die Berliner Kunst- geschichte, Berlin, 1985.
s This report focuses on work published during the past ten years, though it also dips into that of the preceding decade. It does not cover the history of medieval architecture. References are exemplary rather than compre-
hensive and, for reasons of space, refer only to original publications, not to reprints or translations. 6 H. Belting, "Introduzione" in La civilta' Bizantina dal XII al XV secolo, Rome, 1982, 279-355. 7 On the tyrannical hold of the Italian model on art history, see S. Alpers, The Art of Describing. Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century, Chicago, 1983. 8 M. Chatzidakis, "Recherches sur le peintre Theophane le Cr6tois," Dum- barton Oaks Papers, xxmii-xxiv, 1969-70, 309-52; Stift Herzogenburg, Kunst der Ostkirche, exh. cat., Vienna, 1977; and British Library, The Christian Orient, exh. cat., London, 1978. 9 J. Seguy, "Images et 'religion populaire,'" Archives des sciences sociales des religions, XLIv, 1977, 25-43. As a result, later views on Byzantine art must be read with the same caution used in applying Renaissance histories to Western medieval art; see C. Mango, "Lo stile cosiddetto 'Monastico della pittura bizantina," Habitat-Strutture-Territorio (Atti del Terzo Con- vegno Internazionale di Studio sulla Civilta Rupestre Medioevale nel Mez- zogiorno d'Italia, 1975), Galatina, 1978, 45-62.
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ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 167
Alps - though often labeled "Northern Renaissance" - is generally understood as a medieval phenomenon, albeit a final phase;10 few scholars would treat the alabaster carving of sixteenth-century England as a Renaissance manifesta- tion. Moreover, certain "old-fashioned" crafts persisted everywhere, uninfluenced by the new pretensions. Vene- tian mosaicists continued to use medieval techniques as late as the time of Giovanni Bellini;"1 makers of stained glass employed venerable methods into the sixteenth century (even after the style of their images had succumbed to Re- naissance types);12 and as late as the mid-fifteenth century, modelbook formulae were still replicated in Florentine manuscripts.13 More important, art continued to occupy much the same place in spiritual practice that it had in pre- vious centuries. At least until the Protestant Reformation, art served to make Christian doctrine clear to the faithful, and memorable as well, by engaging the "spiritual" sense of sight.14 Thus, long after Renaissance art had been established in Tuscany as a dominant style, medieval art flourished in interesting, if largely neglected, manifestations.
What of the beginnings of medieval art? Renaissance commentators concurred that the origins were to be sought in the systematic destruction of antique traditions, though even they disagreed somewhat about the underlying cause. For Ghiberti, Constantine's conversion in 312 started the "decline." For Vasari (writing during the Counter-Refor- mation) a dying empire, not Christian hostility, brought about the change. As the history of Roman art has acquired a shape during the course of this century, early medieval art has emerged as a fully integral aspect of late imperial
developments, now treated as a separate period variously dubbed "Late Antique," "Early Christian," and "Early Me- dieval."'5 It is seen as a subspecies within the heterogeneous artistic culture of Rome, which had already employed, alongside a classical mode, unnatural scale and proportion of figures, hieratic spatial relationships, and abstraction to express the timelessness and absolute authority of its po- litical structure. Even iconography - once taken as a dis- tinguishing sign - is no longer regarded as differentiating and alien. Subject matter, too, has been set in a framework of pagan imagery that had already become largely neutral in content.16 So has the very structure of medieval pro- grammatic decoration.17 And since the unearthing in 1932 of the synagogue at Dura Europos, which is widely ac- cepted as a bridge between Roman and medieval art, Jewish art is now seen more as a parallel manifestation within the intricate configuration than as a formative precursor. Drawn from the same pictorial repertoire, Jewish art seems to have stimulated the expansion of Christian imagery as an aspect of rivalry between Judaism and Christianity; in turn, it may have been influenced by Christian art.18 Craft traditions, moreover, fostered centuries-long continuities19 in certain classes of objects. On silver vessels depicting mythological themes, for instance, classical forms persisted as late as the seventh and possibly even into the eleventh century.20 In fact, the classical style was deployed for sym- bolic or rhetorical purposes within Christian images, pro- viding a distinct mode of expression.21
The origins of medieval art are found, then, not in an assault on pagan traditions, but in the broad acceptance and adaptation of the functional and formal diversity of
10 Herbst des Mittelalters, exh. cat., Cologne, 1970, and J. Plummer, The Last Flowering. French Painting in Manuscripts 1420-1530, Oxford and New York, 1982. 11 0. Demus, The Mosaics of San Marco in Venice, Chicago, 1984. 12 M. Caviness, Stained Glass Before 1540: An Annotated Bibliography, Boston, 1983. 13 F. Ames-Lewis, "Modelbook Drawings and the Florentine Quattrocento Artist," Art History, x, 1987, 1-11. 14 M. Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy, Ox- ford, 1972; idem, The Limewood Sculptors of Renaissance Germany, New Haven and London, 1980; and J. Marrow, Passion Iconography in North- ern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, Kor- trijk, 1979. 15 Kitzinger (as in n. 1); B. Brenk, et al., Spiitantike und friihes Chris- tentum, Berlin, 1977; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Age of Spirituality, exh. cat., New York, 1979; and Liebieghaus Museum alter Plastik, Spiat- antike und friihes Christentum, exh. cat., Frankfurt-am-Main, 1983. 16 P. Brown, "Art and Society in Late Antiquity," Age of Spirituality. A Symposium, ed. K. Weitzmann, New York, 1980, 17-27; E. Kitzinger, "Christian Imagery: Growth and Impact," ibid., 141-63; C. Murray, Re- birth and Afterlife. A Study of the Transmutation of Some Pagan Imagery in Early Christian Funerary Art (BAR International Series, c), Oxford, 1981; H. Kaiser-Minn, Die Erschaffung des Menschen auf den spiitantiken Monumenten des 3. und 4. Jahrhunderts (Jahrbuch fiir antike und Chris- tentum. Ergiinzungsband, vi), Miinster, 1981; and H. Brandenburg, "Die Darstellungen maritimen Lebens," in Spaitantike und friihes Christentum (as in n. 15), 249-56. 17 J. Deckers, "Die Wandmalerei im Kaiserkultraum von Luxor," Jahrbuch
der Deutschen Instituts, xciv, 1979, 600-52, and idem, "Constantin und Christus," Spidtantike und friihes Christentum (as in n. 15), 267-83. 18 B. Narkiss, "The Jewish Realm," in Age of Spirituality (as in n. 15), 365-94; H. Brandenburg, "Oberlegungen zum Ursprung der friihchrist- lichen Bildkunst," Atti del IX Congresso Internazionale di Archeologia Cristiana (1975), Vatican, 1978, 1, 331-60; and J. Gutmann, "Early Syn- agogue and Jewish Catacomb Art and Its Relation to Christian Art," Auf- stieg und Niedergang der R6mischen Welt, ed. H. Temporini and W. Haase, xxI, Pt. 2, Berlin, 1984, 1313-42. On later implications of Jewish art, see R. Stichel, "Ausserkanonische Elemente in byzantinischen Illustrationen des Alten Testaments," R6mische Quartalschrift, LXIX, 1974, 159-81; idem, "Die Einheit von Judentum, Christentum und Islam in den Vorstellungen von der Geburt des messianischen Kindes," Oecumenica, Iv, 1986, 27-48; and G. Sed-Rajna, La Bible Hebrai'que, Fribourg, 1987. 19 For individual media, see Brenk, et al. (as in n. 15); J. Ward Perkins, "The Role of the Craftsmanship in the Formation of Early Christian Art," Atti del IX Congresso (as in n. 18), I, 637-52; and J. Trilling, The Roman Heritage: Textiles from Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean 300 to 600 AD (Textile Museum Journal, xxI), Washington, DC, 1982. 20 I. Kalavrezou-Maxeiner, "The Cup of San Marco and the 'Classical' in Byzantium," Studien zur mittelalterlichen Kunst 800-1250. Festschrift fiir Florentine Miitherich zum 70. Geburtstag, Munich, 1985, 167-74, and J.M.C. Toynbee and K.S. Painter, "Silver Picture Plates of Late Antiquity: A.D. 300 to 700," Archaeologia, cvIIl, 1986, 15-65. 21 Kitzinger (as in n. 1) and K. Weitzmann, "The Classical Mode in the Period of the Macedonian Emperors: Continuity or Revival?," Byzantina kai Metabyzantina I. The "Past" in Medieval and Modern Greek Culture, ed. S. Vryonis, Jr., Malibu, CA, 1978, 71-85.
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168 THE ART BULLETIN JUNE 1988 VOLUME LXX NUMBER 2
Roman art. Christians actually strengthened classicism during the fourth and fifth centuries (Fig. 1),22 both as a normal aspect of their new, aristocratic stature and as part of the concerted attempt to lay claim to the Roman heri- tage. The transfixing icon of Christ on Mt. Sinai,23 recently added to the canon of medieval works, and the silver plates from Cyprus24 are among the many works that attest to the endurance of ancient forms well into the sixth and seventh centuries. Christian art fashioned in the best Roman tech- niques according to classical conventions provided a rich legacy for the later Middle Ages - one of far greater con- sequence than pagan art.25
With the acceptance of late antiquity as a discrete period in the history of art, medieval beginnings must be sought well after the conversion of Rome to Christianity; but whereas "barbarian" invasions, Byzantine Iconoclasm (726- 843), and Islamic conquests suggest A.D. 700 as a conve- nient dividing line, history offers no clear break. The "bar- barians," for instance, are no longer viewed entirely as out- siders; for centuries, they had operated within Roman society as well as outside.26 Secular art was sustained during Iconoclasm, and Christian production may not have been completely disrupted.27 Indeed, Islam actually sheltered Christian art - even from Christian iconoclasts - while adapting for Islamic use some of its remarkable tech- niques.28 Moreover, the late seventh and eighth centuries are emerging in the latest scholarship as a time of icono- graphic innovation and as a period when the central func- tion of art in Christianity was in fact being enhanced.29 What is so appealing about the current periodization is its congruity with the medieval view of a general persistence of Roman culture, marked only by local disruptions and restorations.
Scholars continue to debate whether the classical char- acter of such Carolingian and Macedonian "renaissance" works as the Vienna Coronation Gospels and the Castel- seprio frescoes30 is the result of revival or a manifestation of a "living" tradition. Classicism was by the ninth century only one of several modes available to artists, a style rich in connotations but one not well suited to certain important
1 Three Maries at the Tomb and Ascension ivory. Munich, Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (photo: Museum)
expressive purposes. As presented in the ninth- and tenth- century revivals,31 the achievement of first-millennium art is seen as twofold. First, it is a concerted demonstration of
22 Kitzinger (as in n. 1). For a reconsideration of the political motivations behind the classical revival, see K. Shelton, The Esquiline Treasure, Lon- don, 1981, and for Constantine's role in the progressive occurrence, see E. Simon, Die konstantinischen Deckengemilde in Trier, Mainz, 1986. 23 K. Weitzmann, The Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. The Icons, i, Princeton, 1976. 24 British Museum, Wealth of the Roman World, A.D. 300-700, exh. cat., London, 1977. 25 P. Speck, "Versuch einer Charakterisierung der sogenannten Make- donischen Renaissance," Les pays du nord et Byzance (Scandinavie et Byz- ance). Actes du colloque nordique et international de byzantinologie, Uppsala, 1981, 237-42. 26 R6misch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Gallien in der Spfitantike, exh. cat., Mainz-am-Rhein, 1980; G. Cavallo, "Libri e continuita della cultura antica in eta barbarica," in Magistra barbaritas, Milan, 1984, 603-62; and A. Romanini, "II concetto di classico e l'alto medioevo," ibid., 665-78. 27 R. Cormack, "The Arts During the Age of Iconoclasm," in Iconoclasm,
ed. A. Bryer and J. Herrin, Birmingham, 1977, 35-44, and D. Wright, "Byzantine Art and Literature Around the Year 800. Report on the Dum- barton Oaks Symposium of 1984," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, XL, 1986, 183-85. 28 See K. Weitzmann, "The Ivories of the So-Called Grado Chair," Dum- barton Oaks Papers, xxvi, 1972, 45-91; idem (as in nn. 21 and 23); 0. Grabar, The Formation of Islamic Art, New Haven and London, 1973. 29 P. Speck, "Ikonoklasmus und die Anfange der Makedonischen Renais- sance," Poikila Byzantina, iv, 1984, 177-210; R. Cormack, Writing in Gold, New York, 1985; and A. Kartsonis, Anastasis, Princeton, 1986. 30 Most recently, see P. Leveto-Jabr, "Carbon-14 Dating of Wood from the East Apse of Santa Maria at Castel Seprio," Gesta, xxvi, 1987, 17-18. 31 The significant continuity between the art of late antiquity and that of the "revival" periods surfaces in discussions of dating and sources; see H. Belting and G. Cavallo, Die Bibel des Niketas, Wiesbaden, 1979, and A. Cutler, "'Roma' and 'Constantinopolis' in Vienna," Byzanz und der Wes- ten, ed. I. Hutter, Vienna, 1984, 43-64.
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 169
Christian claims to the Roman imperial heritage and triumph over its pagan errors, an interpretatio Christiana of the ancient traditions.32 Second, within a bewildering variety, the achievement reveals a general sorting out, a depreciation of mundane naturalism and an emphasis on abstract means for conveying the relationship between mi- crocosm and macrocosm, including a strengthening of hier- archical structures and the significant integration of words, symbols, and geometrical schemata into figural represen- tations.33 The devices for picturing transcendental truths were perpetuated and elaborated in later medieval art; in- deed, an intricate, sometimes opaque form of visual exe- gesis - barely attached to Roman formulations - became the dominant mode of artistic expression in the Latin West during the High Middle Ages.34 Byzantium was largely un- affected by truly abstract trends, but there, too, the anti- quarian classicism of the "Macedonian Renaissance"35 was superseded by a humbler style - characterized by linear detailing, absence of spatial settings, and hieratic compo- sition.36 At the same time, Byzantine art became increas- ingly receptive to foreign influence, particularly to elabo- rate Islamic ornament that displaced antiquity as a sign of luxury and power.
Beginning around the middle of the twelfth century, By- zantine art once again developed an affective narrative style dependent on movement and a sense of pathos.37 Reflecting
a renewed feeling for sentiment and psychology, the more dramatic imagery was generated, in part, by an efflores- cence of rhetorical learning in the Church schools of Con- stantinople.38 Evolving at a time of important contacts with Latin Europe - in Sicily, for instance, and Venice39 - the new, resilient humanistic mode had an immediate effect in the West. Already at the end of the eleventh century, cer- tain patrons, intent on reintroducing Early Christian tra- ditions as an aspect of Church reform, had tapped Byzan- tium for workers skilled at complicated craft techniques no longer practiced in the West - mosaic laying and bronze casting, for instance.40 Byzantium appeared to them to have preserved the traditions of effigy and narrative associated with late antiquity and could, therefore, serve as midwife in the rebirth of a lost past.41 Western Christianity was itself reconsidering the meaning of the material world and had begun to replace an intellectual vision with a historical one. The growing interest in the personal experience of sacred history regulated the admittance of Byzantine art and en- couraged the elaboration of human elements that could stimulate empathy.42
The Crusades fueled the rapprochement between Eastern and Western art. They brought artists and patrons into contact with a range of art, both old and contemporary, forcing them to discriminate in new ways.43 Working in ateliers established in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and
32 L. Seidel, Songs of Glory, Chicago, 1981; H. Belting, "Problemi vecchi e nuovi sull'arte della cosiddetta 'Rinascenza Macedone' a Bisanzio," XXIX corso di cultura sull'arte Ravennate e Bizantina, Ravenna, 1982, 31-57; and R. Cormack, "Patronage and New Programs of Byzantine Iconog- raphy," The Seventeenth International Byzantine Congress. Major Papers, New Rochelle, NY, 1986, 609-38.
33 H. Kessler, The Illustrated Bibles from Tours, Princeton, 1977; M. Ev- ans, "The Geometry of the Mind," Architectural Association Quarterly, xII, 1980, 32-55; P. Dutton and E. Jeauneau, "The Verses of the 'Codex Aureus' of Saint-Emmeram," Studi medievali, xxiv, 1983, 75-120; M. Cav- iness, "Images of Divine Order and the Third Mode of Seeing," Gesta, xxii, 1983, 99-120; and V. Elbern, "Bildstruktur-Sinnzeichen-Bildaussage. Zusammenfassende Studie zur unfigiirliche Ikonographie im friihen Mit- telalter," Arte medievale, I, 1983, 17-37. 34 P. Klein, "Les Apocalypses Romanes et la tradition exegetique," Les cahiers de Saint-Michel de Cuxa, xII, 1981, 123-40; Bayerische Staatsbi- bliothek, Das Evangeliar Heinrichs des Ldwen und das mittelalterliche Herrscherbild, exh. cat., Munich, 1986; R. Deshman, "The Imagery of the Living Ecclesia and the English Monastic Reform," in Sources of An- glo-Saxon Culture, ed. P. Szarmach, Kalamazoo, MI, 1986, 261-82; and E. Sears, The Ages of Man. Medieval Interpretations of the Life Cycle, Princeton, 1986.
35 H. Belting, "Kunst oder Objekt-Stil? Fragen zur Funktion der 'Kunst' in der 'Makedonischen Renaissance,"' in Byzanz und der Westen (as in n. 31), 65-83; and A. Wharton, Tokalh Kilise, Washington, DC, 1986. 36 Because most of the Constantinopolitan monuments have been de- stroyed, Middle Byzantine art is known largely through its "provincial" realizations. The extent to which these reflect the capital and how much they incorporate indigenous features are constant issues of discussion; see N. Thierry, "L'art monumental byzantin en Asie Mineure du XIe siecle au XIVe," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, xxix, 1975, 73-111; Mango (as in n. 9); and H. Buchthal, "Studies in Byzantine Illumination of the Thirteenth
Century," Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen, xxv, 1985, 27-102.
37 T. Velmans, La peinture murale byzantine 't la fin du Moyen-Age, Paris, 1977; D. Mouriki, "Stylistic Trends in Monumental Painting of Greece During the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, xxxiv-xxxv, 1980-81, 77-124; idem, The Mosaics of Nea Moni on Chios, Athens, 1985; and L. Hadermann-Misguich, "La peinture monumentale du XIIe siecle ' Chypre," XXXII corso di cultura sull'arte ravennate e bi- zantina, Ravenna, 1985, 233-58. 38 H. Maguire, Art and Eloquence in Byzantium, Princeton, 1981, and idem, "The Self-Conscious Angel: Character Study in Byzantine Paintings of the Annunciation," Okeanos, vii, 1983 (Essays Presented to Ihor Sev- cenko on His Sixtieth Birthday), 377-92. 39 V. Pace, "Pittura bizantina nell'Italia meridionale (secoli XI-XIV)," in I Bizantini in Italia, Milan, 1982, 427-94; E. Kitzinger, "Two Mosaic Ate- liers in Palermo in the 1140s," in Artistes, artisans et production artistique au Moyen-Age, ed. X. Barral i Altet, Paris, 1986, I, 277-94; and Demus (as in n. 11). 40 E. Kitzinger, "The First Mosaic Decoration of Salerno Cathedral," Jahr- buch der 6sterreichischen Byzantinistik, xxi, 1972, 149-62, and H. Belting, "Byzantine Art Among the Greeks and Latins in Southern Italy," Dum- barton Oaks Papers, xxviii, 1974, 1-29. 41 E. Kitzinger, "The Arts as Aspects of a Renaissance: Rome and Italy," Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century, ed. R. Benson and G. Constable, Cambridge, MA, 1982, 637-70. 42 H. Belting, Das Bild und sein Publikum im Mittelalter, Berlin, 1981. 43 H. Fillitz, "Nicolaus von Verdun," in Wilrttenbergisches Landesmu- seum, Die Zeit der Staufer, exh. cat., Stuttgart, 1977, v, 279-90, and X. Muratova, "Western Chronicles of the First Crusade as Sources for the History of Art in the Holy Land," Crusader Art in the Twelfth Century (BAR International Series, cLII), Oxford, 1982, 47-69.
170 THE ART BULLETIN JUNE 1988 VOLUME LXX NUMBER 2
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other Eastern colonies (Fig. 2), Western painters absorbed Islamic and Armenian traditions as well as the evolving Byzantine forms. By the end of the twelfth century, a truly international style based on the Byzantine idiom had de- veloped and had spread across Europe.45 In this context, the effect on art of the diversion of the Fourth Crusade and Latin conquest of Constantinople in 1204 was both less dra- matic and more consequential than has previously been supposed. Byzantine production - long since established in centers outside the capital - continued in provincial outposts, and from there it exerted influence. Western art, already assimilated to Byzantine forms, continued to evolve. Formerly comprehended as separable currents, "Gothic" and "maniera Greca," the reassertion of human- istic features is now seen as a pan-European phenomenon,46 involving function as well as style.47
The return of Byzantine rulers to the imperial palace in 1261 marked the beginning of a renewal of Constantino- politan art that sought to revalorize orthodox traditions, including antiquity, following the Empire's humiliation and desecration.48 The pious sentimentality detectable in twelfth-century painting intensified; nurtured in Serbia and Bulgaria, it had matured by the beginning of the fourteenth century when frescoes were painted in the Kariye Djami in Constantinople.49 The prestige of the Byzantine capital was never restored, however; and as threats to Constantinople's security increased, so did the impoverishment of its art. Safeguarding the Byzantine artistic tradition became the responsibility of rising Slavic and Balkan states even before the city's fall; in the post-Byzantine world, Constantinople was replaced as the center of east European art by Mt. Athos.
In Western Europe, "Gothic" painting adhered closely to Byzantine trends, though the routes of influence often de- toured in unexpected ways.50 The fact that artists com- monly worked in more than one technique helped to extend
44 For a summary of earlier work, see J. Folda, "Painting and Sculpture in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem 1099-1291," in A History of the Cru- sades, ed. H. Hazard, Madison, WI, 1977, Iv, 251-81. Also see Crusader Art in the Twelfth Century (as in n. 43). Sculpture, an art form promoted more in the West than the East, followed its own pattern; see H. Busch- hausen, Die siiditalienische Bauplastik im Kanigreich Jerusalem vom Kdnig Wilhelm II bis Kaiser Friedrich II, Vienna, 1978, and Z. Jacoby, "The Composition of the Nazareth Workshop and the Recruitment of Sculptors for the Holy Land in the Twelfth Century," The Meeting of Two Worlds, Kalamazoo, MI, 1986, 145-59. 45 Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Year 1200, exh. cat., 2 vols., New York, 1970. 46 H. Belting, "Introduction," in Il medio oriente e l'occidente nell'arte del XIII secolo (Atti del XXIV Congresso. Comite Internationale d'Histoire de I'Art), Bologna, 1979, II, 1-10; K. Weitzmann, "Crusader Icons and Maniera Greca," in Byzanz und der Westen (as in n. 31), 143-70; V. Pace, "Presenze e influenze Cipriote nella pittura duecentesca italiana," XXXII corso (as in n. 37), 259-98; idem, "Italy and the Holy Land: Import-Export, 1. The Case of Venice," in The Meeting of Two Worlds (as in n. 44), 331-
45; idem, "Italy and the Holy Land: Import-Export, 2. The Case of Apulia," Crusader Art in the Twelfth Century (as in n. 43), 245-69; and idem, "La Bibbia 'bizantina' di San Daniele di Friuli: Le certezze di un enigma," Min- iatura in Friuli Crocevia di Civilth, Pordenone, 1987, 71-81. 47 Belting (as in n. 42) and Weitzmann (as in n. 46). 48 Art et societe a Byzance sous les Paleologues (Actes du colloque or- ganish par lAssociation Internationale des Etudes Byzantines a Venise en Septembre 1968), Venice, 1971; Velmans (as in n. 37); and Belting (as in n. 6). 49 Studies in the Art of the Kariye Djami and Its Intellectual Background (The Kariye Djami, Iv), ed. P. Underwood, Princeton, 1975; Maguire, Art and Eloquence (as in n. 38); and Belting (as in n. 6). 50 W. Oakeshott, Sigena. Romanesque Paintings in Spain and the Win- chester Bible Artists, London, 1972; L. Ayres, "The Work of the Morgan Master at Winchester and English Painting of the Early Gothic Period," Art Bulletin, LVl, 1974, 201-23; P. Feist, "Die Bedeutung der byzantischen Kunst fiir die deutsche Kunst des hohen Mittelalters," Byzantinischer Kunstexport, ed. H. Nickel, Halle-Wittenberg, 1978, 11-23.
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 171
the new style,51 but, in general, the different media followed distinct courses. Sculpture, for instance, was affected by Byzantine forms mediated through metalwork,52 but it also derived its naturalistic animation from the study of antique models.53
Whereas recent scholarship sustains the idea of a thir- teenth-century rejuvenation of art engendered by contacts with Byzantium, it describes a phenomenon quite different from the one Vasari promoted.54 Byzantine art is seen not as a monolith. It is now understood as a complex and fluid idiom responsive to internal religious and political shifts and to the tastes of patrons. Technically refined and of- fering a humanized, narrative style, Byzantine art had at- tracted Westerners since the twelfth century. In some in- stances, Byzantine sources were mined because they recalled the late antique traditions being reinstated as part of a gen- eral reform. In other cases, Byzantine cultural achieve- ments were emulated because of competition with the great power they symbolized. A changing Latin Christianity found in Byzantine icons the artistic vehicle for a new in- terest in personal faith. And the Byzantine "lingua franca" used at the height of the Crusades by artists of various nationalities provided a syncretic style evocative of a uni- fied Christianity.55
By the second half of the thirteenth century, particular currents were separating from the dynamic flow. In Paris, miniaturists, responding to expanding market demands, exploited a range of formulae taken from the earlier ex- periments.56 In Rome, Early Christian monuments, some of which were restored by leading artists of the time, exerted a powerful influence.57 In the meantime in Tuscany, which was relatively unencumbered by tradition, artists refor- mulated Gothic naturalism under humanist pressures.58 Naturalism continued to develop during the fourteenth cen- tury, reattached to the Plinian tradition and responsive to the new empiricism. But it was only one of several im- pulses. Distinct "national" traditions were evolving; and
after mid-century, a reactionary spirituality reasserted it- self.59 Increasingly, however, the Tuscan achievements came to dominate, not only in Italy but also in France, Bohemia, and England.60
Together with the new view of late antiquity, the recently developed picture of the twelfth- and thirteenth-century ar- tistic environment completely changes the image of me- dieval art as a continuous series of classical revivals and renascences, always frustrated but steadily building to the Italian Renaissance. Now a triumphant Christianity is seen not to have destroyed ancient art, but to have captured it like so much booty, smelting it to make its own cultural arsenal. Never entirely depleted in Byzantium, the tradi- tions inherited from late antiquity remained available throughout the Middle Ages, evoking in their reconcilia- tion of Christian and classical values the golden age of Christian antiquity.61 In its various permutations - Justin- ianic, Heraclian, Carolingian, and Macedonian - Early Christian art held special fascination during the Crusader period when the apostolic era was a living model. And it receded only when Christian Rome lost its originary stature - when the Renaissance began to trace its roots to classical antiquity, putting an end to the Middle Ages.
The Medieval Art Object Works of medieval art, for all their dependence on an-
tique styles and techniques, enjoyed a distinct status de- termined by the circumstances of medieval life and Chris- tian metaphysics. Whereas certain modes continued almost uninterrupted throughout the entire period - scientific il- lustration,62 for instance - significant shifts took place in the hierarchy of media and focus of art as Christianity emerged as the dominant cultural force. Christians placed a special value on lustrous substances and on materials re- sistant to physical decay: gold, ivory, precious stones, and glass. Quite early, they rejected three-dimensional sculp- ture as troublingly laden with idolatrous connotations. And
51 H. Buchthal, The "Musterbuch" of Wolfenbiattel and Its Position in the Art of the Thirteenth Century, Vienna, 1979, and G. Zarnecki, "General Introduction," in Hayward Gallery, English Romanesque Art 1066-1200, exh. cat., London, 1984, 15-26. 52 W. Sauerliinder, "Sculpture on Early Gothic Churches: The State of Research and Open Questions," Gesta, ix, 1970, 42-45, and idem, "Ar- chitecture and the Figurative Arts: The North," in Renaissance and Re- newal (as in n. 41), 671-710; and Fillitz (as in n. 43). 3 G. Gnudi, "Considerazioni sul gotico francese, l'arte imperiale e la for-
mazione di Nicola Pisano," Federico II e l'arte del duecento italiano (Atti della III Settimana di Studi di Storia dell'Arte Medievale dell'Universitah di Roma. 1978), Galatina, 1980, I, 1-17; P. Claussen, "Antike und gotische Skulptur in Frankreich um 1200," Wallraf-Richartz Jahrbuch, xxxv, 1973, 83-108. 54 J. Gardner, "Pope Nicholas IV and the Decoration of Santa Maria Maggiore," Zeitschrift fiir Kunstgeschichte, xxxvi, 1973, 1-50; and H. Belting, "The 'Byzantine' Madonnas: New Facts About Their Italian Or- igin and Some Observations on Duccio," Studies in the History of Art, 12 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC), 1982, 7-21. ss H. Belting, "Zwischen Gotik und Byzanz," Zeitschrift fur Kunst- geschichte, XLI, 1978, 217-57. 56 R. Branner, Manuscript Painting in Paris During the Reign of Saint Louis, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1977.
57 P. Hetherington, Pietro Cavallini, London, 1979, and J. Wollesen, "Die Fresken in Sancta Sanctorum," Rdmisches Jahrbuch ffir Kunstgeschichte, xix, 1981, 37-83. 58 M. Baxandall, Giotto and the Orators, Oxford, 1971, and G. Previtali, "La periodizzazione della storia dell'arte italiana," in Storia dell'arte ita- liana, Turin, 1979, I, 5-95. 59 P. Dieckhoff, "Antiqui-moderni. Zeitbewustein und Naturerfahrung im 14. Jahrhundert," in Schnuitgen Museum, Die Parler und der Sch6ne Stil 1350-1400, exh. cat., Cologne, 1978, III, 67-123, and M. Warnke, Hof- kiinstler. Zur Vorgeschichte des modernen Kiinstlers, Cologne, 1985. 60 F. Avril, "Un cas d'influence italienne dans l'enluminure du Nord de la France au quatorzieme siecle," Studies in Late Medieval and Renaissance Painting in Honor of Millard Meiss, ed. I. Lavin and J. Plummer, New York, 1977, 32-42; J. Krasa, Die Handschriften K6nig Wenzels IV, Prague, 1971; and L. Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts, Oxford, 1984. 61 H. Bloch, "The New Fascination with Ancient Rome," in Renaissance and Renewal (as in n. 41), 615-36, and I. Herklotz, "Sepulcra" e "mon- umenta" del medioevo, Rome, 1985. 62 K. Weitzmann, "Science and Poetry," in Age of Spirituality (as in n. 15), 199-204; H. Grape-Albers, Spaitantike Bilder aus der Welt de Arztes, Wiesbaden, 1977; and Z. Kdadr, Survivals of Greek Zoological Illumi- nations in Byzantine Manuscripts, Budapest, 1978.
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in response to the importance of Scripture for their faith, they made the illuminated book central, transforming it completely. Most important, they reconsidered the nature of the art object itself - its context, its function, and its audience.
Because the physical world was understood as an ema- nation of the supernatural, materials played a significant role in medieval cosmology and, hence, in art production.63 Spirituality resided in material things: the sacraments, rel- ics, and art. Each medium had its distinctive technical as- pect and symbolic reference, and its own poetics as well. Iconological elements in themselves, materials were used for expressive purposes in various combinations and within the set structures of discrete objects and whole buildings. Precious substances conveyed power and thus were used to impress Christian worshippers.64 They could lift the faithful imaginatively out of the terrestrial prison. Gem- encrusted gold objects, stained glass, and carved crystal owed their positions in the hierarchy of medieval art to more than intrinsic value. Their luminosity served Chris- tian metaphysics of light.65 Other substances, too, took on meaning. In Byzantium, steatite served special uses because of its unblemished appearance and resistance to fire;66 and the purple opacity of porphyry and the tactile near-white- ness of rare ivory acquired specific connotations.67
One consequence of the attribution of symbolic qualities to materials was the impulse to enhance rather than deny surfaces, substances, and textures.68 This, in turn, led to an acceptance of the architectonic structure of the artifact as a primary organizing principle.69 Medieval documents re- cord an appreciation not only of the cost of materials, but also of the effects that derived from the working of surfaces and the visible effects of light on them. Workmanship also added value and attested to the artisan's dedicated labor. Most important, raw matter, through artistic working, be- came a vehicle of religious ambition. Through the impo- sition of form, matter acquired the rational dignity it needed to become sacred art.70 Byzantine iconoclasts, for instance, focused attention on color, claiming that images made of
pigments (which are little more than base matter) lacked glory; but the defenders of images countered with the claim that substances are fundamentally altered through artistic action.71 Medieval works are often intricately ornamented with a virtuosity that seems totally to subdue the material, and they are always uniformly finished.72 Ornament also introduced apotropaic qualities, through the "taming" of evil forces or the incorporation of beneficial signs.73
The notion that the church and its appointments are re- flections of the Heavenly Church is fundamental to an un- derstanding of medieval art. During the Middle Ages, art served principally to create and articulate church spaces, the consecrated environment where earth intersected Heaven. The visual form of this environment was consid- ered an essential aspect of its ontology.74 In the terrestrial church, the faithful witnessed a reflection of the celestial Church, not only through the sacraments and liturgy, but also through crafted materials and artistic effects: shim- mering mosaics, stained glass, utensils of silver and ivory, cloths embroidered with precious metal threads.75 Indeed, one of the most dramatic transformations of the ancient heritage during the Middle Ages was the widespread es- tablishment of otherworldly interiors as stages for com- munion with the divine.
The altar, of course, was a special focus (Fig. 3). Dec- orated with a cross, it represented Christ in the midst of his congregation, binding Heaven and earth together with his body and blood.76 Many of the works taken to be "me- dieval art" were in fact created as altar utensils or as devices for enhancing the awesomeness of the altar area - objects such as icons, most ivories, luxurious manuscripts with jeweled covers, crosses and candlesticks, gold and silver reliquaries, and elaborately woven and embroidered textiles.
As the altar was venerated, so was any art on or near it.77 Accordingly, Christians had to abandon the cult statue and, with it, three-dimensional imagery, not only because of the vestigial association with paganism, but also because the statue's presence in the sacralized space would violate
63 G. Bandmann, "Bemerkungen zu einer Ikonologie des Materials," Stii- del Jahrbuch, II, 1969, 75-100, and C. Meier, "Edelsteinallegorese," in Die Parler (as in n. 59), III, 185-88. 64 M. Budny, "The Anglo-Saxon Embroideries at Maaseik: Their Histor- ical and Art-Historical Context," Mededelingen van de Koninklijke Aca- demie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van Belgie, XLV, 1984, 57-133. 65 B. Brenk, "Les premieres mosaiques dories de l'art chretien," Palette, xxxvIII, 1971, 16-25. 66 I. Kalavrezou-Maxeiner, Byzantine Icons in Steatite, Vienna, 1985. 67 A. Cutler, The Craft of Ivory, Washington, DC, 1985. 68 C.R. Dodwell, Anglo-Saxon Art, Ithaca, NY, 1982. 69 Caviness (as in n. 33). 70 R.W. Hanning, "Ut enim faber . . . sic creator": Divine Creation as Context for Human Creativity in the Twelfth Century," Word, Picture, and Spectacle, ed. C. Davidson, Kalamazoo, MI, 1984, 95-149. 71 F de' Maffei, Icona, pittore e arte al Concilio Niceno II, Rome, 1974. 72 E.H. Gombrich, The Sense of Order, Ithaca, NY, 1979. Ovid's dictum "opus superabat materiam" struck many medieval commentators on art
(see P. Claussen, "Goldschmiede des Mittelalters," Zeitschrift fiir Kunst- wissenschaft, xxxII, 1978, 46-86). 73 Caviness (as in n. 33); Elbern (as in n. 33); J. Guilmain, "The Com- position of the First Cross Page of the Lindisfarne Gospels: 'Square Sche- matism' and the Hiberno-Saxon Aesthetic," Art Bulletin, LXVII, 1985, 535- 47; and H. Roth, Kunst und Handwerk im friihen Mittelalter, Stuttgart, 1986; but also see C. Gilbert, "A Statement of the Aesthetic Attitude Around 1230," Hebrew University Studies in Literature and the Arts, xiii, 1985, 125-52. Pagan ornament may also have had magical connotations; see Gombrich (as in n. 72). 74 Universita Cattolica del S. Cuore, La Gerusalemme celeste, exh. cat., Milan, 1983; Cormack (as in n. 29); and R. and L. Kriss-Rettenbeck, "Re- liquie und ornamenta ecclesiae im Symbol-kosmos der Kirche," Orna- menta Ecclesiae, exh. cat., Cologne, 1985, III, 19-24. 75 Heaven, in turn, was imagined as a glorious church; Dodwell (as in n. 68), for instance, notes a gold embroidery described in Heaven. 76 P. Springer, Kreuzfiisse, Berlin, 1981, and A. von Euw, "Liturgische Handschriften, Gewinder und Gerite," in Ornamenta Ecclesiae (as in n. 74), I, 385-414. 77 Herklotz (as in n. 61).
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 173
Christian beliefs about the relationship between terrestrial and heavenly realms. Accepted as being more purely spir- itual, painted images replaced statues;78 but Iconoclastic ar- guments against religious art still focused on veneration and on the unique importance of the sacraments and the Cross.79 Only when three-dimensional sculpture was inte- grated into an established cult of relics was it accepted as an important art form, and then only in the Latin West.
Because it recorded God's word, the book was elevated in Christianity to the position once occupied by the cult statue. Embellished, it was to have the visual effect befitting its spiritual content. Books took on distinctive features: the codex form itself, elaborate covers, nomina sacra and dec- orated initials, rubrication, and pictorial additions; all were determined by the special place of Scripture in Christian- ity.80 Service books - sacramentaries, Gospels, epistolar- ies, Psalters, and so forth - fitted out with ornamented covers picturing Christ's death and triumph, became cer- emonial objects for display on the altar. Like the liturgy they served, such books were doors to the words of God.81 Written in gold, silver, or even lapis lazuli (sometimes on porphyry-colored vellum) and intricately ornamented, lux- ury editions actually became precious objects, sacred ves- sels.82 In the late and post-Byzantine periods, the Sticher- arion was used alongside the icon and illuminations were increasingly assimilated to icon traditions.83 In both East and West, priests paraded books to the altar in rituals that paralleled the procession of relics; and legends developed to assert the magical powers of decorated codices.84
Art was applied to books - as to the church building itself - to authorize and shape them. Portraits of the in- spired writers, for instance, certified the divine status of the texts and "kinetic" initials inspirited the words. Em- bellished canon tables and harmony pages asserted the pri- mary unity of the contents,8m and other features structured access to the texts: frontispieces and headpieces, orna- mented initials, narratives and marginal miniatures, and sometimes an integrated mise-en-page.86
As most medieval art served the sacred liturgy, its history is largely the history of the response of artists to changing liturgical conditions. So, as the specific history of liturgy becomes better known, the course of medieval art is better understood.87 In Byzantium, the icon was itself an indis-
3 Roger van der Weyden, Seven Sacraments Altarpiece, central panel. Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten (photo: ACL, Brussels)
pensable part of the liturgy, making real the presence and participation of the figure represented on it and, through consecration, acquiring a sacramental aspect. Icons were venerated and censed, and prayers and confessions were said before them. Depicting the message of the liturgy, the icon offered the worshipper a contact with the world of grace.88 Icons were mounted on a screen (the iconostasis) that separated the sanctuary from the nave. Like the liturgy itself, the iconostasis was a gateway between this world and the other, and the arrangement of icons on it plotted
78 Belting (as in n. 6). 79 Speck (as in n. 29). 80 C. Roberts and T.C. Skeat, The Birth of the Codex, London, 1983, and O. Picht, Buchmalerei des Mittelalters. Eine Einfiihrung, Munich, 1984. 81 E. Kitzinger, "A Pair of Silver Book Covers in the Sion Treasure," in Gatherings in Honor of Dorothy E. Miner, ed. U. McCracken et al., Bal- timore, 1974, 3-17. 82 Belting (as in n. 35). 83 H. Belting, Das illuminierte Buch in der spiitbyzantinischen Gesell- schaft, Heidelberg, 1970. 84 L. Nees, "A Fifth-Century Book Cover and the Origin of the Four Evan- gelist Symbols Page in the Book of Durrow," Gesta, xvii, 1978, 1-8, and J. Backhouse, The Lindisfarne Gospels, Oxford, 1981.
85 R. Nelson, The Iconography of Preface and Miniature in the Byzantine Gospel Book, New York, 1980, and L. Eleen, The Illustration of the Pau- line Epistles in French and English Bibles of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, Oxford, 1982. 86 C. Nordenfalk, Die spiitantiken Zierbuchstaben, Stockholm, 1970; J.J.G. Alexander, The Decorated Letter, New York, 1978; Evans (as in n. 33); M. Camille, "Seeing and Reading: Some Visual Implications of Medieval Literacy and Illiteracy," Art History, viii, 1985, 26-49; and M. Gibson, "Who Designed the Eadwine Psalter?" in Art and Patronage in the English Romanesque, ed. S. Macready and F.H. Thompson, London, 1986, 71- 76. 87 For the impact of liturgical changes on images of the Anastasis, see Kartsonis (as in n. 29). 88 G. Galavaris, The Icon in the Life of the Church, Leiden, 1981, and H. Torp, "Larte e l'artista delle icone," Arte medievale, ii, 1985, 9-22.
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humanity's path to God. In this, it was like the fresco and mosaic decorations of the church as a whole.89 Comprising diverse materials and forms and composed of seemingly incongruous parts - flat and curved, written and pictured, old and new, real and fictive - the ornamented church itself formed a great, composite icon. Wall paintings, win- dows, panels, utensils, books, vestments, and all the other diverse ornaments were joined to one another by liturgical ritual and songs, which they reflected and supported.90 Li- turgical art shared with the liturgy a suspension of time and space that enabled contact with those in a higher realm.
The different liturgy in the West was hardly less influ- ential on art. It served to integrate diverse features of church decoration into a unified composition, affecting both large and small details of imagery. Art, in turn, provided a ca- talyst within the liturgical environment by helping join the fixed physical circumstance to the world beyond.91 Pri- marily near the apse but also on lateral walls, facades, and even floors, it served the liturgy by announcing the mystery awaiting fulfillment in the sacraments and by marking the stages of preparation.92 Liturgical practice also determined the reception of Byzantine forms in the West during the Crusader period, most notably the adaptation of icon pan- els as altarpieces or devotional images.93 And internal changes in ceremony fostered the invention of new art forms. Thus, following 1215, painted panels replaced stat- ues atop altars to provide a backdrop for the new visual presentation of the Eucharistic Host by a priest standing with his back to the congregation.94 Liturgical function often determined the "aesthetic" properties of medieval objects; Romanesque statues of the Virgin and Child, for instance, were made of wood so they could be carried, were three- dimensional so that they could be seen from all sides, and were sheathed in precious materials for anagogical effect.95
Hidden away most of the time, many art objects were brought into view only on set occasions and then only by oersons in authority. In this respect, too, they shared in the
mystery of the sacraments. On saints' days in the East, ap- propriate icons introduced the honored figure into the church, and priests stressed the notion that the saint was present through the depiction. Certain two-sided and three- dimensional works were carried in processions; some served active functions in rituals. Though the question of the pre- cise impact of liturgical drama on art is still debated, the fact that pictures and church theater occupied much the same place in medieval religious life and shared many sources is now well established.96
Particular liturgies also had concrete influence on indi- vidual works: the liturgy of Assumption Day in a church dedicated to the Virgin, for instance,97 or the reading of the life of Saint Francis at Assisi.98 Dedication ceremonies also resonated in church art, as has recently been shown for Sta. Prassede and Hagia Sophia; art perpetuated the consecra- tion for everyone who subsequently entered the church.99 In liturgical books, the effect of individual liturgical rites was strong and direct, shaping the imagery and pictorial argumentation.100 The semi-private ceremonies in monas- teries engendered artistic forms of their own, which were often distinctly more personal.101 Finally, the appropriation of art for the special activities of mendicant orders con- centrated on forms useful for preaching and individual devotion.102
Having already occupied an important place in ancient imperial and civic ceremonies, art continued to serve in secular rituals during the Middle Ages.103 A basic continuity of imperial rites seems to account for the perpetuation in Ravenna and Constantinople of certain art forms generally abandoned elsewhere: carved tomb monuments, for in- stance, and equestrian statues.04 During the twelfth cen- tury, imperial art, together with such rituals as the Laudes, was adopted by an ascendent Papacy. The purpose was to lay claim to imperial stature.105 Sacred art, in turn, pene- trated the quasi-religious world of kingship; portraits of rulers offered evidence of the intimate relationship between
89 R. Hamann-MacLean, Grundlegung zu einer Geschichte der mittelal- terlichen Monumentalmalerei in Serbien und Makedonien, Giessen, 1976. 90 C. Walter, Art and Ritual of the Byzantine Church, London, 1982. 91 H. van Os, Sienese Altarpieces 1215-1460, Groningen, 1984, and M. Kupfer, "Spiritual Passage and Pictorial Strategy in the Romanesque Fres- coes at Vicq," Art Bulletin, LXVIII, 1986, 35-53. 92 Seidel (as in n. 32); Kupfer (as in n. 91); and P. Claussen, Magistri Doctissimi Romani, Stuttgart, 1987. 93 Belting (as in n. 42), and Weitzmann (as in n. 46). 94 Van Os (as in n. 91). 95 I. Forsyth, The Throne of Wisdom, Princeton, 1972. 96 H. van Os, "The Madonna and the Mystery Play," Simiolus, v, 1971, 5-19; R. Woolf, The English Mystery Plays, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1972; and U. Nilgen, review of the Arts Council "English Romanesque Art" exhibition in Kunstchronik, xxxvii, 1984, 202-15. 97 E. Kitzinger, "A Virgin's Face: Antiquarianism in Twelfth-Century Art," Art Bulletin, LXII, 1980, 6-19. 98 D. Blume, Wandmalerei als Ordenspropaganda, Worms, 1983.
99 Cormack (as in n. 29), and M. Mauck, "The Mosaic of the Triumphal Arch of S. Prassede: A Liturgical Interpretation," Speculum, LXII, 1987, 813-28. 100 G. Galavaris, The Illustrations of the Prefaces in Byzantine Gospels, Vienna, 1979, and R. Reynolds, "A Visual Epitome of the Eucharistic Ordo from the Era of Charles the Bald: The Ivory Mass Cover of the Drogo Sacramentary," in Charles the Bald: Court and Kingdom (BAR International Series, ci), Oxford, 1981, 265-89. 101 Belting (as in n. 42) and J. Weitzmann-Fiedler, Romanische gravierte Bronzeschalen, Berlin, 1981. 102 Belting (ibid.), Van Os (as in n. 91), and Marrow (as in n. 14). 103 Brown (as in n. 16); S. MacCormack, Art and Ceremony in Late An- tiquity, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1981; and M. McCormick, Eternal Vic- tory, Cambridge, 1986. 104 Herklotz (as in n. 61). 105 I. Herklotz, "Der Campus Lateranensis im Mittelalter," Ramisches Jahrbuch ffir Kunstgeschichte, xxII, 1985, 3-43.
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 175
Christ and the earthly sovereigns emphasized in coronation ordines. 106
As vehicles of mediation between the terrestrial and heavenly worlds, works of art acquired the properties of relics, although they were even superior to relics in their ability to communicate.107 Many works of art were in fact regarded as relics, either because of their divine origin - the acheiropoieta - or because of their association with saints.108 Others were containers for relics. Relics had to be displayed and touched, but also protected.109 Art works - not only actual reliquaries (Fig. 4), but also bookbindings, crosses, and sculptures - served the dual purpose.110 Es- pecially in the East, icons achieved the status of relics through replication and consecration by holy men; unlike relics, they could be fabricated and made readily accessible. Works of art were also like relics in their capacity to work miracles and to heal; indeed, their powers account for the enormous attraction they held for pilgrims. Pilgrimage, in turn, generated its own art: memoriae, containers for rel- ics, and souvenirs."' The "throne of St. Peter" in the Vat- ican is a good example of art's status in medieval times (Fig. 5). A ninth-century ivory-clad chair brought to Rome for the coronation of the Carolingian emperor Charles the Bald, it was adopted for papal ceremonies in the eleventh cen- tury. Then, during the course of the twelfth century, it was promoted as an apostolic "relic" - the cattedra Petri - and was used as a weapon in the battle for superiority (and pilgrims) between the Vatican canons and the Lateran.112
By extension of their relic-like capacities, works of art were continuously reused and reframed in a process of re- validation and further elevation."13 When churches were re-
stored or rebuilt, for instance, venerable pieces of their ear- lier decoration were preserved and incorporated. New works were legitimate only when they were integrated har- moniously with the old.114 Miscellaneous pieces of antique sculpture were assembled in elaborate piecemeal programs to glorify emperors and popes: at Aachen, for instance, and in front of the Lateran.115 Often a particular significance motivated the choice of works that were recycled; Pope Anastasius IV selected the sarcophagus of Saint Helena for his own burial because of its association with an empress saint.116 In other cases, only a more general interpretatio Christiana was intended, as when an intaglio portrait of Titus' daughter Julia was mounted atop the Escrain de Charlemagne to proclaim the victory of Roman Christi- anity.117 A lapis lazuli portrait of Livia was introduced as Christ's face on the Herimann Cross of 1056 for much the same reason.118 In the twelfth-century Stavelot Triptych, Mosan enamels were joined to ancient gems and Byzantine enamels to form a complex new program. And following the conquest of Constantinople, the refashioning, display, and replication of captured Byzantine treasure further el- evated art relics.119
In a related process of reaffirmation, works of art were constantly being enhanced with additions. Embellishments of the statue of Saint Foy at Conques attest to the esteem held for the image over centuries.120 Already in the ninth century, the throne of Charles the Bald (cattedra Petri) was refitted with a series of inlaid ivories that enriched it phys- ically and reinforced its basic program.121 Most churches betray a continuous process through which new additions were assimilated into fresh harmonies. Even tools - model
106 R. Deshman, "Christus Rex et Magi Reges; Kingship and Christology in Ottonian and Anglo-Saxon Art," Friihmittelalterliche Studien, x, 1976, 367-405, and F. Miitherich, "Das Evangeliar Heinrichs des L6wen und die Tradition des mittelalterlichen Herrscherbildes," in Das Evangeliar (as in n. 34), 25-34. 107 P. Brown, "A Dark-Age Crisis: Aspects of the Iconoclastic Controversy," English Historical Review, LXXXVIII, 1973, 1-34, and Belting (as in n. 42). Iconoclasts attacked both art and the cult of relics; see J. Phillips, The Reformation of Images: Destruction of Art in England 1535-1660, Berke- ley and Los Angeles, 1973, and Kartsonis (as in n. 29). 108 Cormack (as in n. 27). 109 R. Kroos, "Vom Umgang mit Reliquien," Ornamenta Ecclesiae (as in n. 74), I11, 25-49. 110 K. Hauck, "Versuch einer Gesamtdeutung des Einhard-Kreuzes," in Das Einhardkreuz, ed. K. Hauck, G6ttingen, 1974, 143-205, and "Sacrae Reliquiae," in Ornamenta Ecclesiae (as in n. 74), III, 25-183. 111 K. Weitzmann, "Loca Sancta and the Representational Arts of Pa- lestine," Dumbarton Oak Papers, xxviii, 1974, 33-55; Palazzo Venezia, Roma 1300-1875. L'arte degli anni santi, exh. cat., Rome, 1984; and F. Niehoff, "Umbilicus Mundi - Der Nabel der Welt," in Ornamenta Ec- clesiae (as in n. 74), III, 53-72. 112 M. Maccarrone, "La storia della cattedra," Atti della Pontificia Ac- cademia Romana di Archeologia (Memorie, x), La cattedra lignea di S. Pietro in Vaticano, Vatican, 1971, 3-70. Another case is the mosaic icon of Sta. Croce in Gerusalemme; see Belting (as in n. 42). 113 A. Esch, "Spolien. Zur Wiederverwendung antiker Baustiicke und Skulpturen im mittelalterlichen Italien," Archiv fiir Kulturgeschichte, LI, 1969, 1-64, and M. Perry, "St. Mark's Trophies: Legend, Superstition, and
Archaeology in Renaissance Venice," Journal of the Warburg and Cour- tauld Institutes, XL, 1977, 27-49. 114 H. Belting, Die Oberkirche von San Francesco in Assisi, Berlin, 1977; M. Andaloro, "La decorazione pittorica medioevale di Grottaferrata e il suo perduto contesto," in Roma Anno 1300, ed. A. Romanini, Rome, 1983, 253-87; B. Brenk, "Sugers Spolien," Arte medievale, i, 1983, 101- 07; and J. van der Meulen and J. Hohmeyer, Chartres. Biographie der Kathedrale, Cologne, 1984. 115 M. d'Onofrio, Roma e Aquisgrana, Rome, 1983, and Herklotz (as in n. 105). 116 Herklotz (as in n. 61). 117 Seidel (as in n. 32). 118 R. Wesenberg,"Das Herimannkreuz," in Kunsthalle, Cologne, and Mu- sies Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels, Rhein und Maas, exh. cat., 1973, II, 167-76. In a somewhat different process, pagan mother goddesses may have been taken by believers as images of the Virgin Mary; see Forsyth (as in n. 95). 119 H. Belting, "Die Reaktion der Kunst des 13. Jahrhunderts auf den Im- port von Reliquien und Ikonen," in Medio oriente e loccidente (as in n. 46), 35-53. 120 E. Dahl, "Heavenly Images. The Statue of St. Foy of Conques and the Signification of the Medieval 'Cult-Image' in the West," Acta ad Archaeo- logiam et Artium Historiam Pertinentia, viii, 1978, 175-91. 121 K. Weitzmann, "The Heracles Plaques of St. Peter's Cathedra," Art Bulletin, LV, 1973, 5-35, and "An Addendum," Art Bulletin, LVI, 1974, 248-52; and C. Frugoni, "Uideologia del potere imperiale nella 'Cattedra di S. Pietro,"' Bullettino dell'Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo e Archivio Muratoriano, LXXXVI, 1976-77, 67-181.
176 THE ART BULLETIN JUNE 1988 VOLUME LXX NUMBER 2
4 Leon, S. Isidoro, reliquary (photo: Hirmer)
5 Vatican, Cattedra Petri (photo: K. Weitzmann)
books and artistic manuals - were augmented and reor- ganized over time.122
In almost all cases, the recycled works remained visually distinct within their new settings. Indeed, to call to the viewer's mind the claim of triumph and revalidation, their essential strangeness had to remain visible, even conspic- uous. The fragments, however, were frequently integrated iconographically, embedded in a context that established a new status. Thus, reused pieces of classical or Islamic art not only signaled general Christian triumph,12 but also conveyed a specific and appropriate message. The beautiful fourth-century serpentine disk inlaid with gold fish, trans- formed into a paten during the Merovingian period, is an example,124 and so are the capitals purloined in the twelfth century from the Baths of Caracalla and still atop the col- umns in the church of Sta. Maria in Trastevere. There, in fact, male and female couples function as counterparts to the apse mosaic, which features Christ and Mary.125 On the Stavelot Triptych, Byzantine enamel triptychs containing a fragment of the "True Cross" and an image of the Cru- cifiction are framed by Mosan medallions tracing the Con- stantinian legend of the finding of the Cross.126
An earlier work of art that was not actually recycled was sometimes quoted for comparable purposes.127 The copying of details from the fifth-century Vatican Vergil codex for a ninth-century illustration of the Conversion of Paul,128 for instance, asserts a fundamental continuity linking Chris- tianity to pagan Rome that is implicit both in the legend of Paul and in medieval interpretations of the Aeneid. The references to ancient triumphal arches on ninth-century li- turgical objects convey the idea of Christian victory as em- phatically as does the incorporation of actual spolia; and allusion to these vessels on Romanesque church facades es- tablishes in turn a firm, if intricate, spiritual and political genealogy.129 By citing an object, artists could secure a re- lationship to the tradition that created the prototype and at the same time, by altering its content, could stake out their own unique place.130
The processes of recycling and citing objects depended for their effectiveness on the general practice of medieval iconography, which tied subject matter directly to func- tion. Thus, the Communion of the Apostles, with its Eu- charistic reference, was often chosen for patens and apses.'3' An enlarged Crucifixion interrupts the narrative frescoes in St. Peter's directly above the altar of Simon and Jude because the altar was a stop in the procession on the Feast
122 C. Barnes, Villard de Honnecourt. The Artist and His Drawings, Bos- ton, 1982. 123 D. Ebitz, "Secular to Sacred: The Transformation of an Oliphant in the Mus&e de Cluny," Gesta, xxv, 1986, 31-38. 124 E. Bielefeld, "Eine Patene aus dem franz6sischen Kr6nungschatz," Gymnasium, LXXIX, 1972, 395-445. 125 D. Kinney, "Spolia from the Baths of Caracalla in Sta. Maria in Tras- tevere," Art Bulletin, LXVIII, 1986, 379-97. 126 Also see the complex case of the altar of King Andrew III of Hungary,
in P. Huber, Bild und Botschaft, Zurich, 1973. 127 Kitzinger (as in n. 97). 128 D. Wright, "When the Vatican Vergil was in Tours," Festschrift fiir Florentine Miitherich (as in n. 20), 53-66. 129 Seidel (as in n. 32). 130 M. Baker, "Medieval Illustrations of Bede's Life of St. Cuthbert," Jour- nal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XLI, 1978, 16-49. 131 W. Loerke, "The Monumental Miniature," in The Place of Book Il- lumination in Byzantine Art, Princeton, 1975, 61-97.
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 177
of the True Cross.132 And themes contrasting Virtue and Vice decorate the so-called "Hansa bowls" used by nuns in a cleansing ritual before Confession.133 Sometimes, though, the connections were anything but obvious: on the bronze doors at Hildesheim, for example, Genesis narratives were opposed to New Testament scenes to illustrate the idea that "The door of Paradise, closed by the first Eve, has now been opened to all by the holy Virgin."134 This practice of selecting appropriate subjects reinforced the functional purpose of medieval art by rooting the diachronic rituals the objects served in a continuous, validating, and sacred history. Perhaps the most apt and important instance of this process is the decoration of the whole church, which in both East and West (though in different ways) amplified the relationship of past events to the cyclic rituals of the liturgy.
Like relics, art had an entirely temporal effect that was particularly beneficial for pilgrimages: it attracted people - hence money - to places it sanctified by its presence.135 The "power" of art, attested to in medieval texts, has been studied only in a few instances, of which the best known is the statue of Saint Foy at Conques.136 While praying be- fore a work of art helped to secure salvation, the com- missioning of art assured eternal protection of body and soul. Transmuting the heathen practice of interring objects with the dead for use in the afterlife, Christian art served as collateral in transactions for redemption. Given to a church or monastery, it was exchanged for the assured pro- tection of the body and for perpetual prayers of interces- sion for the soul.137
The work of medieval art was more agent than object. It did not so much attract the beholder's eye to itself as mediate vision toward something beyond; and its spiritual significance derived from the complex context for which it was made. Thus, it served as but part of a whole: an apse mosaic needed the altar beneath it for completion, candle- sticks required a cross between them to convey their sym- bolic message, and all were furnishings dependent on the church structure to articulate their place and hence hier- archical position. In turn, art also communicated higher impulses to the faithful by visually fixing the spoken and performed liturgy or preached message, by stimulating re-
ligious emotions, and sometimes by speaking or acting. Medieval work follows ad hoc rather than universal rules
of composition, the effect deriving not from an "organic unity""138 but from the incorporation of all anomalies and intrusions. Objects were often the product of an accretive process, compiled rather than fashioned. And they relied for their effect on both the fascination of spectaclel39 and the work of decipherment (Fig. 6).140 Indeed, the reciprocal play of overall effect and specific details was one of the many oppositions that provided an inner logic governing the reading of most works, a syntax structured through dualistic sets, both formal and iconographic. Among other of these sets were the contrast of classical and abstract styles, of various colors, of text and image, and of such subject oppositions as death and transfiguration, Old Tes- tament/New Testament, past and future, history and etern- ity, and sin and redemption.141 These reflect the funda- mental medieval cosmology according to which the world is divided into good and evil and will be perfectly unified only at the end of time.142 It is understandable, therefore, that when, toward the end of the Middle Ages, natural- istically rendered historical narrative was introduced, a fundamental adjustment was required in the way images were perceived.'43
All of this raises important questions about the concept of artistic style as used by medievalists and as it functioned during the Middle Ages. Familiar with paleography as an important tool of their discipline, medievalists apply pro- cedures of stylistic analysis in order to date and place works. Like their counterparts in postmedieval fields, they focus on "Morellian" characteristics - on the "ductus" of drapery folds especially - even though the special nature of art production during the Middle Ages poses important theoretical questions about the validity of applied stylistics.144
Because artistic discontinuities were widely used for ex- pressive purposes during the Middle Ages, style has in- creasingly been taken as a signifier of meaning. Stylistic consistency marks certain classes of objects, more or less independent of date and place of production. And within single objects, aspects of rendering - scale, point of view, modeling, and so forth - were manipulated to stratify sub-
132 W. Tronzo, "The Prestige of St. Peter's: Observations on the Function of Monumental Narrative Cycles in Italy," Studies in the History of Art, 16 (Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts Symposium Series, iv), National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1985, 93-112. 133 Weitzmann-Fiedler (as in n. 101). 134 W. Tronzo, "The Hildesheim Doors: An Iconographic Source and Its Implications," Zeitschrift fiar Kunstgeschichte, XLVI, 1983, 357-66. 135 R. Oursel, Pelerins du Moyen Age, Paris, 1978; Dahl (as in n. 120); and M. Miles, Image as Insight, Boston, 1985. 136 Dahl (as in n. 120). 137 O.-K. Werckmeister, "Pain and Death in the Beatus of Saint-Sever," Studi medievali, xiv, 1973, 565-626, and Cormack (as in n. 29). 138 Gombrich (as in n. 72). 139 Brown (as in n. 16); A. Kazhdan and A. Cutler, "Continuity and Dis- continuity in Byzantine History," Byzantion, LII, 1982, 429-78; and Gil-
bert (as in n. 73). 140 J.-C. Bonne, L'art roman de face et de profil, Alengon, 1984, and L. Seidel, "Images of the Crusades in Western Art: Models as Metaphors," The Meeting of Two Worlds (as in n. 44), 377-91. 141 C. Meier, "Die Bedeutung der Farben im Werk Hildegards von Bingen," Friihmittelalterliche Studien, vI, 1972, 245-355, and C. Davis-Weyer, "Komposition und Szenenwahl im Dittochaeum des Prudentius," in Stu- dien zur spiitantiken und Byzantinischen Kunst Friedrich Wilhelm Deich- mann Gewidmet, Bonn, 1986, III, 19-29. 142 Bonne (as in n. 140). 143 Belting (as in n. 6), and idem, "The New Role of Narrative in Public Painting of the Trecento: Historia and Allegory," Studies in the History of Art, 16 (as in n. 132), 151-68. 144 V. Pace, "Possibilita e limiti dell'analisi stilistica come metodologia storica," Artistes, artisans et production artistique au Moyen-Age, ed. X. Barral i Altet, Rennes, 1983, I, 751-57.
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ject matter.145 Thus, as one example, the ordering of the narratives in the Upper Church at Assisi and the richly or- chestrated presentation of other subjects in the church re- spond to complex programmatic demands that are rein- forced also by choices of media (stained glass and fresco) and even by the type of architectural setting.146 In fact, me- dievalists deal more with the history of form (object-classes, materials, techniques, and function) than with the history of style (having an independent, internal cogency). The twelfth-century "renaissance" is characterized by the self- conscious appropriation of the late antique techniques of mosaic making, ivory carving, opus sectile, and of Early Christian and Byzantine iconography, much more than by a concerted attempt to create new works in a revived "style.""147 Even such fundamental "stylistic" phenomena as the development of naturalism during the twelfth and thir- teenth centuries are now linked to subtle changes in the function of art objects in the liturgy, including the need to affirm the presence of the living Christ in the Eucharist and the new relationship between image and beholder that evolved to suit private devotion.148
Morphological distinctions connoting place of origin, quality, and appearance were not unknown during the Middle Ages. One reads of Graeco opere and opere Sar- acenico, for instance.149 Furthermore, the implications of origin connoted by style were exploited by patrons and artists, as when Charlemagne set about to attach his court to the age of Constantine by rehabilitating classical forms, or the Macedonian emperors of Constantinople adapted the ancient style for similar ends. The use of the living By- zantine tradition as a surrogate for Early Christian forms reflects an ability to make subtle stylistic distinctions. Sim- ilarly, styles were mingled or merged to suggest the uni- fication of independent territories;1s0 tenth- and eleventh- century English art, for instance, is characterized by its stylistic syncretism.l51 Internal developments involving the criticism of previous styles and resulting in the transfor-
mation of stylistic schemata are difficult to document until the very end of the Middle Ages, indeed, until the time usually called the "proto-Renaissance" for just this rea- son.152 The last half of the twelfth century seems to be the one earlier moment in which a succession of nonfunctional morphological replacements can be traced: in Byzantium, a "dynamic" style gave way to an "art nouveau" style, which in turn ceded to a "monumental" style, sending a ripple across Europe.l53
What generated this development? The Crusades, which brought patrons into contact with a range of art forms, seem to be implicated.154 The first art collections can be traced to the twelfth century, suggesting the beginnings of stylistic discriminations destined also to affect production. Once choices were available, individual tastes could be sat- isfied.155 Naturalism, for instance - at first a vehicle of religious sentiment - could be assimilated to humanistic traditions and advanced in the court milieu as a manifes- tation of "talent."156
For whom was medieval art intended? Who made up its "audience"? Until recently, attention focused on piincely patrons and lowly illiterates. Now it is turning more and more to intermediary groups - the clergy and nobility - that used art to reaffirm their own beliefs.'57 Debate about the appropriateness of art in monasteries never subsided; from Caesarius of Arles through Bernard of Clairvaux and later, ascetic members of the community renounced both the luxury and human focus of art as inappropriate for mature monks.158 The debate only confirms the conclusion that art often functioned as a reminder of clerical monopoly for those without direct access to Scripture and other spir- itual instruments.159 Women seem to have made up a major segment of the audience, perhaps because such forms of art as the icon offered a means of private worship that com- pensated for the general exclusion of women from insti- tutional religion.160 In most cases, medieval "users" en- countered art over long periods and in stable conditions.
145 Kitzinger (as in n. 1) and Weitzmann (as in n. 21). 146 Belting (as in n. 114). 147 H. Toubert, "Le renouveau paleochretien a Rome au debut du XIIe siecle," Cahiers archkologiques, xx, 1970, 99-154, and Kitzinger (as in n. 41). 148 S. Sinding-Larsen, "Some Observations on Liturgical Imagery of the Twelfth Century," Acta ad Archaeologium et Artium Historiam Perti- nentia, viii, 1978, 193-212; Maguire, "Self-Conscious Angel" (as in n. 38), and Miles (as in n. 135). 149 E.F. Van der Grinten, Elements of Art Historiography in Medieval Texts, The Hague, 1969. 150 M. Gelfer-Jergensen, Medieval Islamic Symbolism and the Paintings in the Cefalz' Cathedral, Leiden, 1986. 151 R. Deshman, "Anglo-Saxon Art After Alfred," Art Bulletin, LVI, 1974, 176-200. 152 Baxandall (as in n. 58), and N. Bryson, Vision and Painting, New Haven and London, 1983. 153 Mouriki, "Stylistic Trends" (as in n. 37). 154 Muratova (as in n. 43). 155 U. Nilgen, "Intellectuality and Splendour: Thomas Becket as a Patron
of the Arts," in Art and Patronage in the English Romanesque (as in n. 86), 145-58. 156 Warnke (as in n. 59). 157 J. Mitchell, "St. Silvester and Constantine at the SS. Quattro Co- ronati," Federico II (as in n. 53), II, 15-32; Van Os (as in n. 91); Belting (as in in 42); Weitzmann-Fiedler (as in n. 101); B. Abou-El-Haj, "Bury St. Edmunds Abbey Between 1070 and 1124: A History of Property, Privilege, and Monastic Production," Art History, vi, 1983, 1-29; M.-L. Th6rel, A l'origine du decor du portail occidental de Notre-Dame de Senlis: Le triomphe de la Vierge-Eglise, Paris, 1984; E. Stiegman, "Saint Bernard: The Aesthetics of Authenticity," Studies in Cistercian Art and Architec- ture, II, 1984, 1-13; Cormack (as in n. 29); Camille (as in n. 86); and Kupfer (as in n. 91). 158 J. Van Engen, "Theophilus Presbyter and Rupert of Deutz: The Manual Arts and Benedictine Theology in the Early Twelfth Century," Viator, xi, 1980, 147-63, and Stiegman (as in n. 157). 159 Werckmeister (as in n. 137), and Seguy (as in n. 9). 160 J. Herrin, "Women and the Faith in Icons in Early Christianity," in Culture, Ideology and Politics, ed. R. Samuel and G.S. Jones, London, 1982, 56-83; Miles (as in n. 135); and X. Muratova, "Bestiaries: An Aspect of Medieval Patronage," in Art and Patronage in the English Romanesque (as in n. 86), 118-44.
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 179
6 Conques, Ste. Foy, west facade, central portal (photo: J. Austin)
This allowed them to decipher the messages in stages and often as part of a collective experience involving educated interpreters.
The circumstantial (not artistic) unity of medieval art works and their functional (not stylistic) relationship with one another pose particular problems for modern presen- tation. In art-historical texts, pieces extracted from accre- tive and complex monuments are usually arranged in gal- leries of plates that do not differentiate them from the art of other periods. In museums, too, the prevailing manner has been to disregard context and to let randomly accu- mulated and separately displayed objects stand for their age in the implied narrative of a universal art history. Al- most from the start of modern museology, however, meth- ods of presentation have been applied to medieval art that sacrifice chronology to a functional milieu. These efforts to reintegrate objects into an "authentic" experience have been unique to medieval museum collections and exhibi- tions. Beginning with the inauguration of the Mus&e Cluny in Paris'16 and extending to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Cloisters in New York and the Schniitgen Museum in Cologne, the approach continues in a Postmodernist guise that offers an ersatz "context." Though a commend- able motive to reestablish an original environment under- lies it, the approach is destined to fail because it must inev- itably "recreate" a context that never existed and, of course,
because the essential ingredients of liturgy, consecration, and faith are always lacking. To recreate the psychological aura needed to provide the historical dimension of medi- eval art, a spectator's informed imagination is better than mock apses and piped plainsong.162 More successful are the publication and display of church treasuries, especially in the few cases where authentic hoards can still be assem- bled.163 These cannot restore the functioning context, of course, but they do preserve intact the range and variety - and to a limited degree, the contiguities - of actual church art.
Production The Middle Ages generated neither a concept of fine art
per se, nor, until the very end, a speculative art market. "1 Thus, it was only very late that the idea of an individual "artist" with an independent, determining imagination emerged, and then only as part of the process leading to the Renaissance.'65 Medieval notions of art production were governed largely by three legacies, which in part account for the conflicted status of both the object and its maker. The antique system according to which art-making crafts were classed with the artes mechanicae, not the Liberal Arts, was most important, because this system controlled actual practice.66 Monasticism absorbed into Christian ideas the ancient aristocratic disdain for manual labor embodied in
161 S. Bann, The Clothing of Clio, Cambridge, 1984, and R. Grandi, "II Civico Medievale, formazione e vicende," in Introduzione al Museo Ci- vico Medievale, Bologna, 1985, 7-17. 162 In much the same way, the "purification" of medieval churches fails. By stripping the accretions of later periods, it not only denies an essential element of the medieval process, but also results in an artificially created context. 163 E.g., B. de Montesquiou-Fezensac and D. Gaborit-Chopin, Le tresor de Saint-Denis, Paris, 1977; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Treasury of San Marco, exh. cat., Milan, 1983; and P. de Winter, The Sacral Treasure of the Guelphs, Cleveland, 1985.
164 J. Larner, "Art, Commercial Trade of," in Dictionary of the Middle Ages, I, 560-63, and J. Diamond, "Manufacture and Market in Parisian Book Illumination Around 1300," Europiiische Kunst um 1300 (Akten des XXV. Internationalen Kongresses fiir Kunstgeschichte, Vienna, 1983), Vi- enna, 1986, vi, 101-10. 165 J. Larner, Culture and Society in Italy, 1290-1420, New York, 1971, and Roth (as in n. 73). 166 Ward Perkins (as in n. 19); D. Claude, "Les artisans dans le royaume merovingien selon les sources &crites," Artistes, artisans 1983 (as in n. 144), I, 20-41; and Roth (as in n. 73).
180 THE ART BULLETIN JUNE 1988 VOLUME LXX NUMBER 2
this means of classification. But it developed arguments that, because work - including the manufacture of art - was imposed on man after the Fall, it served a penitential function. The Rule of Saint Benedict (number 57), for in- stance, included craft activities among the forms of work appropriate to the cloister,167 and assigned a moral aspect to them. So long as it engendered no pride or excessive luxury, art contributed ad maiorem Dei gloriam; even though it implied neither divine inspiration nor personal sanctity in the maker, the making of religious art was an acceptable form of meditation.16s Many of the numerous artists' signatures surviving from the Middle Ages are framed in formulae of humility, seeking prayer and expiation.169
The Bible, in which God is called artifex et conditor and in which artists filled with God's spirit are commissioned to glorify his house, offered a different, more elevated model for artistic production. According to this concept, the artist is God's instrument, and his (or her) skill derives from a likeness to God through which spirituality is real- ized in material form. Particularly in Byzantium, under pressure from Iconoclasts to justify image-making, the bib- lical tradition came to prevail. Icon painting was traced back to the time of the Gospels and icon painters were con- sidered the virtual equals of priests.170 In the West, too, the manufacture of ecclesiastic art was considered pious labor appropriate only for virgin women and "moral" men.171
If Besalel was the artist's precursor, so too were Apelles and Daedelus; the humanist heritage was a third conceptual source and one increasingly invoked from the twelfth cen- tury on.172 Adapting this classical model, signatures differ- entiated artistic products and advanced the claim that art was not mere manufacture but a realization of theory, learning, and ideology. Workmanship, not just material value, was increasingly prized and promoted. Thus, em- phasis shifted away from the moral character of the maker
and toward the worth of the creation.173 The different legacies in part reflect the social diversity
of medieval art's producers. In monasteries every station, from abbots and abbesses on down, participated in the making of art. The icon painter was to be schooled first in spirituality and only secondarily in the techniques of his art. Secular artisans, in contrast, could be slaves. A com- mon textual topos reports how a serf is liberated on dem- onstrating extraordinary artistic skill.174 With the growth of towns from the twelfth century on, an artisan class be- came distinct, leading to increased specialization, controls, and a more positive attitude toward the mechanical arts.175 A few ancient texts had accorded artistic talent to the high- born and these helped to dilute the scorn toward manual endeavors. Medieval aristocrats, even kings and emperors, are reported to have produced works of art.176 As courts became centers of art production after the middle of the thirteenth century, artists themselves attained elevated sta- tus, as signaled by such titles as "valet de chambre" and "peintre du roy.'"177
Many artists were women. Generally ignored, primarily because they seem rarely to have participated in the making of frescoes or large-scale sculptures, women were, in fact, active in such major media as illuminated manuscripts, tex- tile weaving and embroidery, and metalwork.178 They in- cluded the nun Ende, who collaborated in the illustration of the Gerona Beatus,179 and Saint Edith, who was cele- brated for her stitching.1so Opus anglicanum, a major En- glish export art during the fourteenth century, was pro- duced by nuns and professional women artists. And female illuminators appear in number in fourteenth- and fifteenth- century guild records.
More is known about who medieval artists were than about how they worked because the written sources are largely secondary, consisting of histories of imperial reigns, hagiography, legal documents, and, for the later period,
167 J. Le Goff, "Travail, techniques et artisans dans les systemes de valeur du haut Moyen Age (Ve-Xe siecles)," Artigianato e tecnica nella societsa dell'alto medioevo occidentale (Settimane di studio del Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo, xviii), Spoleto, 1971, 239-66; Van Engen (as in n. 158); J. Leclercq, "Otium Monasticum as a Context for Artistic Crea- tivity," in Monasticism and the Arts, ed. T. Vernon, Syracuse, NY, 1984, 63-80; and A. Legner, "Illustres manus," in Ornamenta Ecclesiae (as in n. 74), I, 187-230. 168 Roth (as in n. 73), and H. Hoffmann, Buchkunst und K6nigtum im ottonischen und friihsalischen Reich, Stuttgart, 1986. 169 H. Klotz, "Formen der Anonymitit und des Individualismus in der Kunst des Mittelalters und der Renaissance," Gesta, xv, 1976, 303-12, and H. Belting, "Le peintre Manuel Eugenikos de Constantinople, en G6orgie," Cahiers archeologiques, xxviII, 1979, 103-114. 170 De' Maffei (as in n. 71), Torp (as in n. 88), and Hanning (as in n. 70). For a colophon attributing the illuminator's skill to God and suggesting that art is a divinely ordained vocation, see J. Anderson, "Cod. Vat. gr. 463 and an Eleventh-century Byzantine Painting Center," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, xxxii, 1978, 177-96. 171 Budny (as in n. 64), and X. Muratova, "Vir Quidem Fallax et Falsi- dicus, sed Artifex Praeelectus," Artistes, artisans (as in n. 39), I, 53-72.
172 H. Beck, "Der kunstfertige Schmied - ein ikonographisches und nar- ratives Thema des friihen Mittelalters," Medieval Iconography and Nar- rative, Odense, 1980, 15-37, and P Claussen, "Kiinstlerinschriften," Or- namenta Ecclesiae (as in n. 74), I, 263-76. 173 Claussen (as in n. 72), and R. Haussherr, "Arte nulli secundus: Eine Notiz zum Kiinstlerlob im Mittelalter," Ars Auro Prior (Studia Ioanni Bialostocki Sexagenario Dicata), Warsaw, 1981, 43-49. 174 Claude (as in n. 166). 175 P. Burke, "L'artista: Momenti e aspetti," Storia dell'arte italiana (as in n. 58), 11, 85-113. 176 M. Cal6 Mariani, "Federico II e le 'artes mechanicae,"' Federico II (as in n. 53), 11, 259-75, and N. Oikonomides, "L'artiste-amateur Ai Byzance," Artistes, artisans (as in n. 39), I, 45-50. 177 Warnke (as in n. 59). 178 D. Miner, Anastaise and Her Sisters, Baltimore, 1974; Weitzmann- Fiedler (as in n. 101); A.W. Carr, "Women and Monasticism: An Intro- duction from an Art Historian," Byzantinische Forschungen, Ix (1985), 1- 15; Budny (as in n. 64); and Legner (as in n. 167). 179 J. Casanovas, "The Beato of Gerona," in Beati in Apocalypsin Libri Duodecim (Codex Gerundensis), Madrid, 1975, 219-38. 180 Dodwell (as in n. 68).
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 181
some commercial materials.181 During late antiquity, pro- duction was located in towns, indeed, mostly in the same centers that had provided pagan art.ls2 Though some evi- dence of monastic work survives,'3" art production was at that time largely secular, leading to Christian assimilation of pagan conventions. With the general relocation of ar- tisan activity to monasteries during the eighth and ninth centuries, production methods were adapted to cloister routines, and any one artist might be master of several arts. Work in the officina was collaborative and unspecialized.'M Around the turn of the twelfth century, for instance, the Abbot of St. Trond prepared the vellum for a book, wrote the text, and illuminated it.18 Some of the most prestigious courts seem to have supported "workshops" during the early Middle Ages, though precisely how these were or- ganized is unclear. Most often, royal patronage was di- rected through monastic establishments.s86 From the elev- enth century, at least, lay artisans worked together with the monks;187 for large, technically complex undertakings, hired laymen could have primary responsibility.'88 Some of these laymen may have operated out of established shops; others must have been itinerant. Though how labor was organized can only be deduced from the works themselves, it appears to have been divided systematically among workers. 189
During the twelfth century, methods were devised for accelerated production to meet the demands of such new monastic orders as the Cistercians and for such complex works as the new glossed Bibles.190 The gradual increase in commercial production fostered the growth of shops. What were commonly family establishments for both producing and selling art came to resemble other business enterprises where apprentices received training and professional spe-
cialization grew. In both Byzantium and the West, teams of artists also came together ad hoc to fill special needs through temporary collaborative undertakings.191 In the production of illuminated manuscripts, for instance, book sellers became active entrepreneurs, organizing enterprises and farming out work. Increasingly, itinerant artists moved through Europe: an Englishman in Spain, a painter of French heritage in Constantinople, a Byzantine frescoist in Genoa.192 Courts became especially active and attractive, offering artists freedom and promoting art of a distinctly international character.193 The variety of fourteenth-cen- tury art reflects the new diversity of production and market conditions.
In the circumstances that obtained through most of the Middle Ages, conceptualization and execution of works of art were largely independent. Planning was done by a learned advisor - either the patron or head of a monastic or secular shop; realization was the work of a craftsman.194 Until late in the period, virtually every work of art was made on commission, and inventories as well as inscrip- tions usually give credit to the commissioner, not the ar- tisan.195 Though sometimes the division resulted from prac- tical exigencies (as when Byzantine mosaicists were employed in the West196), the importance of conception rather than realization was enshrined in theory. This re- flects the fundamental conflict in medieval attitudes toward the material world and manual labor. As promulgated at the Second Council of Nicaea (787), for instance, the theory held that manufacta could only embody those sacred truths which were conserved in Church tradition as transmitted through learned advisors. A result was that advisors and patrons not only instigated projects and provided material for the production of medieval art but also often chose the
181sl E. Patlagean, "Sources &crites et histoire de la production artistique ia Byzance," Artistes, artisans (as in n. 39), I, 29-41. 182 Brenk et al. (as in n. 15). 183 Claude (as in n. 166) and Roth (as in n. 73). 184 J.J.G. Alexander, "Scribes as Artists: The Arabesque Initial in Twelfth- century English Manuscripts," Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Li- braries. Essays Presented to N. R. Ker, London, 1978, 87-116, and A. Cohen-Mushlin, "The Labour of Herimann in the Gospels of Henry the Lion," Burlington Magazine, cxxvii, 1985, 880-87. 185 Branner (as in n. 56). 186 C. Nordenfalk, Codex Caesareus Upsaliensis, Uppsala, 1971; R. McKitterick, "The Palace School of Charles the Bald," Charles the Bald (as in n. 100), 385-400; and F. Miitherich, "The Library of Otto III," in The Role of the Book in Medieval Culture (Proceedings of the Oxford International Symposium 1982), ed. P. Ganz, Turnhout, 1986, II, 11-25. 187 Nordenfalk (ibid.), Belting (as in n. 169), and Hoffman (as in n. 168). 188 Mango (as in n. 9). 189 I. SevEenko, "On Pantoleon the Painter," Jahrbuch der Oster- reichischen Byzantinistik, xxI, 1972, 241-49; L.M.J. Delaiss&, "The Im- portance of Books of Hours for the History of the Medieval Book," Gath- erings in Honor of Dorothy E. Miner (as in n. 81), 203-25; and A. Cohen- Mushlin, The Making of a Manuscript, Wiesbaden, 1983.
190 P. Stirnemann, "Nouvelles pratiques en matiere d'enluminure au temps de Philippe Auguste," La France de Philippe Auguste - Le temps des mutations (Actes du Colloque International Organish par le CNRS), Paris, 1982, 955-78, and W. Cahn, "The Rule and the Book: Cistercian Book Illumination in Burgundy and Champagne," in Monasticism and the Arts (as in n. 167), 139-72. 191 H. Buchthal and H. Belting, Patronage in Thirteenth-Century Con- stantinople, Washington, DC, 1978; A. W. Carr, Byzantine Illumination 1150-1250, Chicago, 1987; and Diamond (as in n. 164). 192 Oakeshott (as in n. 50); L. Striker, "Crusader Painting in Constanti- nople; The Findings of the Kalenderhane Camii," Medio oriente e l'oc- cidente (as in n. 46), 117-21; and R. Nelson, "A Byzantine Painter in Genoa: The Last Judgment at S. Lorenzo," Art Bulletin, LXVII, 1985, 548-66. 193 Cal6 Mariani (as in n. 176) and Warnke (as in n. 59). 194 E. Kitzinger, "The Gregorian Reform and the Visual Arts: A Problem of Method," in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, xxii, 1972, 87-102, and Cormack (as in n. 32). 195 The problem is complicated by the fact that such seemingly simple words as "facere" meant either "to make" or "to have made"; see Hoff- mann (as in n. 168) and F. Newton, "Leo Marsicanus and the Dedicatory Text and Drawing in Monte Cassino 99," Scriptorium, xxxIII, 1979, 181- 205. 196 Demus (as in n. 11) and Nelson (as in n. 192).
182 THE ART BULLETIN JUNE 1988 VOLUME LXX NUMBER 2
subject matter, selected models, and formulated content.197 Desiderius of Montecassino,198 Suger of St. Denis,199 and Bernard of Clairvaux are perhaps the best-known art pa- trons. The men's visions and commitments transformed the art of their times. But the decisive involvement of many other patrons can also be traced, among them Benedict Bis- cop,200 Pope Boniface VIII,201 and Theodora Raoulaina.202
Though the act of patronage could be quite rudimentary, it often involved an explicit and subtle interaction between advisor and artist. Written instructions to artists survive, for instance, in the Quedlinburg Itala manuscript, attesting to the participation of a literate advisor as early as the fifth century,203 and planned transactions between artists and ad- visors can be documented throughout the period.204 In the case of manuscripts, authors themselves sometimes super- vised illuminators, the illustrations being integral to au- thorial conception.205 Corporate patrons, the monastic and mendicant orders especially, had set goals of their own and applied uniform systems to the production of art. The Fran- ciscans, for instance, promoted certain forms, styles, and iconographies;206 so, too, did the Dominicans.207
Not surprising, tensions arose. Wary of artistic license, Church authorities found evil even in innovations whose expressive value they could appreciate. The attack on three- nail Crucifixions by Lucas of Tuy is a famous case in point; recognizing that the recently devised iconography might advance devotion, the bishop nonetheless condemned it as contrary to tradition and hence heretical.208 As in literature and theology, artistic originality consisted more in the choice of models and in their reformulation than in inven-
tion.209 The purpose of art was, after all, to perpetuate pur- portedly immutable truths, not to convey individual ob- servations or to be elaborated with inspired additions. Even in the secular realm, medieval art was forcefully conven- tional.210 Although considerably greater freedom for in- novation existed there than in religious production,211 sec- ular art, too, was governed by the requirement of accuracy in recording secular history.212
The urge toward continuity rather than innovation was inherent in Christianity itself. Dependence on models had an existential dimension during the Middle Ages.213 So, log- ically, copying was a common procedure, either because an object had a venerable or even divine pedigree, or be- cause it stood for a valued tradition. Icon painting sought to replicate the archetypes.214 In manuscript illumination, where the scribal mentality reinforced the principle of ac- curate copying, art was principally an act of duplication. Although personal traits and even small intentional alter- ations always appear, the goal was generally to come as close as possible to reproducing the model.215 The same ad- herence to sources affected monumental art forms as well. Though many factors - architectural settings and liturg- ical requirements, for example - precluded perfect adher- ence to prototypes,216 when frescoes were repainted or re- stored, the new works often conformed to the previous imagery.217 Replication also served to identify one culture with another, and so it was especially common during pe- riods of renewal - following Iconoclasm, for instance, or during the Carolingian period.
Craft traditions themselves helped to perpetuate both
197 U. Bergmann, "PRIOR OMNIBUS AUTOR - an h6chster Stelle aber steht der Stifter," Ornamenta ecclesiae (as in n. 74), I, 117-48. 198 H. Bloch, Montecassino in the Middle Ages, Rome and Cambridge, MA, 1986. 199 P. Gerson, "Suger as Iconographer. The Central Portal of the West Facade of Saint-Denis," in Abbot Suger and Saint-Denis. A Symposium, ed. P. Gerson, New York, 1986, 183-98. 200 P. Meyvaert, "Bede and the Church Paintings at Wearmouth-Jarrow," Anglo-Saxon England, viii, 1979, 63-77. 201 J. Gardner, "Boniface VIII as a Patron of Sculpture," Roma Anno 1300, (as in n. 114), 513-27. 202 Buchthal and Belting (as in n. 191). 203 I. Levin, The Quedlinburg Itala, Leiden, 1985. 204 F. Avril, "Un manuscrit d'auteurs classiques et ses illustrations," The Year 1200: A Symposium, New York, 1975, 261-70; B. Brenk, Die friih- christlichen Mosaiken in S. Maria Maggiore zu Rom, Wiesbaden, 1975; T. Mathews, "The Epigrams of Leo Sacellarios and an Exegetical Ap- proach to the Miniatures of Vat. Reg. Gr. 1," Orientalia Christiana Per- iodica, XLIII, 1977, 94-113; L. Brubaker, "Politics, Patronage, and Art in Ninth-Century Byzantium: The Homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus in Paris (B.N.Gr. 510)," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, xxxix, 1985, 1-13; M. Camille, "Illustrations in Harley MS 3487 and the Perception of Aristotle's Libri naturales in Thirteenth-Century England," in England in the Thirteenth Century, Suffolk, 1985, 31-43; and D. Bernstein, The Mystery of the Bay- eux Tapestry, Chicago, 1987. For a complex example of interaction, see B. Brenk, "Le texte et l'image dans la 'Vie des saints' au Moyen Age: R0le du concepteur et r1le du peintre," Texte et image (Actes du Colloque In- ternational de Chantilly, 1982), Paris, 1984, 31-39. 205 F. Avril, "Les manuscrits enlumines de Guillaume de Machaut," in
Guillaume de Machaut, Paris, 1982, 117-32. 206 Belting (as in n. 114), Blume (as in n. 98), and Van Os (as in n. 91). 207 J. Cannon, "Simone Martini, the Dominicans and the Early Sienese Polyptych," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XLV, 1982, 69-93. 208 Gilbert (as in n. 73). 209 Seidel (as in n. 140) and Wright (as in n. 128), 53-66. 210 M. A. Stones, "Secular Manuscript Illumination in France," Medieval Manuscripts and Textual Criticism, ed. C. Kleinhenz, Chapel Hill, NC, 1976, 83-102, and Camille (as in n. 86). 211 C. Gaignebet and J. Lajoux, Art profane et religion populaire au Moyen Age, Paris, 1985. 212 P. Brown, "Painting and History in Renaissance Venice," Art History, viI, 1984, 263-94. 213 P. Springer, "Modelle und Muster, Vorlage und Kopie, Serien," in Or- namenta Ecclesiae (as in n. 74), I, 301-14. 214 Galavaris (as in n. 88). 215 K. Weitzmann, "The Study of Byzantine Book Illumination, Past, Pres- ent, and Future," in The Place of Book Illumination (as in n. 131), 1-60; Belting and Cavallo (as in n. 31); and J. Lowden, "The Production of the Vatopedi Octateuch," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, xxxvi, 1982, 115-26. 216 E. Kitzinger, "The Role of Miniature Painting in Mural Decoration," Place of Book Illumination (as in n. 131), 99-142; idem (as in n. 39); Demus (as in n. 11); and H. Kessler, "Pictures as Scripture in Fifth-Century Churches," Studia Artium Orientalis et Occidentalis, II, 1985, 17-31. 217 C. Bertelli, "La mostra degli affreschi di Grottaferrata," Paragone, no. 249, xxI, 1970, 91-101.
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 183
forms and styles, sometimes over long periods.218 The ap- prenticeship system was fundamentally conservative. The training of artists reflected the attitude: Nihil innovetur, nisi quod traditum. And in both the East and the West it consisted in teaching techniques largely through replicating examples.219 In preparing works of art, medieval craftsmen used stamps, stencils, molds, and matrices that were passed on from generation to generation.2" Small objects - man- uscripts, icons, ivories, and metalwork - could be copied directly; when artifacts were being used as prototypes for other media or when nonmovable objects were being cop- ied, model books were used. These were kept in a shop and were even legally bequeathed, assuring the perpetuation of forms for decades.221 They also were used ti, transmit for- mal and iconographic features from place to place and gen- eration to generation.222 Authority actually adhered to the pictorial guides; the eighth-century Life of Saint Pancratius of Taormina, for instance, reports that none other than Saint Peter himself equipped missionaries to Sicily with drawings used in decorating new churches.223 The Francis- cans used the same method to assure conformity, author- izing certain patterns in the decoration of their churches;224 and a modelbook (now at Yale University) helped an Or- thodox community in an Arabic country preserve its tra- ditions.225 In some cases, written guides rather than pictures served the same function, aiding the makers of art to as- semble and arrange fragments and motifs. Artistic recipe books also recorded and distributed technical information.226
Medieval artists assembled "motif books" to record for later use interesting patterns, profiles, and isolated figures they had either seen or invented.227 The Wolfenbiittel Mus- terbuch is a well-known (and much-studied) example. Itself perhaps the replica of a more elaborate version, the sketch- book contains figures copied by an Italian artist from mos- aics, sculpture, and paintings seen in the course of travels in Venice and the Balkans during the period of the Crusader conquest.228 Containing parts of compositions and only fragments of figures, the Musterbuch reveals its artist's par- ticular interest in the representation of volume and move-
ment - Eastern stylistic features at the time being absorbed by thirteenth-century Latin artists. Quotations from the sketchbook were incorporated by a Saxon illuminator, sug- gesting how forms and motifs made their way across great distances and through diverse media.
Reflecting the exchange of peoples during the Crusades, the Wolfenbiittel Musterbuch betrays, in its personal se- lection and taste, signs of weakening in the tyranny of tra- dition. Along with the development of trade, the growth of an urban bourgeoisie, and the Church's promotion of images as means of private devotion, artists' travels con- tributed to the thirteenth-century transformation of art production. And speculative production of art began to break the pattern of close collaboration between artist and patron and, in many cases, between the work and its spe- cific function. Certain centers gained trade monopolies on specific art forms - Venice in glass crafts, for instance, and Norwich in alabaster - and art dealers began to emerge.229 Under pressures of commodification, speciali- zation intensified and techniques akin to those of mass pro- duction evolved. Competition increased the value placed on skill and individual fame. Distinctive technical achieve- ments assured steady patronage. And guarantees that goods were produced according to accepted standards, sought through regulation and legislation, stabilized markets.230 The ability to differentiate places of origin, producers, workshops, and, ultimately, identifiable artists also gained importance. Art was no longer seen merely as manufacture but as the product of a learnable profession, a liberal art; and the making of art was seen to require not just manual skill but talent.231 Now prized, individual observations were set down in a new type of modelbook and something com- parable to modern drawings appeared.232
The Place of Art Powers attributed to vision gave force and persistence
to art in medieval culture. Following ancient speculation, medieval theologians praised sight as the most spiritual of the senses and the source of divine knowledge;233 and so art, because it is visual, acquired a special dignity. Believ-
218 Branner (as in n. 56). 219 Torp (as in n. 88), and The 'Painter's Manual' of Dionysius of Fourna, transl. P. Hetherington, London, 1974. 220 J. Salomonson, "Spiitr6mische rote Tonware mit Reliefverzierung aus nordafrikanischen Werkstitten," Bulletin antieke Beschaving, XLIV, 1969, 4-109, and Springer (as in n. 213). 221 F.E Cheetham, English Medieval Alabasters, Oxford, 1984. 222 J. Wollesen, Die Fresken von San Piero a Grado bei Pisa, Bad Oeyn- hausen, 1977. 223 C. Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire 312-1453, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1972. 224 Blume (as in n. 98). 225 Buchthal (as in n. 51). 226 B. Bischoff, "Die Oberlieferung der technischen Literatur," Artigianato (as in n. 167), 267-96; and B. Binsch, "Technische Literatur," Ornamenta Ecclesiae (as in n. 74), i, 348-51. 227 C. Nordenfalk, "Corbie and Cassiodorus, A Pattern Page Bearing on the Early History of Bookbinding," Pantheon, xxxii, 1974, 225-31, and
E. Vergnolle, "Un carnet de modiles de l'an mil originaire de Saint-Benoit- sur-Loire," Arte medievale, ii, 1985, 23-56. 228 E. K6nig, "Zur Bildfolge im 'Wolfenbiitteler Musterbuch,' " Zeit der Staufer (as in n. 43), v, 335-52, and Buchthal (as in n. 51). 229 Larner (as in n. 165). 230 W. Cahn, Masterpieces, Princeton, 1979; A. Laiou, "Venice as a Centre of Trade and of Artistic Production in the Thirteenth Century," Medio oriente e loccidente (as in n. 46), 11-16; and 0. Grabar, "Trade with the East and the Influence of Islamic Art on the 'Luxury Arts' in the West," ibid., 27-33. 231 Hanning (as in n. 70) and Claussen (as in n. 172). 232 B. Degenhart and A. Schmitt, Corpus der italienschen Zeichnungen 1300-1450, Berlin, 1968-82; U. Jenni, "Vom mittelalterlichen Musterbuch zum Skizzenbuch der Neuzeit," Die Parler (as in n. 59), III, 139-50; and Ames-Lewis (as in n. 13). 233 S. Edgerton, The Renaissance Rediscovery of Linear Perspective, New York, 1975; Miles (as in n. 135); and D. Summers, The Judgment of Sense, Cambridge, etc., 1987.
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ers, needing to see and witness, were attracted by the an- imating character of art, in particular that of three-dimen- sional objects, which, like the sacraments, invigorated their faith.234 Tied in medieval epistemologies to reason and memory, sight was afforded a unique place in edification and instruction;235 Christ, it was noted, taught through demonstration. Art and sight together were regarded as foundations for an orderly progression from the world of matter to the spiritual realm; they were a fundamental means for advancing religion.236
Visual beauty was taken as a reflection of divine beauty, the ornamented church as an imitation of the heavenly Church. As suggested by such scattered scriptural refer- ences as Psalm 26:8 and the description of the celestial Je- rusalem in the Book of Revelation, the beauty of art was taken to be an analogue of the pure, essential beauty of Heaven. Incorporating divinely inspired ideas and appeal- ing to the most spiritual sense, art was an instrument of meditation on this beauty and purpose;237 following God's laws, it elevated matter to a spiritual state. Accordingly, in making a work of art, the artist was seen merely to be actualizing an antecedent design; he or she merited no real credit for the achievement except for the degree of ap- proximation to the ideal.238
Credence that, in Christ, God had assumed physical form implicated art in Christology, the most fundamental of all medieval theological issues.239 Long before the eighth- and ninth-century Iconoclastic disputes, Christ was considered the eikon of God. To challenge the appropriateness of im- ages of him was to deny the Incarnation. And the defense of images was extended to depictions of Mary and the saints.
While attesting to the historical veracity of God's inter- ventions, images also confirmed his continuing presence on earth - like the relics and sacraments with which they were associated - mediating between this world and the next. By asserting the real presence of the subjects depicted, art provided a privileged means of communication with per-
sonages believed to be living in a world beyond the sensory one. In so doing, it reinforced the special importance and sanctity of the places that sheltered images.240 Consecrated, or rendered in precious materials that lifted the figures out of the earthly realm, images were incarnations of the di- vine; as such, they also played affective roles - stirring the emotions, speaking, converting, and healing.241 The stigmatization of Saint Francis is but one, albeit the most famous episode, in which images operated fully in real his- tory.242 The reality ascribed to the effigy also served mun- dane purposes, helping to memorialize, for instance,243 or - harnessed to defamatory portraits of criminals - to punish.244
Despite the authority that medieval Christianity vested in Scripture, words were not deemed fully reliable; texts, after all, could be altered, translated, and glossed. And in a predominantly oral culture, words were transmitted through the ears, not the eyes.245 Indeed, though painting drew upon different conventions, it was taken to be an exercise parallel to writing, as the use of the same vocab- ulary - graphe, zoographFa historia, schema - makes clear.246 Moreover, because visual memory was considered especially strong, the experience of literature itself involved seeing; by appealing to the "mind's eye," which made men- tal images available to the rational faculty, art could train memory to extraordinary capabilities.247 Because of its mnemonic capacity, art was put to the service of instruction and preaching.248
Art's testimonial power assured pictorial narrative a spe- cial place in medieval culture.249 In picturing the events de- scribed in Scripture, art attested to the events' actuality and hence to God's intentions in history. Even relatively sche- matic depictions added a sense of reality to words;250 nat- uralistic renderings, embodying laconic details, conveyed the literal sense of the divine account in a concrete language that enhanced the feelings of immediacy.251
The Church recognized the value of art as a missionary tool. Images eased the conversion from pagan practices that
234 Bonne (as in n. 140); H. Kessler, "Pictorial Narrative and Church Mis- sion in Sixth-Century Gaul," Studies in the History of Art, no. 16 (as in n. 132) 75-91; Miles (as in n. 135); and Kartsonis (as in n. 29). 235 V. Kolve, Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative, Stanford, 1984. 236 B. Nolan, The Gothic Visionary Perspective, Princeton, 1977; G. Lad- ner, "Medieval and Modern Understanding of Symbolism: A Compari- son," Speculum, LIv, 1979, 223-56; S. Ringbem, "Some Pictorial Con- ventions for the Recounting of Thoughts and Experiences in Late Medieval Art," Medieval Iconography and Narrative (as in n. 172), 38-69; Caviness (as in n. 33); Roth (as in n. 73); and Summers (as in n. 233). 237 Nolan (as in n. 236) and Summers (as in n. 233). The very attraction of art also served to hold the faithful's attention and relieve boredom; see Gilbert (as in n. 73). 238 Hanning (as in n. 70). 239 L. Barnard, "The Theology of Images," in Iconoclasm (as in n. 27), 7- 13, and D. Stein, Der Beginn des byzantinischen Bilderstreites und seine Entwicklung bis in die 40er Jahre des 8. Jahrhunderts, Munich, 1980. For later involvement, see C. Bynum, "The Body of Christ in the Later Middle Ages: A Reply to Leo Steinberg," Renaissance Quarterly, xxxIx, 1986, 399- 439. 240 Dahl (as in n. 120) and Cormack (as in n. 29).
241 Dahl (ibid.) and E Biuml, "Varieties and Consequences of Medieval Literacy and Illiteracy," Speculum, Lv, 1980, 237-65. 242 Belting (as in n. 42). 243 Herklotz (as in n. 61). 244 G. Ortalli, "Pingatur in Palatio": La pittura infamante nei secoli XIII- XVI, Rome, 1979. 245 Camille (as in n. 86), Cormack (as in n. 29), and Kartsonis (as in n. 29). 246 De' Maffei (as in n. 71), Meyvaert (as in n. 200), and Maguire, Art and Eloquence (as in n. 38). 247 Maguire (ibid.), Kolve (as in n. 235), and Summers (as in n. 233). 248 J. Friedman, "Les images mnemotechniques dans les manuscrits de '16poque gothique," in Jeux de memoire, Montreal and Paris, 1985, 169-
84. 249 Brown (as in n. 212). 250 H. Stahl, "Old Testament Illustrations during the Reign of St. Louis: The Morgan Picture Book and the New Biblical Cycles," Medio oriente e loccidente (as in n. 46), 79-93, and Kartsonis (as in n. 29). 251 Werckmeister (as in n. 137), Marrow (as in n. 14), and Belting (as in n. 114).
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 185
relied on cult statues, and they demonstrated God's pres- ence in lands never visited by Christ or his Apostles.252 Pic- tures' accessibility made them compelling instruments for teaching the lessons of Scripture to both converts and the faithful; as enunciated by Pope Gregory the Great, reiter- ated by Thomas Aquinas among many others, and en- shrined in canon law, "pictures are the books of the illit- erate."253 Diminishing the basic tension created by the centrality of the written Word in a largely illiterate society, pictorial narratives became an important component of public art. Sacred stories depicted on the walls of conse- crated buildings helped the believers to "see" the messages taught in sermons and to recall the lessons later.254 Like Church drama, moreover, they also made the written ac- counts seem real and vivid, transforming lofty verbal re- ports into personal experiences.
Pictorial narrative in its primal manifestation - the il- luminated book - was part of a complex interplay between text and image. Illustrations derived a special authority from association with their sacred writings, and they led the viewer/reader to conclusions that were persuasive pre- cisely because they were integrated into the literal ac- count.255 Thus, in the fifth-century Cotton Genesis, the Cre- ator is characterized as the Christ-Logos to establish the Son's pre-existence to creation, and Tamar and her children are given special prominence, not because of their impor- tance in the Old Testament story, but because they were ancestors of Christ.256 Similarly, pictorial topoi were em- ployed to "rewrite" the accompanying texts. In the Bible of Leo Sacellarios, they transform the episode of the Levites Carrying the Ark of the Old Covenant into a demonstra- tion of the Christian liturgy;257 and in an eleventh-century Life of Saint Alban, they reveal the saint to be a new John the Baptist.258 In other instances, pictures provided a sep- arate commentary on the accompanying text by connecting and contrasting passages and offering moral readings.259 In a reversal of the process, images based on canonical texts
were sometimes introduced into commentaries and apoc- ryphal writings to anchor the new versions to the author- itative sources.260
In the public context outside the book, pictorial narrative emphasized literalness by drawing on illustrated manu- scripts as models or by adopting the structures of book art.261 Here, however, sacred Scripture no longer acted as a validating referent and control, and different conditions of viewing governed the presentation of history. Pictorial formulae provided a basic vocabulary262 and the use of sim- ple outlines and strong colors enhanced legibility.263 Spatial disposition created a syntax;264 orderly succession in space suggested passage in time; atemporal juxtapositions de- claimed diachronic relationships and demonstrated the teleological unity of sacred history. And the vivid "re- enactment" of past events itself displaced them to a new time and place, thereby linking the story of salvation to the present.265
Doctrinal readings were introduced into the pictured texts, as in manuscripts, through internal glosses; the Cre- ator was identified either as Christ or the Trinity, for in- stance, to convey a central tenet of Christian exegesis.266 Narrative formulae established typologies, as when scenes from the life of Saint Peter were constructed of materials taken from Moses iconography to assert the idea - im- portant in Early Christian Rome - that Peter was heir to Moses as spiritual and temporal leader of the Chosen Peo- ple.267 Though pictures could teach theological lessons, cap- tions and labels were often added to underscore the typo- logical messages.268 Especially during the Romanesque period, elaborate symbol systems and complex schemata, as well as compositional conventions and inscriptions, transformed narratives into sophisticated metaphysical and metahistorical presentations.269 For illiterates, reading the simple historiae must have been taxing; comprehending the interpretive imagery of Romanesque tympana or even the relatively transparent Early Christian programs would
252 Kessler (as in n. 234). 253 W.-Jones, "Art and Christian Piety: Iconoclasm in Medieval Europe," in The Image and the Word, ed. J. Gutmann, Missoula, 1977, 75-105; Kessler (as in n. 234); and Camille (as in n. 86). 254 Friedman (as in n. 248). 255 M. Schapiro, Words and Pictures, The Hague and Paris, 1973; Brenk (as in n. 204); and A. St. Clair, "A New Moses: Typological Iconography in the Moutier-Grandval Bible Illustrations of Exodus," Gesta, xxvi, 1987, 19-28. 256 K. Weitzmann and H. Kessler, The Cotton Genesis, Princeton, 1986. 257 Mathews (as in n. 204). 258 Brenk (as in n. 204). 259 J. Gaehde, "Carolingian Interpretations of an Early Christian Picture Cycle to the Octateuch in the Bible of San Paolo fuori le Mura in Rome," Friimittelalterliche Studien, vIII, 1974, 351-84; H. Buchthal, "The Exal- tation of David," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, xxxvii, 1974, 330-33; K. P. Wentersdorf, "The Symbolic Significance of Figurae Scatologicae in Gothic Manuscripts," Word, Picture, and Spectacle (as in n. 70), 1-19; and T. A. Heslop, " 'Brief in Words but Heavy in the Weight of Mysteries,' " Art History, ix, 1986, 1-11.
260 K. Weitzmann, The Miniatures of the Sacra Parallela, Princeton, 1979, and Brubaker (as in n. 204). 261 Kitzinger (as in n. 216), and Kessler (as in n. 216). 262 F. Garnier, Le langage de limage au Moyen Age, Paris, 1982. 263 Brenk et al. (as in n. 15). 264 On the historical determination of artistic syntax, see Nolan (as in n. 236); S. Nichols, Romanesque Signs, New Haven and London, 1983; and Bonne (as in n. 140). 265 Belting (as in n. 114); F. Deuchler, "Le sens de la lecture. A propos du boustroph6don," Etudes d'art mbdieval offertes a Louis Grodecki, Paris, 1981, 251-58; Nichols (as in n. 264); Bonne (as in n. 140); and Kupfer (as in n. 91). 266 J. Zahlten, Creatio mundi, Stuttgart, 1979. 267 C. Pietri, Roma christiana, Rome, 1976, and H. Kessler, "Scenes from the Acts of the Apostles on Some Early Christian Ivories," Gesta, xvIII, 1979, 109-19. 268 B. Brenk (as in n. 204); R. Pillinger, Die Tituli Historiarum, Vienna, 1980; and Davis-Weyer (as in n. 141). 269 Ladner (as in n. 236), Seidel (as in n. 32), Nichols (as in n. 264), Cav- iness (as in n. 33), and Bonne (as in n. 140).
186 THE ART BULLETIN JUNE 1988 VOLUME LXX NUMBER 2
surely have been impossible - at least without informed assistance.270 Thus, the "bibles of the lay" reinforced the ultimate priority of words over images. It must be remem- bered, however, that the decoding of pictures, like listening to sermons, was an aspect of communal religion involving diverse levels of society at once.271
Images also served the educated, of course. For insiders, one job of art was to support and reconfirm cherished be- liefs. Pictures functioned as a divinely ordered memory sys- tem, dealing out images of historical events in ordered stages, regulating liturgical performances, fixing a viewer's time and place to the course of sacred time, and recalling the essential points of Christian doctrine.272 And art could make arguments - sometimes drawing conclusions not possible to express in any other manner - as at Assisi, where the fate of the Roman Catholic Church was provi- dentially tied to Saint Francis and the Franciscan order,273 or in the Bayeux Tapestry where, in a celebration of vic- tory, a subversive political message may have been introduced.274
Especially in public works, art tended to stratify its au- dience. Like the Scripture it substituted for, art could be read literally, symbolically, and anagogically.275 With such artistic cues or devices as naturalism, inscriptions, typo- logical conventions, schemata, and ornament, the levels were accessible according to the viewer's learning.276 Be- ginning in the twelfth century, artists worked steadily to integrate the several modes of interpretation. Without sac- rificing spiritual meaning, they strove to make the reading literal by operating according to the divine system that gov- erns nature itself, including optics. They emphasized Christ's life and Passion as the most effective means to ap- prehend spiritual reality through physical sight.277 And they transformed the unfolding of sacred history in art into a system of meditation; this led the soul from sin to salvation and translated it in ordered stages from this world to the full ecstasy of pure contemplation.278 Influenced by views espoused by Hugh of St. Victor and his contemporaries, that the visible was a demonstration of the invisible world, they presented pictorial narrative as an instrument of direct communication with the divine. No longer principally a means for confirming Church doctrine or instructing, art
sought to generate pious sentiments in the beholder and serve as a moral model.279
Recent scholarship, finally free from preoccupation with classical forms and misplaced concern with "creative art- ists," has begun to write an anthropology of medieval art. No longer resistant, historians now accept tradition as cen- tral in medieval art-making, and they are investigating copying, citation, imitation, and reuse as expressive media. That is one reason why the Crusader period - only now emerging as a subject - is so important, with its receptivity to foreign impulses, including classical antiquity and Islam. At that time art generated new uses and new modes of pro- duction. And most important, the system of internal ref- erencing was dislodged, permitting such new centers of ar- tistic production as Venice and Paris to replace the old capitals of Rome and Constantinople.
But while the works of art now best understood are, of course, those which were agents of religious devotion, in- struction, and ritual, secular art needs similar attention - not just imagery of rulers, which has always held a special fascination, but vernacular forms as well. And ornament, which so dominates the aspect of medieval objects, war- rants serious and thorough treatment.
Still, despite some progress, far too little is known about the production and distribution of art during the Middle Ages. The status of art-making, a meditative and redemp- tive activity of importance for both artisan and patron in- dependent of the final product, needs to be investigated. The full implications of the role of patrons/advisors have yet to be drawn. And for a culture that regarded artistic mastery as equaling, not surpassing, that of predecessors, "originality" must be reconsidered and assigned an appro- priate place.
Stimulated by renewed interest in the place that texts held in oral culture, historians have been investigating the interaction between visual art and the word with partic- ularly fruitful results. They risk losing sight of art's unique roles, however, and of its characteristic means for filling them. And by torturing every bit of information from sparse sources, scholars may be obscuring or overlooking important historical distinctions. To the extent that each
270 Brenk (as in n. 204), and I. Ragusa, "Porta patet vitae sponsus vocat intro venite and the Inscriptions of the Lost Portal of the Cathedral of Esztergom," Zeitschrift fiir Kunstgeschichte, XLIII, 1980, 345-51. On the reading and misreading of narrative, see W. Tronzo, The Via Latina Cat- acomb, University Park, PA, 1986. 271 Kessler (as in n. 216) and Camille (as in n. 86). 272 Nolan (as in n. 236), Camille (as in n. 86), and Friedman (as in n. 248). 273 Belting (as in n. 114). 274 Bernstein (as in n. 204).
275 R. Haussherr, "Sensus litteralis und sensus spiritualis in der Bible mora- lisle," Friihmittelalterliche Studien, vi, 1972, 356-80. 276 Belting (as in n. 114), Nichols (as in n. 264), Bonne (as in n. 140), and Gilbert (as in n. 73). 277 G. Zinn, Jr., "Suger, Theology, and the Pseudo-Dionysian Tradition," Abbot Suger (as in n. 199), 33-40. 278 Nolan (as in n. 236). 279 Belting (as in n. 143), Zinn (as in n. 277), and W. Kemp, Sermo Cor- poreus: Die Erziihlung der mittelalterlichen Glasfenster, Munich, 1987.
ON THE STATE OF MEDIEVAL ART HISTORY 187
work encapsulates the special circumstances that engen- dered it and rendered it accessible to its first users, under- standing it requires unique methods. And insofar as the rules of syntax governing each work of art served for a limited duration and only in certain places, they have their own historicity. The same is also true of every medieval statement on art. It, too, was conditioned by its immediate circumstances; it, too, had its history.
In these conditions, one should not be surprised that much of the very best recent scholarly writing has focused on single works or on small groups of related monuments. These monographic studies provide important source ma- terial; but the history of medieval art must still be written.
Herbert Kessler's earliest publications were on Northern Renaissance art, including the exhibition catalogue, French and Flemish Illuminated Manuscripts from Chicago Col- lections (1969). His subsequent work has centered on early Western and Byzantine manuscripts, painting, and ivory carving, and taken form in The Illustrated Bibles from Tours (1977), The Cotton Genesis (with Kurt Weitzmann, 1986), and various articles, most recently in Dumbarton Oaks Pa- pers (XLI, 1987), and the Jahrbuch ftir Antike und Chris- tentum (xxx, 1987). His current research is on narrative and medieval church decoration in Rome. [Department of the History of Art, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218]
Article Contentsp. p. 167p. 168p. 169p. 170p. 171p. 172p. 173p. 174p. 175p. 176p. 177p. 178p. 179p. 180p. 181p. 182p. 183p. 184p. 185p. 186p. 187
Issue Table of ContentsThe Art Bulletin, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Jun., 1988), pp. 166-367Front MatterThe State of ResearchOn the State of Medieval Art History [pp. 166-187]Coming of Age: Historical Scholarship in American Art [pp. 188-207]Some Observations on Recent Architectural History [pp. 208-241]
Observations on Illustrated Byzantine Psalters [pp. 242-260]Federico Borromeo as a Patron of Landscapes and Still Lifes: Christian Optimism in Italy ca. 1600 [pp. 261-272]Carlo Cesare Malvasia's Florentine Letters: Insight into Conflicting Trends in Seventeenth-Century Italian Art Historiography [pp. 273-299]The Muse du Louvre as Revolutionary Metaphor During the Terror [pp. 300-313]E.B. Lamb: A Case Study in Victorian Architectural Patronage [pp. 314-345]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 346-347]Review: untitled [pp. 347-350]Review: untitled [pp. 351-352]Review: untitled [pp. 352-354]Review: untitled [pp. 354-359]Review: untitled [pp. 359-362]Review: untitled [pp. 362-364]
List of Books Received (October, 1987 - January, 1988) [pp. 365-367]Back Matter