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Early Medieval Synopsis:

Medieval Art

Early Medieval art combines German and late Roman traditions, with influence from northern Christian art and Islamic art from Spain. "Celtic and Germanic peoples executed pieces in abstract patterns inherited from the Bronze and Iron Ages, in a manner known as the animal style" (Stokstad, 182). Metalworking was important in Anglo-Saxon art, such as the Gummersmark brooch. A purse cover from the Sutton Hoo burial site is an another example of metalwork in animal interlace pattern, with cloisonne enamel. Large decorated gospel books, such as the Book of Kells, contained pages abstract ornament with hidden human and animal forms. Vikings invaded northern Europe and left examples of their art such as large rune stones and picture stones.

Medieval Spain was a combination of Christian and Islamic worlds, resulting in the hybrid Mozarabic style. In France and Germany Charlemagne established a far-reaching Christian empire. His palace at Aachen, Germany, is influenced by the art of Rome and Ravenna. The octagonal structure, surrounded by an ambulatory and gallery, focuses on the verticality of the central area. A westwork, or monumental entrance section, emphasizes the main facade.The production of books was important in this region as well. Examples include the Page with Matthew the Evangelist, from the Ebbo Gospels, and the elaborate Crucifixion scene on the cover of the Lindau Gospels.

The Ottonian period which followed introduced a style of large wood and bronze sculpture "that would have a significant influence on later medieval art" (Stokstad, 190). Drawing on Roman, Byzantine and Carolinian sources, this art is exemplified in the Doors of Bishop Bernward, Hildesheim, Germany. German artists from this period also had access to Italian art, which they reinterpreted to create the Romanesque stlye.Source:

Early Medieval Art in the West

Early Medieval Art 476 - 1024


Westwork - monumental entrance section
Embrasure - 1. The crenels or intervals between the merlons of a battlement. 2. An enlargement of a door or windown opeing at the inside face of the wall by means of splayed sides.


Purse cover from the Sutton Hoo ship burial, Suffolk, England, c. 655

Symbol of St. Matthew from Echternach Gospels c. 700

The Book of Kells, Dublin, Ireland, late 8th to early 9th century

Chi-rho-iota page, The Birth of Christ 13” x 9 1/2” Tempera on vellum
The eight-circle Cross, St. Matthew’s Gospel

The Scribe Ezra Rewriting the Sacred Records, from the Codex Amiatinus, c. 689 - 719

Cover of the Codex Aureus of St. Emmeram, c. 870

Christ in Majesty, Four Evangelists, and Scenes from the Life of Christ

Cover of the Lindau Gospels, gold, precious stones, pearls c. 870

Schematic plan for a monastery at St. Gall, Switzerland, c.819

Abbey Church of St. Michael, Hildesheim, Germany, c. 1001-1031

Interior Nave

Nave Roof Frescos

Bronze doors 16’6” (Genesis & Life of Christ) 1015

Crucifix commissioned by Archbishop Gero for Cologne Cathedral , Germany Wood, 6’2”,
Cathedral, Cologne, c. 970

The Annunciation to the Shepherds, from the Lectionary of Henry 11, 1002-1014
Gospel Book of Otto III, 997 - 1000

Otto III Enthroned Receiving the Homage of Four Parts of the Empire,
St. Luke

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