chapter 9 AWHOA

notes for chapter 9 – Medieval Europe

Political, economic and social factors

Charlemagne died in 814 after which there were invasions form Vikings, Islam and Magyars. Very turbulent times. 10th Century the Romanesque style emerges after Muslims pushed out of Italy and the city states develop (church rebuilding programme started). 11th Century the Gothic style emerges. During 10/11th Century Germany and France start developing their own cultural identity fuelled partly by the church. Gothic cathedrals built in a way to bring the community together both through construction and its place in the heart of the town/city, it also helped commerce in terms of attracting pilgrims. 13th Century decline in mosaic production to economic downturn, people turned to wall painting instead which was much cheaper. Bubonic plague hit Europe in 1348 which led to the greater strangle hold of the rich and powerful in society (especially land owners and merchants). As a consequence commissioning of art by secular powers developed and led onto a flourishing of art and inventiveness paving way for the Renaissance.

Changes to status or training of Artists

Monks were taught to produce illuminated manuscripts. Rise of the ‘Master Mason’ they would travel around and get ideas from other Cathedrals to bring back and develop on their own projects. Up until the emergence of Giotto painters are not valued very highly or treated very well. Giotto broke the mould and became both wealthy and celebrated in his lifetime. He really developed patronage to his own advantage.

Development of materials and processes

During Medieval period both the production of stained glass and illuminated manuscripts was developed. Romanesque = dev. of the barrel vault and the internal buttress. Gothic = dev. of the groin vault and external buttress. Buttresses and arches generally dev. to help with problems of ever increasing dimensions of Cathedrals in this period but were turned into notable decorative features themselves during the Gothic period. Church figure carving becomes more realistic and naturalistic during Gothic period. Fresco/secco painting developed as mosaic died out.

Styles and movements

Stained glass developed as a way for the church do display Gospel events to the masses (i.e. those who could not read the bible themselves). Helped to spread the church’s message.

Romanesque style emerged, was quite conservative and backward looking (began in Tuscany). Outside of churches reflect inside, lots of geometrical patterns. Style spread to other parts of Italy then across Europe fuelled by monasteries being set up. Romanesque has origin in Roman engineering.

Gothic developed after starting in France (St Denis, Paris), then spread to other parts of France and then England, Germany and Italy. See next page for main differences between two styles. Attempt to unite heaven and earth for the brethren through soaring architecture, diffused light through the windows, etc… – give an unearthly feel detached from normal life. Cathedral helps to reinforce the faith and revels in the glory of god.


Critics, thinkers and historians

The term Romanesque was coined in the 19th Century as a derogatory term meaning debased Roman.

What are the Arcade, Triforium and Clerestory?

Taken from the website

a quick help for remembering what each bit is in a Cathedral/church.

The clerestory are the top, often “rose” or circular style windows that cap the top of a gothic style wall just under the vaults.

triforium is an architectural device that separates the arcade from the balcony or the arcade from the windows above. It is often a row of tiny arches carved into the stone.

An arcade is a hall with at least one side consisting of a long series of arches. These are often open to the outdoors, to the nave, or glassed in. These often occur on the ground floor.

Here is an image to help illustrate how the outside of the Cathedral coincides with the inside and makes it whole in design.


Greek and Roman statue assignment

I was asked to do an annotation for a Greek and a roman sculpture, after the trip to the British Museum to find the right statues i have now completed the annotations themselves.


Although i think i have done an ok job in selecting the works and compiling the information to go with it I am always disappointed by my execution of the actual annotation because of my poor presentation and diabolical hand writing. not much i can do about it but it does get me down as i am not the artistic type just an art lover! i do feel that the annotated work does favour those with artistic skills and really highlights the lack of these in others like me. I just hope that presentation of these does not make up part of the assessment.


Trip to British Museum

A couple of weeks back i visited the British Museum to study Greek and Roman sculptures for my assignments. Unfortunately Greek statues are a little thinking on the ground there as most are Roman copies of Greek originals. In the end I managed to find a Greek statues of the goddess Demeter.


I picked this as I felt it showed how during Greek times sculptures were less naturalistic and we’re idealised. Especially when compared with the sculpture of Venus that I selected for a Roman sculpture.


This is also of a goddess but couldn’t be more different, it isn’t idealised and is also in a very naturalistic pose. The Demeter statue seems to say to me that the gods are different and special where as the Venus one says that the gods are just like you and me.

Hopefully this will come through in my assignment the the waters are slightly muddied as the Venus statue is supposedly a copy of a Greek original though we can never know how closely this statue kept to the original.

It was a hard selection process though but I was pretty happy with my choices in the end.




Assignment 2 prep – the difference between Greek and Roman sculpture.

Some quick and easy differences to focus on when comparing a Greek and a Roman Sculpture to compare for assignment 2. Off to British Museum in a couple of weeks to complete this part of the assignment, hopefully these pointers will help with both the selection of subjects and the comparison of them.


Greek Statues                                                 Roman Statues

Idealised form                                                  More realistic in form


Statues usually stand unaided                    Statues often need support to stand or balance


Mostly nude statues                                       More likely to be clothed


Mainly bronze then marble                         Mostly just marble


Mostly mythical subjects                              More historical and real subjects


Painting of marble sculptures                      Didn’t usually paint them


Detached/unemotional face                          Highly decorated


Based on human symmetry                           Smaller heads, longer limbs


Focus on reason/moderation                         More ostentatious


“Heroic nude” a theme                                   Portrait busts developed