Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century


The art in medieval cathedrals, in addition to its profound aesthetic appeal, told unlettered churchgoers a series of morality tales. From divine creation to the lives of the saints, the stone sculpture and stained glass windows provided dramatic illustrations of the key elements of Christian doctrine. Unfortunately, the true meaning of these religious artworks was gradually obscured by time. In 1913, however, this brilliant study appeared, clarifying and illuminating the original ideas and concepts behind the ...

See more details below
Paperback (DOVER)
$17.44 price
(Save 12%)$19.95 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $4.39   
  • New (3) from $10.07   
  • Used (8) from $4.39   
Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49 price
(Save 42%)$19.95 List Price


The art in medieval cathedrals, in addition to its profound aesthetic appeal, told unlettered churchgoers a series of morality tales. From divine creation to the lives of the saints, the stone sculpture and stained glass windows provided dramatic illustrations of the key elements of Christian doctrine. Unfortunately, the true meaning of these religious artworks was gradually obscured by time. In 1913, however, this brilliant study appeared, clarifying and illuminating the original ideas and concepts behind the sacred art of the Middle Ages. The book was hailed by Bernard Berenson as "the most illuminating, the most informing and the most penetrating book on the subject."
Focusing on the 13th century as the apotheosis of the medieval style, Mâle, a noted art historian, explains that the decorative features of French cathedrals served as testimonials of religious faith. His topics include medieval iconography, bestiaries, illustrated calendars, representations of the virtues and vices, symbolic windows, saints, the gospels, secular history, and many other aspects of medieval religious art. This groundbreaking work, enhanced with 190 illustrations that buttress the points made in the text, remains unsurpassed in its style and brilliant synthesis of many disparate elements of the topic.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

<:st>Reprint of M<^a>le's classic study originally published in 1913 ( and cited, with his work on the 14th C.; in . Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486410616
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 1/17/2012
  • Series: Dover Fine Art, History of Art Series
  • Edition description: DOVER
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,470,352
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

  I. Mediæval Iconography is a script.
  II. It is a calculus.
    The mystic numbers.
  III. It is a symbolic code.
    Art and the Liturgy.
  I. To the mediæval mind the universe a symbol.
    Sources of this conception.
    "The "Key" of Melito."
    The Bestiaries.
  II. Animals represented in the churches ; their meaning not always symbolic.
    Symbols of the Evangelists.
    Window at Lyons.
    Frieze at Strasburg.
    Influence of Honorious of Autun ; the Bestiaries.
  III. Exaggerations of the symbolic school.
    Symbolism sometimes absent.
    Flora and fauna of the thirteenth century.
    "Gargoyles, monsters."
  I. Labour and learning ; their part in the work of redemption.
    Manual work.
    Representations of the labours of the months ; illustrated calendars.
  II. Instruction ; the Trivium and Quadrivium.
    Martinus Capella and the Seven Arts.
    Influence of his book on mediæval Literature and Art.
  III. Representations of Philosophy.
    Influence of Boethius.
  IV. Conclusion.
    The Fate of Man.
    The Wheel of Fortune.
  I. Representations of the Virtues and Vices in mediæval Art.
    The Psychomachia of Prudentius and its influence.
  II. The Virtues and Vices seen under new forms in the thirteenth century.
    "The twleve Virtues and the twelve Vices at Notre Dame at Paris, Chartres and Amiens."
  III. The Active and the Contemplative Life.
    Statues at Chartres.
  I. The Old Testament regarded as a figure of the New Testament.
    Sources of the symbolic interpretation of the Bible.
    The Alexandrian Fathrs.
    St. Hilary.
    St. Ambrose.
    St. Augustine.
    Mediæval Doctors.
    The Glossa Ordinaria.
  II. Old Testament types in Tours
  III. Old Testament types of the Virgin.
    The porch at Laon.
    Influence of Honorius of Autun.
  IV. The Patriarchs and the Kings.
    Their symbolic function.
  V. The Prophets.
    Attempts in mediæval Art to give plastic form to the Prophecies.
  VI. The Tree of Jesse.
    "The Kings of Judah on the façade of Notre Dame at Paris, at Amiens, and at Chartres."
  VII. Summary.
    The symbolic medallions in Suger's windows at St. Denis.
    The statues of the north porch at Chartres.
  I. The life of Christ only partially represented in mediæval art.
    Reason for this.
    Representation of the Church Calendar only.
    Influence of the Liturgy.
    The Christmas and Easter cycles.
  II. Symbolic interpretation of the New Testament.
    The Nativity.
    The Crucifixion.
    The first and the second Adam.
    The Resurrection.
    The Marriage at Cana.
  III. The Parables.
    Parables of the Wise and Foolish Virgins and of the Good Samaritan.
    Their symbolic significance.
    Parables of Dives and Lazarus and of the Prodigal Son.
  I. Legends relating to the Old Testament.
    The death of Cain.
  II. Legends relating to the New Testament.
    The Gospel of the Infancy.
    The Gospel of Nicodemus.
  III. Apocryphal stories of the Infancy.
    The ox and the ass.
    The midwives.
    The Magi and their journey.
    Miracles of the Child in Egypt.
  IV. Apocryphal features in the public life of Christ.
    The marriage at Cana.
  V. Legends of the Passion and the Resurrection.
    Legends of the Cross.
    The descent into Limbo.
    The Appearances.
  VI. Some traditional features in works of art ; their origin.
    Studio traditions.
    "Probable "Guide to Painting" in the thierteenth century."
  VII. Legends of the virgin.
    Cult of the Virgin in the thirteenth century.
    Birth of the Virgin.
    SS. Anne and Joachim.
    Marriage of the Virgin.
    The Annunciation ; details of apocryphal origin.
    "Death, burial and coronation of the Virgin."
  VIII. Miracles of the Virgin.
    Story of Theophilus.
    The De Gloria Martyrum of Gregory of Tours.
    Explanation of windows at Le Mans.
  I. The Saints.
    Their place in the life of the Middle Ages.
  II. The Golden Legend ; its character and its charm.
  III. The artists' interpretation of the Golden Legend.
    Endeavour to express holiness.
  IV. Characteristics of the saints.
    Emblems and attributes.
    Reaction of art on legend.
  V. Characteristics of saints and the craft guilds.
    Patron saints.
  VI. The favourite saints of the Middle Ages.
    The apostles.
    Their apocryphal history ; the pseudo-Abdias.
    Attributes of the apostles.
  VII. Local saints.
  VIII. Saints adopted by the whole of Christendom.
  IX. Influence of relics on the choice of saints.
  X. Choice of saints by donors.
    The confraternities.
  XI. Influence of pilgrimages on the choice of saints.
    "St. James, St. Nicholas and St. Martin."
  I. Antiquity.
    The great men of antiquity rarely represented in the cathedrals.
    Aristotle and Campaspe.
    Virgil in the basket.
    The Sibyl as the sybol of antiquity.
    The sibyl Erythraea alone represented in the thirteenth century.
    Reasons for this.
  II. Symbolic interpretation of classical myths.
    Ovid moralised.
  III. History of France.
    Kings of scenes in the history of France.
    Baptism of Clovis.
    Story of Charlemagne (window at Chartres).
    The Crusades.
    Life of St. Louis.
  I. The Apocalypse.
    The artists' sources of inspiration.
    The Spanish and the Anglo-Norman apocalypse ; influence of the latter.
  II. The Last Judgment ; its representation and sources.
    Importance of the Elucidarium of Honorius of Autun.
    Precursory signs.
    The Second Coming of Chirst.
    The Resurrection of the Dead.
    The Judgment.
    St. Michael and his
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)