Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century

Overview

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 ...

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Religious Art in France of the Thirteenth Century

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
<: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 (booknews.com)
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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: 1,404,086
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

PREFACE
ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
INTRODUCTION
I. GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MEDIÆVAL ICONOGRAPHY
  I. Mediæval Iconography is a script.
  II. It is a calculus.
    The mystic numbers.
  III. It is a symbolic code.
    Art and the Liturgy.
II. METHOD USED IN THIS STUDY OF MEDIÆVAL ICONOGRAPHY-THE MIRRORS OF VINCENT OF BEAUVAIS
BOOK I
  THE MIRROR OF NATURE
  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."
BOOK II
  THE MIRROR IF INSTRUCTION
  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.
BOOK III
  THE MIRROR OF MORALS
  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.
BOOK IV
I. THE MIRROR OF HISTORY. THE OLD TESTAMENT
  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.
II. THE GOSPELS
  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.
III. APOCRYPHAL STORIES ; OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT
  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.
IV. THE SAINTS AND THE GOLDEN LEGEND
  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."
V. ANTIQUITY. SECULAR HISTORY
  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.
VI. THE CLOSE OF HISTORY-THE APOCALYPSE-THE LAST JUDGMENT
  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
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