Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Medieval Painting

Lindisfarne Gospels Illuminated manuscripts were showcases for the most skillful painting of medieval times. The Lindisfarne Gospels (about 698-721) are illuminated books produced by monks in Northumberland, England. This page shows the first initial to the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. The interlacing patterns decorated with fantastic creatures were taken from Viking art and became Irish and Anglo-Saxon motifs.Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York

The art of the Middle Ages—that produced outside the Byzantine Empire and within what had been the northern boundaries of the Roman world—can be categorized according to its distinctive stylistic traits. Anglo-Irish art, which flourished from the 7th to the 9th century in monasteries in various parts of the British Isles, was largely an art of intricate calligraphic designs (see Celts: Art; Irish Art; Calligraphy). Highly decorative illuminated manuscripts were produced, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels (698?-721, British Museum, London), which display flat, elaborate linear patterns combining Celtic and Germanic elements. In the Romanesque period, during the 11th and 12th centuries, no single style appeared in the manuscripts of northern Europe; some illuminations were of classical inspiration, while others show a new, highly charged, energetic drawing style (see Romanesque Art and Architecture). In the Gothic period that followed, from the later part of the 12th century to the beginning of the Italian Renaissance, a larger repertoire of media was introduced, and painting ceased to be entirely the product of the monasteries
Calligraphy, the art of fine writing or script. The term calligraphy is derived from the Greek kalligraphia, meaning “beautiful writing,” and is applied to individual letters as well as to entire documents; it also refers to an aesthetic branch of paleography. In Islamic countries and in India, China, and Japan, calligraphy is done with a brush and has been a highly respected art form for many centuries. In the West, calligraphy eventually evolved from the earliest cave paintings, such as those (35,000-20,000 bc) at Lascaux, France, into the abstractions that became the familiar letterforms of the alphabet.

Japanese Calligraphy This hanging scroll is an example of Japanese calligraphy. Although calligraphy is generally considered a form of lettering, it is also... a drawing style. The lettering and figure of a sage are done in ink, using a brush. The rectangular forms are made with stamps, using red ink.

Objects of Celtic Life Celtic objects found in archaeological digs indicate the Celts inhabited what is now France and western Germany in the late Bronze Age, around 1200 bc. The bronze helmet (top center) probably belonged to a high-ranking Celtic warrior. Its hollow horns were made of riveted sheets of bronze, and the helmet was probably more for display than battle. The shiny sheath (third from left) also was made from sheets of bronze riveted together and had a birch-bark lining.Dorling Kindersley

Gundestrup Cauldron The Gundestrup Cauldron is a relic of the Celtic world. Dating from about 100 bc, the silver vessel shows scenes from Celtic myth and religion whose meanings today are unclear. It is in the National Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark.Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

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