I do my best to accurately credit the images I post here; however, if you see an image belonging to you that is either improperly credited or you simply do not want it on the blog, please feel free to contact me and I will edit/remove it. I don’t claim ownership of any of these images unless stated otherwise. Images may have text captions which credit the source or they may have click-through links.
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For some reason, my blog theme won’t show the captions to photosets (I might be doing something wrong- if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!)
So here is a link to medievalpoc’s original post on the Black Virgin of Montserrat (click) so you can read the caption from my blog’s home page.
Also, if you aren’t familiar with/aren’t following medievalpoc, go check out their blog!
Doorway from Moutiers-Saint-Jean
Made in Burgundy, France
'According to tradition, the monastery of Moutiers-Saint-Jean was founded by the first Christian kings of France, Clovis I and his son Clothar I. They are almost certainly depicted in the standing figures presenting their charters, now installed in the embrasures on either side of the portal. The small seated figures in the flanking niches represent biblical personages believed to prefigure or foretell Christ's Crucifixion. The tympanum above the doorway depicts Christ crowning the Virgin as the Queen of Heaven. This portal, probably from the north aisle of the cloister, would have led from the monastic precinct into the abbey church. The portal suffered severe damage during the sixteenth-century Wars of Religion; the heads of the two kings may have been repaired in the seventeenth century.'
The doorway is in the collection of The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Description and image taken from the Met’s website, where you can zoom in on photos of the doorway.
Cloister from Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert
Late 12th c.
'Situated in a valley near Montpellier in southern France, the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert was founded in 804 by Guilhem (Guillaume) au Court-Nez, duke of Aquitaine and a member of Charlemagne's court. By the twelfth century, the abbey had been named in honor of its founder and had become an important site on one of the pilgrimage roads that ran through France to the holy shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. With the steady visits of travelers en route to the shrine and the gifts they brought with them, a period of prosperity came to the monastery. By 1206 a new, two-story cloister had been built at Saint-Guilhem, incorporating the columns and pilasters from the upper gallery seen here. Most of these columns are medieval versions of the classical Corinthian column, based on the spiny leaf of the acanthus. This floral ornamentation is treated in a variety of ways. Naturalistic acanthus, with clustered blossoms and precise detailing, is juxtaposed with decoration in low, flat relief, swirling vine forms, and even the conventionalized bark of palm trees. Among the most beautiful capitals are those embellished by drill holes, sometimes in an intricate honeycomb pattern. Like the adaptation of the acanthus-leaf decoration, this prolific use of the drill must have been inspired by the remains of Roman sculpture readily available in southern France at the time. The drilled dark areas contrast with the cream-colored limestone and give the foliage a crisp lacy look that is elegant and sophisticated.
Like other French monasteries, Saint-Guilhem suffered greatly in the religious wars following the Reformation and during the French Revolution, when it was sold to a stonemason. The damages were so severe that there is now no way of determining the original dimensions of the cloister or the number and sequence of its columns. Those collected here served in the nineteenth century as grape-arbor supports and ornaments in the garden of a justice of the peace in nearby Aniane. They were purchased by the American sculptor George Grey Barnard before the First World War and brought to this country. A portion of the original cloister remains at Saint-Guilhem.’
The cloister is in the collection of The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Description and image taken from the Met’s website. You can see more photos of the cloister here on their site.
Capitals from the Cloister from Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa
'The Benedictine monastery of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, located at the foot of Mount Canigou in the northeast Pyrenees, was founded in 878. In 1791, Cuxa's monks departed in the wake of the French Revolution, and much of the monastery's stonework was subsequently dispersed. The monastery's cloister, built during the twelfth century, originally measured some 156 by 128 feet, or approximately twice its current size at The Cloisters, much of whose architecture is modern. Like the ensemble from Saint-Guilhem, elements were purchased by George Grey Barnard and brought to the United States; part of the cloister survives at the monastery which, once again, houses a community of monks.
The cloister was the heart of a monastery. By definition, it consists of a covered walkway surrounding a large open courtyard, with access to all other monastic buildings. Usually attached to the southern flank of the church, a cloister was at the same time passageway and processional walkway, a place for meditation and for reading aloud. At once serene and bustling, the cloister was also the site where the monks washed their clothes and themselves.
The warm beauty of the native pink marble used at Cuxa harmonizes this cloister’s many elements, such as the varied capital sculptures carved during different periods in its construction. Some of these are fashioned in the simplest of block forms, while others are intricately carved with scrolling leaves, pinecones, animals with two bodies and a common head (a special breed for the corners of capitals), lions devouring people or their own forelegs, or a mermaid holding her tail. While many of these motifs may derive from popular fables or depict the struggle between the forces of good and evil, the conveyance of meaning seems to have been less important for the Cuxa artists than the creation of powerful works capturing the energy and tension between the forms depicted.’
Description and image taken from the Met’s website. You can see more photos of the cloister here on their site.
'This semicircular arch comprises seven stone blocks (known as voussoirs) decorated with eight real and fantastic animals: left to right, a manticore (“man-eater” in Persian, with the face of a man, the body of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion); a pelican (symbol of Christ); a basilisk (dragon with a serpent's tail, signifying the power to kill); a harpy (half- woman, half-bird creature whose sweet song lures men to their deaths); a griffin (with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle); an amphisbaena (serpent with a head at either end); a centaur (with the head and torso of a man and lower body of a horse); and a crowned lion. These are all animals familiar from medieval bestiaries: texts compiled in the twelfth century describing such creatures and explaining their moral and religious associations.
The closest parallel to the carving style of the arch can be found in the nave capitals of the mid-twelfth-century church of Saint-Paul-Serge in Narbonne, but the original location of the arch remains unknown.’
The arch is in the collection of The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image and description taken from the Met’s website.
(**Tour 2/5, see this post for more information)
Workshop of Master Biduino (Italian, active last quarter of the 12th c.)
Doorway from the Church of San Leonardo al Frigido
Carrara marble and re-used antique sarcophagus
'Dedicated to Saint Leonard, the patron saint of prisoners, this portal served as the main entrance of the small Church of San Leonardo al Frigido. An antique sarcophagus was reused for the supporting jambs on the sides of the door; it was carved to show scenes of the Annunciation and the Visitation on the left and an image of Saint Leonard holding an emblematic prisoner on the right. The Entry into Jerusalem on the lintel is modeled after an Early Christian tomb relief. The doorway is a product of the workshop of Master Biduino, who worked in the Pisa-Lucca area.'
The doorway is in the collection of The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Description and images taken from the Met’s website. You can see more images of the doorway (with zoom ability) here on their site.
**As a side note, this was one of the five works at The Cloisters I spent last summer developing a public gallery tour around. I’ll be posting the other four works soon so you can go on a virtual version of my tour if you’d like. My tour focused on architectural sculpture at The Cloisters. I hope you like it!
Thank you! I’ve been around but haven’t posted anything for a while. My semester is pretty slow right now, so I hope to post more of the works I’ve been learning about in class (Northern Renaissance).
Oil on panel
Commissioned by Angelo Tani, an Italian banker with the Medici bank in Bruges. The kneeling figure being weighed by St. Michael is believed to be Tommaso Portinari, who took over Tani’s position at the bank in Bruges. Portinari, along with members of his family, can be seen in donor portraits in Hugo van der Goes’s Portinari Altarpiece, c. 1475.
This painting is in the collection of Poland’s National Museum in Gdańsk. Image taken from Wikipedia.
Circle of Geertgen tot Sint Jans
The Tree of Jesse
Oil on panel
"Pictured here symbolically is Christ’s family tree. It grows out of the sleeping figure of Jesse, forefather of a line of kings that included, according to tradition, Solomon, David, and Jesus. The branches are filled with the kings of Israel, among them King David with his harp. At top, the Virgin is enthroned with the Christ Child on her lap."
Description and image taken from the Rijksmuseum’s website.
I promised myself I wouldn’t flood this blog with photos from this summer but here is one I took that I really like.
The Cloisters, NYC
La Pieta, by Niccolo dell’Arca, in the Santuario di Santa Maria della Vita di Bologna, Bologna, Italy, mid-late fifteenth century. Painted terracotta figures. The figures surrounding the dead Christ are, from left to right, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Salome (mother of John), the Virgin Mary, John, Mary Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Image taken from ARTstor and figural description taken from here.