V&A Year Course Outline. Early Medieval: 300-1250

Steve Kershaw is a tutor for the Early Medieval: 300-1250 Year Course at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. It runs on Fridays from 20 September 2013 to 11 July 2014 over 3 term.

The period between 313 and 1250 is arguably the most varied in the history of European art and architecture. In the west it encompasses the Late Antique, Early Christian, Carolingian, Ottonian, Anglo-Saxon, Romanesque and Early to High Gothic periods, and, in the east, the Early and Middle Byzantine eras. This was an epoch that witnessed dramatic political change and was dominated by the burgeoning power of the church.

The Roman Empire disintegrated in the 5th century leading to the fragmentation of Western Europe, but the period that followed, described by conventional wisdom as the “Dark Ages”, saw the production of objects that reveal sophisticated taste and technical accomplishment. By 1000 stable nation states had emerged, and, simultaneously, a more international visual aesthetic was forged, through marriage alliances, pilgrimage, trade, and the Crusading movement which brought West and East into close contact with one another.

The course is focused upon the visual arts of this intriguing period, many of which are represented in the V&A’s abundant medieval collections: architecture and sculpture, metalwork and enamels, silks and embroidery, ivory carving and manuscript illumination, wall painting and mosaic. Contextual issues such as political structures and philosophical thought, patterns of patronage and devotion, and the inheritance of the Classical world are investigated, to interpret further the surviving artefacts and monuments. The materials and techniques employed by the typically anonymous, frequently monastic, craftsmen of the period are explored, and a series of case studies, revolving around works of seminal importance, provide a focus within the major themes of the course.

Course Director:

Dr Sally Dormer is a specialist medieval art historian and lecturer who gained an MA in Medieval Art History and a PhD on medieval manuscript illumination at the Courtauld Institute, University of London. She is Dean of European Studies, a study abroad semester for undergraduates from the University of the South and Rhodes College, USA, and teaches for the Art Fund, NADFAS and Swan Hellenic.

Course Consultant:

Dr Catherine Oakes is Director of Studies in Art History at the University of Oxford,

Department of Continuing Education. She is a specialist medieval art historian and lecturer who gained her PhD from the University of Bristol. Dr Oakes has published widely and is the author of Ora Pro Nobis: The Virgin as Intercessor in Medieval Art and Devotion (Brepols, 2008). She also teaches for NADFAS and Swan Hellenic.

Other Lecturers:

– Anna Eavis, English Heritage

– Dr Steve Kershaw, Archaeology, Continuing Education, Oxford University

– Dr Cecily Hennessy, Lecturer, Christie’s Education

– Professor Henry Mayr-Harting Retired Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History, University of Oxford

- Rev. Gordon Mursell, retired Bishop of Stafford and Lecturer, University of Glasgow

- Prof. David Park, Wall Painting Conservation Department, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, University

– Dr Richard Plant, Course Director, Christie’s Education

- Dr Nina Ramirez, History of Art, Continuing Education, Oxford University

AUTUMN TERM: 300 - 800

The first term covers the period between the early fourth century and 800. In 313 the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, thereby granting Christianity tolerated status for the first time. As the Roman Empire collapsed, Christianity flourished, and a specifically Christian visual iconography evolved, relying heavily, for inspiration, on the weakening tradition of pagan Antiquity. This is the period when purpose-built churches began to be constructed, and the codex, or book, gradually replaced the roll as a means of storing text and accommodating illustrations.

In the Byzantine Empire, beliefs specific to the Eastern Church, combined with the tenacious persistence of Classical Antiquity, and exotic influences borrowed from neighbouring states produced a distinctive artistic aesthetic. Theological concerns, provoked and enhanced by fear of Islam’s dramatic territorial gains in the early 7th century, led to Iconoclasm (726-843). Figurative Christian images were banned in the Byzantine world, existing images were destroyed, and artists from the Byzantine Empire fled to Western Europe to find work, thereby effecting artistic inter-change between East and West.

In Western Europe, the collapse of the Roman Empire resulted in a transfer of political power to initially peripatetic, illiterate and pagan, and subsequently, more settled, literate and Christian peoples. A patchwork of kingdoms was established by, among others, the Visigoths in Spain, the Ostrogoths and Lombards in Italy, and the Anglo-Saxons in England; and in 800, Charlemagne, the Frankish king, unified his possessions in present-day France, Germany, and northern Italy in an attempt to recreate the empire of the Romans. Buildings and artefacts produced in these regions, from the 6th to the late 8th centuries, demonstrate distinctive regional styles, complex intellectual agendas, and considerable skill on the part of craftsmen.

20 SEPTEMBER

THE BIRTH OF CHRISTIAN ART

11.00         Art before the Edict of Milan Steve Kershaw

12.15         Constantine and Constantinople Steve Kershaw

14.30         Case Study: The Arch of Constantine Steve Kershaw

 

27 SEPTEMBER.

FROM PAGAN TO CHRISTIAN

10.00          Cert. Sem. 1. Object Reports (Sally Dormer)

11.00         The Classical Background: From Plato to Augustine Gordon Mursell

12.15          Early Medieval Thought Gordon Mursell

14.30         The Early Medieval World View Gordon Mursell

 

4 OCTOBER

EARLY CHRISTIAN LUXURY GOODS

10.00         Gallery Talk: Coptic Textiles – Helen Persson

11.00         The Historical Background to 800 Sally Dormer

12.15         Sarcophagi Cathy Oakes

14.30          Ivories Sally Dormer

 

11 OCTOBER

EARLY CHRISTIAN ARCHITECTURE

10.00          Cert. Sem. 2. Museology (Sally Dormer)

11.00          Early Christian Architecture in the 4th and 5th centuries John McNeill

12.15          Case Study: Santa Sabina John McNeill

14.30         Goldsmiths’ Work Sally Dormer

 

18 OCTOBER

THE BIRTH OF THE BOOK

10.00   Gallery Talk: Late Antique and Early Christian Diptychs – Cecily Hennessy

11.00         From Roll to Codex Sally Dormer

12.15          Secular Manuscripts Sally Dormer 

14.30         Early Christian Gospel Books Sally Dormer

 

25 OCTOBER.

MOSAICS 4TH – 10TH CENTURIES

10.00         Cert. Sem. 3 Methodology (Cathy Oakes)

11.00         Floor Mosaics Cathy Oakes

12.15         Wall and Vault Mosaics Cathy Oakes

14.30         Female Patrons and Patronage Eileen Rubery

 

1 NOVEMBER THE DEVELOPMENT OF ICONOGRAPHY

11.00        Images of the Virgin 313-800 Cathy Oakes

12.15          Icons before Iconoclasm Cathy Oakes

14.30         The Ostrogoths and Ravenna Sally Dormer

 

8 NOVEMBER.

RAVENNA AND ROME

10.00         Cert. Sem 4. Islamic Influence (Mariam Rosser-Owen)

11.00         Case Study: San Vitale Sally Dormer

12.15         The Ivory Throne of Maximian Sally Dormer

14.30         Art in 6th –8th century Italy Eileen Rubery

 

15 NOVEMBER

JUSTINIAN

11.00   Justinian and Constantinople Cecily Hennessy

12.15   Case Study: Hagia Sophia Cecily Hennessy

14.30   Case Study: St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai Cathy Oakes

 

22 NOVEMBER.

ART AT THE PERIPHERIES

10.00    Cert. Sem 5 Essay writing (Sally Dormer)

11.00   Migration Period Jewellery Janina Ramirez

12.15    Case Study: Sutton Hoo Janina Ramirez

14.30    The Art of the Celtic Church Janina Ramirez

 

29 NOVEMBER.

THE NORTHUMBRIAN RENAISSANCE

10.00         Cert. Sem 6 Birds and Beasts (Nina Ramirez)

11.00         Early Anglo-Saxon Architecture Janina Ramirez

12.15          Insular Manuscripts Janina Ramirez

14.30         Case Study: The Franks Casket Janina Ramirez

 

 6 DECEMBER

EARLY ANGLO-SAXON ART

10.00   Gallery Talk: Early Anglo-Saxon Art Janina Ramirez

11.00   Mercian Manuscripts Janina Ramirez

12.15  Anglo-Saxon Stone Crosses Janina Ramirez

14.30   Visigothic Spain Rose Walker

 

BL Visit Monday 18 November (Sally Dormer and Janina Ramirez)

SPRING TERM: 800-1050

In 800, Charlemagne, King of the Franks, was appointed Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III. Charlemagne, and the dynasty of Carolingian emperors that followed him, sought actively to revive the world of Christian Antiquity, instigating what has been termed a renaissance. The Saxon Ottonian Emperors who assumed the imperial title in the 960s continued to revere the Antique past, as well as seeking to emulate the aesthetics of the Byzantine Empire for political ends. The commission of many Carolingian and Ottonian churches, books, metal work and ivory carvings was linked to imperial patronage, frequently through the intermediary of monastic foundations, which flourished under influential abbots, and became the main centers of learning and craftsmanship during this period. In Anglo-Saxon England, where the visual arts flourished from the late 10th to mid 11th centuries, much influenced by developments on the Continent, monasteries such those at Winchester and Canterbury, played an even greater role in the realm of craftsmanship. By the late 10th century the ripple effect of Iconoclasm began to wane in Western Europe, and it became acceptable, once more, to produce monumental, three-dimensional sculpture.

The year 1000 was greeted with anxiety, and its passing with a general air of relief. The confident mood of the new millennium saw the emergence of a united and centralized church in the West, which became the most powerful organization of the high Middle Ages, dominated by the monastic orders; both the well-established and newly founded, such as the Cistercians. As a result, unprecedented investment was placed in church buildings, many of them inspired by aspects of surviving Roman monuments. Lectures will consider the emergence of the mighty Romanesque style. Case studies on monuments such as St Philibert, Tournus and Durham Cathedral, will highlight the many regional stylistic variations.

 10 JANUARY 

THE CAROLINGIANS

11.00         The Historical Background 800-1050 Sally Dormer

12.15          Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance John McNeill

14.30         Carolingian Architecture John McNeill

 

17 JANUARY.

CAROLINGIAN BOOK PRODUCTION

10.00         Cert. Sem. 7 Early Medieval Textiles (Helen Persson)

11.00         Carolingian Manuscript Illumination Sally Dormer

12.15          Case Study: The Utrecht Psalter Sally Dormer

14.30         Islamic Art and its influence in the West Mariam Rosser-Owen

 

24 JANUARY

THE CAROLNGIAN EMPIRE AND THE EAST

11.00     Carolingian Metalwork Sally Dormer

12.15      The Crucifixion in Carolingian Art Cathy Oakes

14.30     Iconoclasm and 9th-century Rome Eileen Rubery

 

 31 JANUARY

OTTONIAN MANUSCRIPT ILLUMINATION

10.00         Cert. Sem 8 Celebrating the Mass (Glyn Davis)

11.00         Art under Otto I Henry Mayr-Harting

12.15         Otto III: Art and Power Henry Mayr-Harting

14.30         The Service Books of Emperor Henry II Henry Mayr-Harting

 

7 FEBRUARY

OTTONIAN CHURCH ART

10.00      Gallery Talk: Carolingian and Ottonian Ivories Sally Dormer

11.00        Ottonian Church Architecture Richard Plant

12.15        The Art of Bernward of Hildesheim Henry Mayr-Harting

14.30        Aesthetic Ideals in Ottonian Art Henry Mayr-Harting

 

14 FEBRUARY

BYZANTIUM 9TH-11TH CENTURY

10.00         Cert. Sem. 9 Image Quiz (Sally Dormer)

11.00         Byzantine Art 843-1050 Cecily Hennessy

12.15          Case Study: Hosios Loukas Cecily Hennessy

14.30         The Iconography of Imperial Power Cecily Hennessy

 

21 FEBRUARY

INVADERS AND THE IMPACT OF INVASION

11.00         The Vikings Janina Ramirez

12.15          King Alfred and Anglo-Saxon Art c. 900 Janina Ramirez

14.30         Early Medieval Textiles Janina Ramirez

 

28 FEBRUARY

LATE ANGLO-SAXON ART AND ARCHITECTURE

10.00   Gallery Talk: Byzantine Art Cecily Hennessy

11.00       The Monastic Reform Movement and The “Winchester School” Cathy Oakes

12.15         The rise of the Vernacular Janina Ramirez

14.30          Late Anglo-Saxon Sculpture: Stone and Ivory Janina Ramirez

 

7 MARCH

LATE ANGLO-SAXON MANUSCRIPTS 

10.00         Cert. Sem, 10 Cast Court (Sally Dormer)

11.00         Case Study: The Benedictional of St Ethelwold Sally Dormer

12.15         Drawing: Technique and Purpose in Anglo-Saxon Art Sally Dormer

14.30         Anglo-Saxon Architecture Richard Plant

 

14 MARCH

THE EMERGENCE OF ROMANESQUE ARCHITECTURE

10.00          Gallery Talk: Relics and Reliquaries Cathy Oakes

11.00          First Romanesque Architecture John McNeill

12.15         Case Study: St Philibert, Tournus John McNeill

14.30         Mozarabic Art and Beatus of Liebana Rose Walker

 

21 MARCH

ROMANESQUE CONTEXTS: HISTORICA L AND PHILOSOPHICAL

10.00         Cert. Sem. 11 Marian Devotion (Cathy Oakes)

11.00         Historical background: Europe 1050-1200 Cathy Oakes

12.15          Pilgrimage and the Cult of Relics Cathy Oakes

14.30         The new monastic orders Gordon Mursell

 

28 MARCH 

BURGUNDY AND AQUITAINE

10.00         Cert. Sem. 12 MSS in the V&A (Sally Dormer)

11.00         Burgundian Architecture and Sculpture Cathy Oakes

12.15          Case Study: Gislebertus and Autun Cathy Oakes

14.30         Poitevin Architecture and Sculpture Cathy Oakes

 

BM Visit Monday 24 March (Cathy Oakes and Janina Ramirez)

SUMMER TERM: 1050 – 1250

 The first half of the third term continues an exploration of Romanesque art in all its varied manifestations: from the hieratic wall paintings of Catalonia to the gilded enamels of the Meuse and Rhine valleys; from the glittering mosaics of Norman Sicily to the elaborately illuminated manuscripts of 12th-century England.

 In the mid twelfth century the mood of Western Europe changed, with the emergence of what was dubbed the “New” style of architecture in Paris, termed “Gothic” from the 17th century. Craftsmen increasingly strove to de materialize the massiness of the Romanesque and construct buildings that reached new heights and allowed more light to pervade their interior spaces. This is the period when experimental Gothic buildings were constructed in the Ile de France, followed by the mature High Gothic cathedrals of Chartres and Bourges. Paris was very much the epicenter of new developments, which were then eagerly adopted, often with native embellishments, by neighbouring realms.

The approach to figurative art also underwent a profound change, moving from the highly designed dynamism of the Romanesque, to something more natural, gracious and even classical. This revolution in taste is explained by seismic shifts in the philosophy that dominated theological circles, as well as the growth in importance of towns and commerce, increasing literacy of the upper echelons of society, and the declining importance of monasticism. From the 1220s, the devotional practices introduced by the newly founded mendicant orders also played an important role.

Relations between the East and West deteriorated during the late 12th century, as the Crusading movement increased in sometimes misplaced zeal. The Sack of Constantinople by the armies of the Fourth Crusade in 1204 spelled the beginning of the end for the Byzantine Empire, it was ruled by a series of Latin Emperors until 1261, but led to a fresh and exciting influx of Byzantine influence, especially in Italy.

 25 APRIL

ROMANESQUE ENGLAND

11.00         English Romanesque Architecture Richard Plant

12.15          Case Study: Durham Cathedral Richard Plant

14.30         Case Study: The Cloisters Cross Cathy Oakes

 

2 MAY

THE ROAD TO SANTIAGO DA COMPOSTELLA

10.00         Cert. Sem. 13 Dinanderie (Cathy Oakes)

11.00         From Le Puy to the Pyrenees Jethro Lyne

12.15          Case Study: The Toulouse School Cathy Oakes

14.30         The Camina Franca Jethro Lyne

 

9 MAY

PATRONS AND PATTERNS OF DEVOTION 

10.00         Cert. Sem. 14 Typology (Cathy Oakes)      

11.00         Romanesque Catalonia Rose Walker

12.15          Romanesque Images of the Virgin Cathy Oakes

14.30         Secular Patrons and Secular Art Cathy Oakes

 

16 MAY  

ROMANESQUE WALLS AND FLOORS

10.00   Gallery Talk: Ivories 1050-1250 Sally Dormer

11.00         Mosaic Floors   Cathy Oakes

12.15          Case Study: Bayeux Tapestry Richard Plant

14.30         Wall-paintings   David Park

 

23 MAY.

THE ART OF THE ROMANESQUE BOOK

10.00         Cert. Sem. 15 Staurotheke (Sally Dormer)

11.00         English Monastic Libraries Sally Dormer

12.15          The English Romanesque Psalter Sally Dormer

14.30         Late Byzantine Art 1050-1250 Cecily Hennessy

 

30 MAY

SICILIAN KINGS AND AN ENGLISH BISHOP

10.00         Cert. Sem 16 Crosiers (Sally Dormer)

11.00         Henry of Blois as Patron Sally Dormer

12.15          Making mosaics in Norman Sicily Eileen Rubery

14.30         Sicily and the wider world Eileen Rubery

 

6 JUNE

ROMANESQUE ART AND ARCHITECTURE IN ITALY         

11.00        The North Jethro Lyne

12.15          The Centre Jethro Lyne

14.30         The South Jethro Lyne 

 

13 JUNE

THE ROMANESQUE METALWORKER

10.00         Gallery Talk: Romanesque Metalwork Cathy Oakes

11.00         Mosan and Rhenish Metalwork Sally Dormer

12.15          Limoges enamels Sally Dormer

14.30         Case Study: Nicholas of Verdun and the Klosterneuberg Ambo Cathy Oakes

 

20 JUNE

GERMAN ROMANESQUE

10.00        Cert. Sem. 17 Capitals (Cathy Oakes)

11.00        Rhenish Architecture Richard Plant

12.15          The Patronage of Henry the Lion Cathy Oakes

14.30         Bronze Doors Richard Plant

 

27 JUNE

THE ‘NEW STYLE’ OF ARCHITECTURE

10.00   Gallery Talk:12th and 13th century Stained Glass Anna Eavis

11.00         Abbot Suger and Saint Denis Richard Plant

12.15          Stained Glass Anna Eavis

14.30         High Gothic Architecture: Chartres and Bourges Cathedrals Richard Plant

 

 4 JULY

THE RISE OF GOTHIC IN ENGLAND

10.00          Cert. Sem. 18 Image Quiz (Sally Dormer)

11.00         Canterbury and Becket  Richard Plant

12.15          Early English Architecture Richard Plant

14.30          Crusader Castles Sally Dixon Smith

 

11 JULY 

THE CRUSADES

11.00         Heretics and Infidels: the theory of Crusade Gordon Mursell

12.15         The 4th Crusade Sally Dormer

14.30         Early Gothic Manuscripts Sally Dormer

 

Tower and Temple Church Visit Monday 30 June (Cathy Oakes, Sally Dormer and Sally Dixon-Smith)