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I hadn’t thought that stained glass was just another art form developed during this time period! But of course, that is certainly true. I agree that, practically speaking, larger windows allowed more light, but also that the stained effect must have definitely given those within a heavenly and uplifted feeling.
I like how you talked about Abbot Suger’s research on philosophy and his findings on the connection between light and divinity. The comparison is also drawn many times in the Bible as well. I also believe stained glass does give one a heavenly feeling. Splendor and majesty would be few and far between in the lives of the poor, but the church was a place where the rich and poor alike could come and marvel. I think this was no mere accident. I think the intention was to already instill awe in the onlookers so that when the message of God was preached one would already feel close to heaven.
I like the imagery you use describing the cathedrals and how you stated everyone essentially had the same experience. If everyone should be on the same level anywhere, in should be in a church. Of course, some people *cough cough rich snobby people cough cough* would probably have a problem with mingling with such inferior beings and of course the only solution would be to throw massive amounts of money into building one’s own private place of worship. Even though that’s pretty much exactly the kind of thing God says he hates in the Bible.
I agree that the cast system was very harsh and unforgiving. The class and social status you were born with was rigid and most often the one you died with as well. During this time period being able to afford food was difficult, much less extravagant art and religious texts that are only good for those with an education. Religion did seem to be a sign of social status during this time period. Sad that it seems with each new step forward in history, those who are already on top seem to be the ones who are benefitting.
As the name suggests, the Age of Cathedrals was one of splendor and magnificence. While religious extravagance was in part out of reverence and worship, I am certain there was an amount of pomp and circumstance as well. The wealthy upper class flaunted their wealth by commissioning expensive and intricate works of art, such as RÃ–TTGEN PIETÃ€ OR JEAN PUCELLE’S THE HOURS OF JEANNE D’Ã‰VREUX. Moralized Bibles were also very expensive, so only wealthy families could afford them. I think to a certain extent religion became a symbol of social status; the wealthier you were, the more you could afford to spend on religious art, texts, and worship.
Personally, I’ve always found stained glass extraordinarily beautiful. All the colors tend to remind me of rainbows, which actually have great religious meaning in the Christian faith. Many Gothic churches were built between the 12th and 15th centuries, giving the time period the name Age of Cathedrals. As architecture became more structurally sound, larger windows became possible. Stained glass took advantage of the larger amount of light. I think the light streaming in from all sides probably had a very ethereal and divine effect on attendees, transporting them to a more heavenly-minded state. Not only beautiful, stained glass would also, more practically, give more reading light to cathedrals built centuries before electricity.
I hadn’t heard that it was believed pilgrimages had healings power. It makes it easier to understand why so many people would travel such great distances on foot, and how much harder would it be for those who were infirm. I certainly hope that those who made the long journey received what they sought at the end!
I love the point that shunned individuals could demonstrate their devotion to God through pilgrimages if they were not normally allowed to participate in the usually religious services. The was definitely a time of “Christian and Gentile’ where ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic upbringing were judged on the harshest of levels. Those deemed “undesirable’ may have been excluded from regular religious ceremony in their society.
During the 11th and 12th centuries, pilgrimages were of the utmost importance. Making the long journey to these holy sites were a means to get closer to God on Earth, which in turn were hopefully a means to remain closer to God in the next life as well.
The layout of churches changed to accommodate the many pilgrims who made their way to sacred places. The cruciform plan takes the symbolic form of the cross but also created an organized flow of pilgrims so the crowds would not become chaotic. Pilgrims would enter the western portal and move through the church to the apse on the eastern end (these sometimes contained radiating chapels that housed shrines to the saints). After, pilgrims could go through the ambulatory and out the transept or crossing. Although it is debated whether its design was actually effective, pilgrimages literally changed the design of churches in the Romanesque period.
This is a great point! I just commented on someone else’s response about how different the separate class’s lives were. Sometimes the upper class saw the lower class as little more than vermin. The church’s message, that regardless of class you can be saved, put the classes on the same playing field, spiritually. The depiction of the Last Testament is indeed would have been a strong message that one’s lot on this earth has no bearing on one’s lot in the afterlife then, as probably still to this day.
I really like the way you phrased this: “the illiterate would have visual representations of biblical narratives and the wealthy would still appreciate the beauty of the architecture.’ During this time period the upper class looked at the lower class as almost ‘less than human’ so it may not have even occurred to them, or at least bothered them that church would be a very different experience for those who couldn’t read or understand the spoken Latin language. To the upper class, all they might’ve seen when looking at the beautiful religious scenes was splendor they were already somewhat accustomed to, whereas not only did the lower class have the benefit of seeing the stories they were unable to read, but also have a taste of the majestic art they could not afford to own themselves.
During the 11th and 12th centuries, secular and religious authority really combined, and rulers used buildings embellished with religious depictions to further their reputations and commemorate their reign. Understandably, in this time of poverty, being literate was a symbol of the upper class. The huge depictions of religious scenes were probably very useful during prayer, reflection, and religious ceremony; much the way power point is useful during an academic presentation. Those unable to read along during a service would have a reference point, or even a reminder of aspects of the religion that would otherwise be kept fresh through repeated reading. The beauty and lasting splendor would have been a blessing to all levels of society, a place where the rich and poor alike could marvel as equals.
I agree that the Byzantine influence is far more apparent to me than the Classical one. I like your observation that very few art pieces depict as actual person. I also agree that meaning and ritual is what most the Medieval era art is focused on.
I agree that I didn’t see much Classical period influence as Byzantine. At least it didn’t jump out at me. I like your point that perhaps the purpose of abstract images not really depicting religious scenes but being religious in nature was an attempt to follow the Second Commandment: Do not make idols or graven images
Much of the art created from the Byzantine Empire was more symbolic than realistic, and this can be seen in Medieval era art as well. For example, the Virgin with Child and Saints and Angels Icon is far less realistic than portraits from earlier civilizations, just like the depiction of Saint Matthew on the cover of the Book of Durrow is almost primitive compared to the highly detailed work of the Greeks and those of the Romans. As dominated by religion as the Byzantine Empire, the Medieval era artwork as not only religious in content, but also used in religious ceremony, for instance the illuminated manuscripts being used in religious procession. I’m not sure if I see the influence coming from Classical art as strongly as that of the Byzantine Empire.