By Eliza Garrison
Synopsis: Ottonian Imperial Art and Portraiture represents the first art historical consideration of the patronage of the Ottonian Emperors Otto III (983-1002) and Henry II (1002-1024). Author Eliza Garrison analyzes liturgical artworks created for both rulers with the larger goal of addressing the ways in which individual art objects and the collections to which they belonged were perceived as elements of a material historical narrative and as portraits. Since these objects and images had the capacity to stand in for the ruler in his physical absence, she argues, they also performed political functions that were bound to their ritualized use in the liturgy not only during the ruler’s lifetime, but even after his death. Garrison investigates how treasury objects could relay officially sanctioned information in a manner that texts alone could not, offering the first full length exploration of this central phenomenon of the Ottonian era.
Eliza Garrison, an Assistant Professor of Art History at Middlebury College, tells Medievalists.net that “I became interested in Ottonian Art in graduate seminars I took with Michael Camille and Karl Werckmeister. Karl Werckmeister initially suggested that I look into the complicated connections between Otto III and Henry II.”
Professor Garrison has already written several articles about the Ottonians and their artwork, including Otto III at Aachen. In her interview she says “one of the richest objects — from both a material and historical perspective — from this period is certainly the Lothar Cross, which Otto III donated to the Palace Chapel of Aachen in 1000 and is the focus of the second chapter of the book. It speaks to all manner of concerns that are central to this period: historical copying, spolia, political representation. Not least, the person or people who designed it were thinking very closely about the political meanings that were quite literally built into the Palace Chapel as a structure.”