Picturing Gregory: The Evolving Imagery of Canon Law

Picturing Gregory: The Evolving Imagery of Canon Law

Susan, L’Engle

Decretales Pictae: Le miniature nei manoscritti delle Decretali di Gregorio IX (Liber Extra) : atti del colloquio internazionale tenuto all’Istituto Storico Germanico, Roma 3-4 marzo 2010Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Roma (2012)


As an art historian specializing in the illustration of medieval manuscripts of canon and Roman law, my approach towards manuscripts has been primarily informed by the graphic and the pictorial, though not completely excluding the textual. Nevertheless, images do not reside in a vacuum, but are copied, adapted, created, and modified within particular social contexts, and for varying social reasons. Political, social, and religious issues may equally shape textual recensions or generate pictorial compositions that evolve over time.

The illustration and ornament in medieval legal texts can inform scholars in multiple disciplines. Certain iconographical themes predominate in specific time periods, only to lose their popularity and be replaced by new ones. The styles and decorative motifs utilized by individual artists can often serve to situate the time and region in which a manuscript was produced. Images not only document changes in theological, devotional, and political thought, but can also be used to help date particular manuscripts when the evidence offered by script and text is inconclusive. In addition, the changing visual commentary can signal how these texts and their interpretation were perceived by or resonated with a medieval audience.

Click here to read Part I of this article from Decretales Pictae

Click here to view the Appendix of this article from Decretales Pictae

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