Dragons: A Symbol of Evil in European Synagogue Decoration?

medieval Jewish dragon

At first glance, images of evil would seem to be an unexpected element in synagogue art. Only during a relatively short period in eighteenth-century eastern-European synagogues were paintings of predatory beasts and birds catching their prey depicted to convey the idea of the People of Israel pursued by enemies.

Beautiful Images from the Nuremberg Chronicle

Beautiful images Nuremberg chronicle

Created in 1493, the Nuremberg Chronicle is a history of the World going back to Biblical times. Written by Hartmann Schedel, it was printed in Latin and German editions with hundreds of copies being sold. The 1801 woodcut illustrations were done by Michael Wolgemut and Wilhelm Pleydenwurff. Here are some of favourite images!

From Tempests and Hydraulic Machines to the Arno Diversion: the Historical Significance of da Vinci’s Study of Water

da vinci water

Reemergence of classical thought and the importance of water in society led da Vinci to pursue multiple projects regarding his study of water – culminating in the project to divert the Arno River.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Study of Light and Optics: A Synthesis of Fields in The Last Supper

Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci’s preoccupation with the natural world led him to the fields of optics and astronomy.

Can You Name These Famous People From The Middle Ages?

Famous People From The Middle Ages

Here are 20 famous medieval rulers, saints, men and women depicted in medieval art. Can you guess who they are based on the picture?

Can You Name These Famous Figures From History?

Joan of Arc

Some of the great images of art depict famous figures from history – can you guess who they are showing?

The Trouble with ‘Female Sexuality’

medieval woman and unicorn

Using medieval western art to speak of female sexuality is difficult.

The Lost Shoe: A Symbol in Medieval Scandinavian Ballads and Church Paintings

The Clog Man Photo: Tommy Olofsson

Tommy Olofsson examines the Clog Man, a medieval wall painting in a Swedish church – what was it really about?

Shaping a Saint’s Identity: The Imagery of Thomas Becket in Medieval Italy

Venetian workshop, Martyrdom and Elevatio animae of Thomas Becket, third quarter of the 13th century, wall-painting. Treviso, Diocesan Museum

This article sets out to trace the visual responses to the sainthood of Thomas of Canterbury outside of his original cultural context, namely in Italy, where his cult was readily received, integrated and modified.

A Christmas Crib as a Meek Heart of the Late Mediaeval Christian

Late Gothic Christmas crib

In the summer of 2013 the Rijksmuseum acquired a rare Late Gothic Christmas Crib (c. 1510-20). In the 15th century tangible aids – devotionalia – were promoted to support meditation, to accomplish as it were a link between God and the soul of the believer.

2015 Medieval Art Calendar for Sale

stefan sayer medieval calendar 2015

Stefan Sauer is selling a calendar based on initials on Codex Gottwicensis 235, a 15th-century illustrated manuscript created by an anonymous monk from Stift Göttweig, Austria.

The Louvre: Highlights for Medievalists

St Denis holding his head - an oil on panel painting - photo by Danielle Trynoski

Despite offering exemplary samples of almost every type of art, the Louvre showcases some great examples of medieval art. The Richelieu Wing is where it’s at!

How Witches Looked in Medieval Art

Hans Baldung - The Witches Sabbath (1510 AD)

I recently visited the British Museum and enjoyed their Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibit which runs until January 11th, 2015. It displays art depicting witches from the middle ages up to the late nineteenth century. This post looks at a few late medieval interpretations of witches and the artists behind these works.

Chasing Butterflies in Medieval Europe

medieval butterfly - from Royal 10 E IV  British Library

A survey of illuminated medieval manuscripts from Europe reveals depictions of several different methods used in the Middle Ages for catching butterflies.

The last wonderful thing: the icon of the Heavenly Ladder on Mount Sinai

The Ladder of Divine Ascent 12th c.

Description and dating of the icon of the Heavenly Ladder Jacob ‘dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached toheaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

Constructing social identity in Renaissance Florence: Botticelli’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’

Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Brandini (1471) by Botticelli

This study scrutinizes a work within a neglected portion of Botticelli’s oeuvre, examining the ways in which its modest, and somewhat ambiguous, visual cues also construct its sitter’s elevated social identity, while simultaneously protecting it.

Places to See: Sainte Chapelle

Sainte Chappelle, Paris.

Travelling to Paris ? Add this beautiful thirteenth century Capetian chapel to your MUST-SEE list for your next visit!

The Audiences for the Medieval Cult of Saints

olden statue reliquary of St. Foy, from the treasury of Conques.

In the Middle Ages the cult of saints was quintessentially a public phenomenon. Its arena was not a private sphere of spirituality but a public orchestration of ceremony.

Memento Mori: Medieval Images of Death

medieval images of death

In honour of All Hallows’ Eve, let’s take five minutes to look at how death was expressed in art in the late Middle Ages.

Classical trends in Byzantine and Western Art in the 13th and 14th centuries

Annunciation Mileševa Monastery

During the last two centuries before the Renaissance of the arts in Italy in the 15th century, different waves of classical trends marked the artistic creation of both Byzantine and western worlds.

The Origins of the Shroud of Turin

Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630), View of the Piazza del Castello, Turin, during the ostension of the Holy Shroud, 1613

Charles Freeman, surprised by the lack of research into one of the great unsolved mysteries, reveals for the first time his groundbreaking examination into the creation of the venerated object.

Of dead kings, dukes and constables: the historical context of the Danse Macabre in late medieval Paris

The archbishop and the knight, woodcut in Guy Marchant’s Danse macabre edition first printed in Paris in 1485

Why did the danse macabre rise to fame only when incorporated in a mural scheme that was created in a period of major political upheaval?

The drawings that Michelangelo did not want you to see

Studies for the head of Leda c.1530 - Casa Buonarroti / AGO

There are about 600 drawings by the Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo that have survived to the present day – many of them stunningly beautiful – but he would probably have been ‘absolutely horrified’ that the general public can now see them.

The Relationship of Light and Colour in Medieval Thought and Imagination

Harley 2278 f. 72v Rainbow

The primary point of access for medieval thought concerning visual experience was theology; an overarching set of beliefs concerning the divine significance of light (lux) in accordance with the creation of the world at God’s utterance presented in the first chapter of Genesis.

Byzantine art exhibition now open in Chicago

Heaven and Earth at the Art Institute of Chicago

A new exhibition, Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, opened last month at the Art Institute of Chicago, and showcases more than 60 superb artworks of the Byzantine era, from the 4th to the 15th centuries.

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