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Medieval Art

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Medieval Art

In the Middle Ages (10th–15th centuries), Romanesque, (or Norman) medieval art (10th–12th centuries) and Gothic art (late 12th–15th centuries) were the main styles found in English art.

Romanesque, or Norman, art The art of the 10th–12th centuries is chiefly evident in church architecture and church sculpture, on capitals and portals, and in manuscript illumination. Romanesque art was typified by the rounded arch, and combined naturalistic elements with the fantastic, poetical, and pattern-loving Celtic and Germanic traditions. Imaginary beasts and medieval warriors mingle with biblical themes. The 10th-century schools of Winchester and Canterbury produced illuminated manuscripts such as the Benedictional of St Ethelwold (about 960–80; British Museum, London).

Gothic art The art of the late 12th–15th centuries developed as large cathedrals were built all over Europe, and what little sculpture has survived the destructions of the Reformation – and, later, the Civil War of the 17th century – is heavily indebted to French works. Sculptural decoration in stone became more monumental, and stained glass filled the tall windows. Figures were also carved in wood. Court patronage produced exquisite small ivories, goldsmiths' work, devotional books illustrated with miniatures, and tapestries depicting romantic tales. Popular themes included the dance of death (a representation of death leading people to the grave), particularly following the Black Death epidemic in the mid-14th century.

Examples of painting and illustration include the Luttrell Psalter (about 1340; British Museum), notable for its depictions of English life and labour; and the 14th-century Queen Mary's Psalter (British Museum), with illustrations of biblical history and representations of medieval life and work. One of the few named figures of the period was the 13th-century illuminator and chronicler, Matthew Paris. The late 14th-century Wilton Diptych (National Gallery, London), showing Richard II presented to the Virgin and Child, is a rare example of medieval English panel painting.

From CREDO Medieval English Art: Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide.

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