A History of English Art in the Middle Ages

By O. Elfrida Saunders | Go to book overview
Save to active project


THE number of subjects, biblical or theological, which had been represented in English art before the Conquest was not very considerable, if we may judge from extant examples. To the Evangelist pictures and Crucifixions of Celtic manuscripts early Anglo-Saxon art had added some Last Judgement drawings and one or two dedication pictures. Figures of David and scenes from his life had appeared in psalters, and a few manuscripts had already contained full-page pictures of Christ enthroned in majesty, attended by angels and surrounded by the four beasts, symbols of the evangelists. The Benedictional of St. Ethelwold, alone among Anglo-Saxon manuscripts, had contained a short series of New Testament scenes and others from the lives of saints.

In the Romanesque period the range of subjects was greatly enlarged; certain theological and symbolical themes, and certain cycles of Biblical scenes became general. The choice of subjects illustrates in a striking manner the doctrinal trend of religious thought at this time.

Christ in Majesty, seated on a rainbow as a symbol of His power, and surrounded by a mandorla as a symbol of His holiness, formed an element in the scheme of decoration of every church and almost every manuscript. Supported by angels and raising His hand in blessing, He dominates the painting of an apse, as in St. Gabriel's Chapel at Canterbury, or the sculpture of a tympanum, as on the Prior's Doorway at Ely (fig.25). In manuscripts he is usually surrounded only by the evangelist symbols; on the walls of churches the twelve apostles sometimes accompany him as celestial courtiers. At Kempley (Glos.) there is a suggestion of the Apocalyptic


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A History of English Art in the Middle Ages


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 274

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?