Das Pariser Perikopenbuch Und Die Anfänge der Romanischen Buchmalerei an Rhein Und Weser

By Gameson, Richard | Medium Aevum, January 1, 2009 | Go to article overview

Das Pariser Perikopenbuch Und Die Anfänge der Romanischen Buchmalerei an Rhein Und Weser


Gameson, Richard, Medium Aevum


Andrea Worm, Das Pariser Perikopenbuch und die Anfänge der romanischen Buchmalerei an Rhein und Weser (Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 2008). 272 pp.; 31 colour plates and 164 black-and-white illustrations. ISBN 9783-871 57-220-3. euro89.00.

The Gospel lectionary that is the subject of this monograph is handsomely decorated with a cycle of nineteen full-page miniatures which, though 'Romanesque' in style, embody strong echoes of earlier Ottonian and Saltan illumination. As the book has readings exclusively for major feasts (no minor or 'local' ones), is written in a fine, elongated, but rather nondescript late Caroline minuscule, bears no internal evidence for origin or date, and has no recorded provenance prior to the eighteenth century (when it was in private hands), it is something of an enigma. Not surprisingly scholarly opinion has varied concerning both its date (with estimates ranging from the late eleventh century to the middle of the twelfth) and its origin (the Rhineland - specifically Cologne or Prüm - Westfalia, or lower Saxony). And whichever of these propositions should be correct, since de luxe liturgical books are rare in German contexts during the first half of the twelfth century, it remains an isolated masterpiece. As such the manuscript has featured in several major exhibitions, 'flying the flag' for different regions: in Kunst und Kultur im Weserraum (1966) and Die Zeit der Staufer (1977) it was ascribed to Rhineland/Westfalia, in Rhein und Maas (1972) to Cologne, and in Canossa iojj (2006) to Lower Saxony/Westfalia.

The present monograph, the most thorough investigation of the manuscript to date, focuses in particular on the iconography of its miniatures, highlighting their debts to Italo-Byzantine models on the one hand and to eleventh-century Echternach ones on the other. Significant parallels, reasonably interpreted as echoes of common sources, are found in other manuscripts from Lower Saxony, above all a Gospel book now in Gniezno that was made in Helmarshausen in the mid-twelfth century (a comparison first noted by Arthur Haseloff a century ago). Comparanda for the initials, by contrast, appear in work from the Middle Rhine, where too can be found antecedents for the figurai style. These conflicting indications (which lie behind the divergent attributions of previous scholarship) are reconciled by the hypothesis of a painter trained in the Rhineland who was subsequently summoned to Saxony (thus refining the theory of Carl Nordenfalk, published twenty years ago, that the decoration was the work of a professional artist employed at Prüm). Analysis of the style also highlights a relationship to Italian work of the later eleventh century, idioms that started to infiltrate Germany (above all the Middle Rhine) from the beginning of the twelfth: the manuscript is consequendy dated to the 1 120s or 1 130s. …

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