Word and Image: An Introduction to Early Medieval Art

By William J. Diebold | Go to book overview

5
Inscriptions and Images

Artist and Patron in the Early Middle Ages

Not one artist appears by his proper name in the preceding pages. And on only one occasion did I identify an artist with his modern, made-up name (the Master of the Registrum Gregorii). This suppression of artists' names, both given and invented, is partly my preference; more could have been used. For example, [42] and [43] were painted by someone named Liuthard. But we know so little about this Liuthard that it seemed unimportant to mention his name, for it tells us next to nothing. Even less informative, of course, are the modern sobriquets made up by art historians to fill the gaps in the historical record. These, typically, are banal ([34], [36]-[38], and [62], among the greatest glories of medieval painting, are ascribed to "Master C of the Vivian Bible"), telling us more about modern art historians than about early medieval artists.

Our lack of knowledge about individual early medieval artists stems only in small part from the tremendous loss of historical information from the period. That loss is real, but it is far from total. After all, although this book lacks the names of artists, it is filled with the given names of patrons: Charlemagne, Benedict Biscop, Charles the Bald, Alfred the Great, Otto III, Hitda, Gero, and others have all figured prominently. It is true that information about these people was more

-127-

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Word and Image: An Introduction to Early Medieval Art
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction - The Character of Early Medieval Art 1
  • 1 - Books for the Illiterate? Art in an Oral Culture 9
  • 2 - Art in the Service of the Word 45
  • 3 - Books for the Illiterate? 71
  • 4 - The Crisis of Word and Image 99
  • 5 - Inscriptions and Images: 127
  • Conclusion - "Brother, What Do You Think of This Idol?" 139
  • Notes 149
  • Further Reading in English 153
  • Index 157
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