Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Summary of Lecture Thirteen

At the outset we returned to the Reims School of illumination, with two undoubted masterworks, the Ebbo Gospels and the Utrecht Psalter.

Together with much other useful work, writing and illumination was performed mainly within the confines of the monasteries. Charlemagne and his counselors understood that a more rigorous application of the Rule of St. Benedict was needed to counteract the laxness and corruption that had set in.

One product of this reform effort was the remarkable St. Gall plan. After many years of study, Walter Horn of Berkeley was able to interpret the detailed instructions on the plan to realize a three-dimensional version. (An ideal prescription, the plan was never realized as such in Carolingian times.) Combining the holy office with productive, educational, and hospitality functions, the monastery was designed to be as self-sufficient as possible.

In s larger sense the plan belongs to the overarching history of utopian thinking inaugurated by Plato and continuing into our own day with intentional communities.

The final hour dealt briefly with the Ottonian period. Two creations of Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim were considered: the church of St. Michael and the bronze doors. The latter, a remarkable technical achievement, represent a new application of the earlier belief that the Old and New Testaments were organically linked.

Ultimately, the most influential creation of the Ottonian era was the revival of monumental sculpture, as seen in the Essen Madonna and the Gero Crucifix in Cologne.