Beat Brenk

Medieval Image-Concepts and the Meaning of Visual Programs

Cloth bound

Publication: to be announced

24 x 17 cm
560 pp. 272 illus.



Book Description

This is the second volume of Professor Brenk’s studies on late-Antique and medieval art; the first volume, on The Christianization of the Late Roman World, is featured earlier.

This volume presents a selection of 25 studies which are grouped into a number of topics that clarify Professor Brenk’s approach. The art of the Middle Ages is treated not as a succession of styles, but is analyzed as an unstable value system, which seeks to prove its own legitimacy by claims and ideologies. Although works of art are not legal documents, they evoke frequently a religious or political self-conception. The author tries to show how the medieval artist brought into the world new creations under constant pressure, which he expresses with the resort to established models. In successive chapters the rhetoric of the demands made by Popes, bishops, abbotts, priests, monks, kings, dukes, counts, aristocrats, buyers and municipalities is examined.

What rhetorical models were at the disposal of the medieval artist, if he was concerned to articulate the needs and requirements of his clients? The analysis of the Carolingian, Norman-Sicilian and Capetian picture programs shows that not only the program, but also the artistic form and style, was used conceptually, i.e. style proves a freely selectable rhetorical form.

As in the earlier volume, a considerable number of studies previously published in German and Italian are presented here in English translation.


  • Preface
  • Antiquity on Demand: The Arts of the Mediterranean during the 7th and 8th centuries and No End of Antiquity
  • Understanding of Antiquity and Legal Thinking in the Sculptural Program of Frederick II at Capua
  • Innovation: Originality and Innovation in Medieval Art
  • Papal Ideology in the Early Middle Ages: Papal Patronage in a Greek Church in Rome
  • On the Pictorial Program of the Zeno Chapel in Rome
  • Carolingian Pretentions: Authentication –Requirement–Innovation. On the Imperial Art of the Carolingians
  • Written and Pictorial Art in the Court School of Charlemagne
  • Montecassino: Rome and Montecassino: The Frescoes of the Lower Church of S. Crisogono
  • The Historical Significance of the Lectionary of Desiderius Vat. Lat. 1202
  • Episcopal and Monastic ‘committenza’ in South Italy from the Example of the Exultet Rolls
  • Art and Ideology in Norman Sicily: The Symbology of Power
  • The Design Concept in the Royal Buildings of the Norman Period in Sicily. The Architecture and Mosaics of Monreale
  • The West Wall of the Cappella Palatina
  • On the Meaning of the Mosaic on the West Wall of the Cappella Palatina in Palermo
  • On the Program of the Capitals in the Cloister of Monreale
  • Capetian Pretentions: The Pictorial Program and the Historical Understanding of the Capetians at Chartres Cathedral
  • The Concepteur and his Addressee, or: On Veiling the Message
  • The Sainte Chapelle as a Political Program
  • Doors as Spolia: Nova construere, sed amplius vetusta servare; Patronage: The Commissioner of Ariberto
  • Commissioning: the Problems
  • Text, Sense, Rhetoric and Requirement in Simone Martini
  • Liturgy, Cult and Art: Who sits on the Loft?
  • Pilgrimage Churches and the Concept of Pretension
  • Medieval Saints’ Lives and the Liturgical Context: Sense, Rhetoric and Requirement
  • Additional Notes
  • Index

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