Studies in Pictorial Narrative


24 x 17 cm
580 pp. 264 illus.
Publication: 1994
ISBN 0 907132 77 4
ISBN-13 978 0 907132 77 6


Book Description

Written over the course of a quarter century, the nineteen essays reprinted in this volume reflect a continuing belief in the seriousness and complexity of the relationship between pictures and texts in medieval art. Professor Kessler has grouped his studies in three sections: Pictures and Scripture includes those essays which consider the various ways in which Christian pictorial representations are in continuous and varying dialogue with holy writ in Byzantium and the medieval west. Pictures in Scripture is about illustrated manuscripts, with six essays dealing with the complicated processes used to construct meaning in depictions within the texts they illustrate. Pictures as Scriptures contains nine essays which deal with pictorial cycles unassociated with the texts they serve, primarily monumental narratives in the Synagogue at Dura Europos and on the walls of Italian churches.

Notes added to each article update the bibliography and consider issues that have been discussed in subsequent scholarly literature. There is a new preface and a comprehensive index.


  • Preface
  • Pictorial Narrative and Church Mission in Sixth-century Gaul
  • Diction in the “Bibles of the Illiterate”
  • Medieval Art as Argument
  • “Pictures Fertile with Truth”: How Christians Managed to Make Images of God without Violating the Second Commandment
  • “The Most Lamentable Relic in the British Museum” New Observations on the Cotton Genesis
  • Hic homo formatur: the Genesis Frontispieces of the Touronian Bibles
  • Traces of an Early Illustrated Pentateuch
  • Paris grec 102: A Rare Illustrated Acts of the Apostles
  • An Apostle in Armor and the Mission of Carolingian Art
  • A Lay Abbot as Patron: Count Vivian and the First Bible of Charles the Bald
  • The Programme and Structure of the Dura Synagogue Frescoes
  • Prophetic Portraits in the Dura Synagogue
  • Pictures as Scripture in Fifth-century Churches
  • “Caput et speculum omnium ecclesiarum”: Old St. Peter’s and Church Decoration in Medieval Latium
  • Passover in Old St. Peter’s
  • Old St. Peter’s as the Source and Inspiration of Medieval Church Decoration
  • An Eleventh-Century Ivory Plaque from South Italy and the Cassinese Revival
  • Scenes from the Acts of the Apostles on Some Early Christian Ivories
  • The Meeting of Peter and Paul in Rome. An Emblematic Narrative of Spiritual Brotherhood
  • Additional Notes
  • Index

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