Art in the Middle Ages.
During the middle ages, art moved away from the realism found during the classical age of Rome and Greece toward a more symbolic style. Art became more religious and less secular with an emphasis on spirituality and salvation. During this period there was no art for arts' sake, all art had some function whether it was propaganda for the nobility or the church or an item intended for everyday use. By the high middle ages many paintings carried a designation from the church granting the person who prayed before them an indulgence, which guaranteed them a certain time off from purgatory which got them into heaven faster.

The Archangel Michael.
Ivory Carving
Artist Unknown, 6th Century A.D.
This carving is one half of a book cover. The book would have been bound with straps through the three holes to the left. It's a good example of the waning of classical influences, because while the piece contains some of the realistic qualities of that period, such as the precision of Michaels' face and the classical nature of his robes and architectural elements, the image is lacking in perspective. There is also a definite emphasis on the spiritual and the scene is otherworldly - that is to say, Michael stands not on earth, but on the plane of heaven. The inscription at the top reads "Receive these gifts, and having learned the cause."

Celtic Annular Brooch
Silver, Gold, Amber, 8.62 cm Diameter
Early Medieval, Celtic, 9th Century A.D., National Museum of Ireland Collection, Dublin.
Annular brooches were popular in celtic society. They were used to hold a cloak closed or as a decorative item. This particular brooch was found in Roscrea County, Tipperary, Ireland.

The Emperor Charlemagne
Artist Unknown, 10th - 11th Century A.D., Metz Cathedral Treasure
Inspired by the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, this statuette copies pose and bearing, but the clothing Charlemagne wears is definitely medieval in style, as is the sword (not seen here) and the orb that he carries. The statuette is also highly stylized, idealizing the emperor and his horse.

Fragment: The Bayeux Tapestry
Colored Wool on Linen, height 20 inches, length 230 feet
Artists Unknown, 1073-83 A.D., Centre Guillaume le Conquerant, Bayeux, France.
Composed of 48 panels, the Bayeux Tapestry illustrates the conquest of England by William the Conqueror. It was commissioned for display in the Bayeux Cathedral and is first mentioned in an inventory of the Cathedrals' collection in 1476. It is some matter of debate as to who the commissioner was, some say it was Matilda, Williams' Queen and others the Bishop Odo of Bayeux, Earl of Kent and Williams' half-brother. Most agree, however, that it was woven by English nuns as the style of the figures is similar to other work produced in Canterbury around the same time. It was used at one point as a wagon cover by french revolutionaries in 1792. For more information on the Tapestry, including views of all the panels, go to The Entire Bayoux Tapestry.

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