Ottonian art; Medieval Painting

Miscellaneous youjustgottrolled August 8, 2016 0 11
Medievalism has many manifestations. However, there are called general characteristics, but each period has its own accents. Thus we speak of Carolingian art, Ottonian art, Romanesque and Gothic art, etc. In this article, we highlight some aspects of the Ottonian painting.

Ottonian art

The name "Ottonian art" is derived from the names of the German emperor Otto I, III and III. They have left their mark on the period which falls roughly between the years 900 and 1000. For the case which clarify the respective Otto's let pass by.
Otto I. Miniature. Ivrea, Archivio Capitalia Tolar Otto I
German king-emperor, son and successor of Henry I. He reigned from 936 to 973. A known exploit his victory over the Hungarians in 955; the battle on the Lechfeld. In 962 he made in Rome by Pope John XII emperor crowns. He promoted friendly relations with Byzantium by seeking a marriage candidate for his son in Constantinople.
Otto II. Thumbnail. Chantilly, Musée CondéOtto II
German king-emperor. He reigned from 973 to 983. Son and successor of Otto I. In 969 he married a Byzantine. After much struggle, he knew, in his capacity as co-emperor in 970 Lorraine to subjugate. During his attempt to restore the authority of Pope Benedict VII, he was defeated in 982 by crushing Cotrone in Calabria. He also had to watch the rich lands east of the Elbe evaded his authority.
Otto III. Thumbnail. Munich State Library Otto III
German king-emperor. Son and successor Otto II. After regency of his mother, the Byzantine Theofano, and his grandmother Adelaide, he began his reign in 995. That period lasted until 1002. In 996 he was crowned emperor. In 999 he appointed an independent new pope, his friend Gerbert of Aurillac. Which became Pope Sylvester II. Otto III dreamed of a new Roman empire based on Civitate Dei Augustine. Among others by recognizing the King of Hungary, he weakened the position of Germany.


Between the German Empire and Byzantium were close ties. In 969 Otto II married the daughter of John Tzimiskes, the man who had taken the place of the murdered Byzantine emperor. Initially it had been planned that Otto II to the Byzantine princess would marry. The political complications, however, was settled for the daughter of the ruler. This Byzantine wife, Theofano, ernorme had an influence in the Ottonian Empire: daughter of Otto I, wife of Otto II, mother of Otto III and finally regent until her son could take government task. With its Byzantine culture made its appearance at the Ottonian imperial court. Even before the effects resulting from the Crusades asserted themselves, the Byzantine state attitudes and culture were imported in the west.

Features Ottonian painting

As a general feature of the Ottonian painting we would term "ontstijging the physical, earthly reality" can handle. In the pictures was something of the eternal, the hushed, stripped of the everyday reality, a mystical reality that concerned the shadow of eternity and eternity wanted to be.
Technically let translate into the following principles:
  • The artist broke away from the illusion of space that still pursuing the Carolingian artists.
  • There was no desire, no desire to approach reality.
  • They turned away from the design, known in the art of the ancient world.
  • Because spaciousness played no role, the plane was "rediscovered".


When we talk about art Ottonian, Reichenau is a concept. Without Reichenau we would not as much about the Ottonian art, especially painting, come to know his. Reichenau is an island in Lake Constance and has three villages, or if you want to: towns. Of this Oberzell one. In Oberzell on Reichemau we find the Sankt Georg-Kirche and paintings in this church a cycle of Christ's miracles, manufactured in the Ottonian period. These paintings cycle gives us a wonderful picture of the artistic concepts of the Ottonian artists. We mention some of the main features of this type of painting, such as those derivable from the said cycle. In the background we see painted blue, brown and green stripes. They argue symbolic earth, air and sky for. The figure of Christ is central in the paintings; the gestures he makes, you can see that he is the commander of illness, life, death and natural disasters. His stature towering high from that of other cut images. We conclude that the representation of the landscape was greatly reduced to symbolism; some stripes. The symbolic meaning of the gesture is more important than a faithful reproduction and finally, the proportional relationship between the figure of Christ and see the others leave ò new symbolism which was beyond reality.

Book Illuminations

The manuscripts produced among others during the reference period were here, we can divide into four main groups.
  • Evangelaria It contains texts of the four Gospels, namely Matthew. Mark, Luke and John.
  • These lectionaries contain extracts from the letters of the apostles and parts of the Old Testament.
  • Aria This sacrament prayer books that were used during the administration of the sacraments.
  • Psalters It contains the psalm texts, such as that occurred in the Old Testament, stated.

These manuscripts were because of their liturgical use considered sacred. To this sacred, this secluded from everyday reality, extra stress, the performances strict ascetic -almost aandoende- rules were tied. Everything was illustrative only if there was only out to "steal eye" it was rejected.
The individual is displaced by the eternally valid. This allows all images to solidify formulas. All life juices are, as it were squeezed.
The artist returns to the two-dimensional. That does not mean that he could realize the perspective view on the plane, but that he tried to capture in imitation of the ancient art and the subsequent targeted Carolingian art expressiveness in his work. Now, however, the flat surface is as it were rediscovered; a logical development if we consider the fact that the view of the existing reality was less important than displaying the everlasting. In this age also comes the golden background in fashion, in imitation of Byzantine art icons. This gives the miniatures an almost sacred ordination, so they transcend the here and now.

Famous boulevard manuscripts

  • The oldest manuscript in Reichenau made, it is Evangelarium that was made for Bishop Gero of Cologne. The dating of this manuscript is approximately 960.
  • The Egbert Codex produced in 980 and on display at the City Library of Trier, the life of Christ shows in 51 thumbnails. Very striking in these miniatures is the dominant presence of Christ in terms of stature.
  • In Evangelarium of Otto III from the Cathedral Treasury Cologne is the golden fond used for the first time in thumbnails. The pages on which Otto III shows, make this manuscript into a valuable document. The manner in which the various figures are arranged relative to each other, it tells us a lot about the then common hierarchy.
  • The thumbnails in the Munich Evangelarium for Otto III heben an extraordinary expressiveness received by the frame of columns and arches that accentuate the depicted events through their insulating function.
  • The pericopes book for Henry II.
  • The Apocalypse of Bamberg, where the visions that got the apsotel John on Patmos are illustrated.
  • The Evangelarium for abbess Hitda of Meschede. This manuscript is on display at the State Library of Darmstadt.

Examples of Manuscript

Evangelarium from the Cathedral Treasury Aachen
In this manuscript is depicted on a miniature Emperor Otto III against a gold ground. The gold background is used here for the first time. The emperor is encased in an oval nimbus on his throne carried by Terra is, the female personification of the earth. Above his head, we see, from a circular shape -eeuwigheid- open up the hand of God in the donating gesture. It's either that touches hand the crown on the head of Otto III, as if the emperor is crowned by God Himself. It is also possible that the artist has the idea to call the emperor is an outright gift of God. In any case, it is clear from this hand gesture that a confidential relationship exists between God and Caesar.
In the right hand, the imperial orb, the left hand is empty, but open in confidence. Normally, the emperor was in the hand holding the state executive. The four evangelist symbols hold a ribbon, which is draped on the chest of the emperor. Top left we perceive the man with angel wings -no - the symbol for Matthew. Below that, we see the bull, the symbol for Lucas. On the right we see the top of the eagle, the symbol of John. However, if we look carefully, we do not have much imagination to create a dove from there, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The quartet, however, would be upset by this, so we go out of the eagle. Below is the lion, Marcus.
Besides the Emperor are two kings pay tribute to him. In their hands they hold a banner. Left below right, two soldiers and two priests.
The fully taken into account, we can conclude that there is provided a certain hierarchy in the rangschiking of the picture elements.
Evangelarium of Munich Otto III
If we consider the image of the washing of feet in this Evangelarium, we notice that the architectures are not intended to indicate that the event took place inside plate, but only serve to frame the performance. The expression of the figures is reinforced by it. The people are namellijk isolated and therefore accentuated. Two columns appear here carry a city, which like a canopy over the spectacle is. Between the columns is a gold background, to emphasize the heavenly majesty of the Christ figure, which is incidentally placed exactly in the middle of the image. Symmetry and geometric order to get a position as a picture language.
Peter has just said he did not want Jesus to wash his feet. Following the reply of his Master that he will no inheritance in Him, Peter explains that it is necessary that he should be completely washed by Christ.
The art historian H. Jantzen says of this scene: "the passionate devotion of the disciple to his Master, the poignant seriousness of the scene, the blaze of emotions, concerned all bystanders at the dialogue, the symbolism of the event For example, ourselves in the foot-washing in mind the ever-prevailing in the relation of the disciple to his Lord, detached from each related to a particular event that has occurred somewhere in a particular place. "


As with many art movements, we also speak at the Ottonian painting over some schools, namely the Schools of Reichenau, Echternach, Trier, Liège, Fulda, Regensburg and Salzburg.