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IMC 2006: Sessions

Session 502: Reading Meaning in Art and Architecture, I: New Approaches to Church Architecture

Tuesday 11 July 2006, 09.00-10.30

Moderator/Chair:Meredith Cohen, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds / University of Oxford
Paper 502-aThe Capitals of the Choir and the North Portal at Autun: Pilgrimage, Penance, and Sin as Depicted in 12th-Century Burgundian Sculpture
(Language: English)
Christopher Hornig, University College London
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Art History - Sculpture, Religious Life
Paper 502-bThe Rhetoric of Visuality in the Mosaic of St Maria in Trastevere in Rome
(Language: English)
Stefano Riccioni, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto
Index terms: Art History - General, Epigraphy, Rhetoric, Social History
Paper 502-cArchitectural Symbolism: Patrons and Builders
(Language: English)
Nigel L. Hiscock, School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Art History - General, Ecclesiastical History, Religious Life

Abstract paper -a: A new interpretation of the north portal sculpture and the choir capitals of St Lazare at Autun is offered, providing a cohesive narrative structure to the diverse images. This structure is based on overall themes of Pilgrimage, Penance, and Sin, and links the capitals of the choir with the sculpture of the North Portal and the famous Eve lintel. The sequence of the capitals depicts the progress made by the repentant pilgrim and the ever present danger of sin, a pattern that is repeated in the figures of the capitals themselves, who in their gestures illustrate this eternal struggle.

Abstract paper -b: This project aims to study the mosaic of St Maria in Trastevere in Rome, as the product of rhetorical 'speech' which employs images, inscriptions, colours, and texts. I would start with a critical presentation of the historical sources and with a description of the iconography of the mosaics, including the written texts considered as 'images'. In particular, I would analyse the following topics: the significance of the different colours of the inscriptions; the iconography of Mary and Christ 'speaking' through the dialogue of the Song of Songs; the significance and symbolic difference between codex and volumen; the hagiography and significance of the saints represented and the liturgical associations of the colour of their robes; the unusual clothing of Innocent II; and the gold inscription. A palaeographic examination would proceed in parallel to a stylistic analysis of the work in order to apprehend the conceptual and compositional strategy of the figurative message and its final realisation. The overall result of such an examination will be a reconsideration of the figurative, political and subjective relationships in the apse mosaic of St Maria in Trastevere and in the Roman art and history of the 12th century.

Abstract paper -c: Such medieval evidence as there is of intentional symbolism in architecture can be connected with Christian Platonist thought. Æthelgar at Winchester and Ramwold at Regensberg are recorded programming symbolic content into their projects, indicating other projects would have been similarly intended to carry meaning. Architecture is also interpreted symbolically by Honorius, Durandus and others, which would imply, at least sometimes, intended symbolism in design.

Taking this as its premise, this paper will enquire how the symbolic content of a project might have been formulated by a patron and implemented by builders, using the Angel Choir of Lincoln Cathedral as a case study.