IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 312: The Tree as Symbol, Allegory, and Structural Device in Medieval Art and Thought, III: Trees and the Classical Tradition

Monday 7 July 2008, 16.30-18.00

Organiser:Andrea Worm, Cambridge University Library, University of Cambridge
Moderator/Chair:Hanna Josephine Vorholt, International Max Planck Research School, Göttingen
Paper 312-aThe Tree of Porphyry
(Language: English)
Annemieke Verboon, Research Institute for History, Universiteit Leiden
Index terms: Art History - General, Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Manuscripts and Palaeography, Philosophy
Paper 312-bTrees of Paradise on Southern Italian Church Portals: Touchstones of Iconography
(Language: English)
Oliver Becker, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut, Firenze
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Theology
Paper 312-cAtlas in the Tree: Aspects of Cosmic Kingship on the Floor Mosaic of the Norman Cathedral at Otranto
(Language: English)
Christine Ungruh, Philosophische Fakultät, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Art History - General

The representation of knowledge using the model of the tree is deeply rooted in the classical tradition. Of particular interest in that case are the Trees of Porphyry with their unique mnemonic structure (III.1), which is at the same time interpreting the represented knowledge by means of the choice of a specific arboreal form. But it is also the classical and late antique tradition that form the way in which the tree as a metaphor functions in different context, which becomes apparent with the floor mosaic of Otranto being one of the most prominent and fascinating examples: The image of the Tree of Life provides the overall scheme in which the history of the world is presented, but also combined with many elements from classical iconography such as the figure of Atlas (III.2). The paper concluding the session also examines southern Italian examples (III.3). It deals with a question of great methodological importance in regard to the iconographical interpretation of arboreal imagery in architectural ornament.