IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 712: The Tree as Symbol, Allegory, and Structural Device in Medieval Art and Thought, VI: Trees and Orders

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 14.15-15.45

Organiser:Andrea Worm, Cambridge University Library, University of Cambridge
Moderator/Chair:Marigold Anne Norbye, Department of History, University College London
Paper 712-aLignum Vitae: The Mendicant Orders and Scholastic Thought in Late Medieval Orvieto
(Language: English)
Pippa Salonius, Department of the History of Art, University of Warwick
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Art History - General, Art History - Sculpture
Paper 712-bArboreal / Corporeal: The Body of St Francis as a Tree
(Language: English)
Sara Ritchey, Department of History & Geography, University of Louisiana Lafayette
Index terms: Art History - General, Art History - Painting, Monasticism
Paper 712-cFranciscan Trees of Life: A Mnemonic Instrument to Justify the Order's Apostolicity
(Language: English)
Ulrike Ilg, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut, Firenze
Index terms: Architecture - Religious, Art History - General, Art History - Painting

The image of the Tree was frequently and in various ways implied by the newly establised orders of the 13th century, first of all the Franciscans, but also the Dominicans and the Carthusians. The facade of Orvieto (VI.1) is one of the most beautiful and intellectually fascinating examples for the use of arboreal imagery by the Dominicans. Its pictorial program functions as a representation of sacred history in form of a tree, hence the paper forms a link to the topics discussed in session II. Of particular interest is the use of arboreal imagery by the Franciscans, because the body of Saint Francis himself was often likened to a tree in the late medieval period (III.2). The session concludes with a case study of representations based on Bonaventure’s ‘Lignum Vitae’ (III.3): There, the tree functions as a mnemonic device, linking history to the salvation of mankind. Moreover, the adaptation of the tree motif has implications in regard to the self-representation of the Franciscans, which also allows for a contrasting comparison to the use of the motif by the Dominicans in Orvieto.