Many restrictions on the teaching of cosmological doctrines according to Aristotle and his commentator Averroes in connection with theology were issued at the Paris University, starting at the second third of the 13th century. These restrictions culminated in the famous condemnation by Etienne Tempier, the bishop of Paris (1277). Hence, there is no wonder that at the same time representation of the cosmological creation of the world in public and monumental art was rather scarce, with the exception of its reappearance in five churches during the 14th century in the Upper Rheine.
This paper discusses the monumental sculptures representing a cosmological creation at the south portal of The Holy Cross church in Schwaebish-Gmuend, created by the Parler’s workshop (1351). Focusing on the representation of the universe I contend that the sculptural imagery reveals thorough acquaintance with the same prohibited doctrines and thus raises questions about the propagation of knowledge in contemporaneous society: Who were the intended spectators? What was the knowledge available to them? What was the role of sculptures in the spreading of scientific literacy from elite groups to prospering civic audiences? Was it forbidden or not? This paper shows that in the middle ages as today, what was banned at one place could stand in the center of interest and be presented to the public without restrictions in another.
This talk will examine how the representation of Solomon Judgment in Chartres Cathedral, ca. 1220, invites the viewer to participate in biblical narrative as an arbiter from within contemporaneous cultural constructions and juridical conceptions. It will inquire to the interactive environment in which viewers and public sculptured tympana were the chief actors of juridical drama. By studying late 12th and 13th century legal procedures in Chartres vis-à-vis the visualized judgment in stone, I will show that this invitation for participation display not only a far-remote historical moral dilemma but also a relevant contemporaneous legal one.