Along remote transalpine pilgrimage routes between France and Italy, medieval travelers frequently encountered small, openfronted chapels frescoed in the 15th century. Despite astonishing numbers, almost no documentation testifies to their original contexts or viewership. Yet text abounds, if not about these structures, then upon them – whether signatures and dates, passages of religious texts, or direct addresses to the viewer. This paper attempts to reconstruct something of these chapels’ original viewership and social function by considering the semantic content of textual additions and by conceiving of them as at once a form of documentation and pictorial features to be visually interrogated.
The skin tone of the statue of Saint Maurice in the Magdeburg Cathedral (1245-1250), often described as the oldest depiction of a black saint in western Christianity, has not yet been explained convincingly. Devisse suggested Emperor Fredrick II as initiator; Suckale-Redlefsen read the statue in the missionary context, while Brandl offered an intended iconographic individualisation of the saint as explanation. However, none of these papers could explain why it took 100 years until Maurice was depicted black again. In this paper, the figure is examined from the point of view of the material turn, and interpreted as pointed loyalty to the Emperor by the archbishop of Magdeburg, Wilbrand of Käfernburg (1235-1252) whose diocese was put under under pressure by the archbishop of Mainz and local clerics.
I argue that the location of holy women and hermits in the murals from the narthex of the princely church in Rădăuți (Moldavia) aims at ensuring a gendered intercession above the tombs of a noble woman and of a local bishop. Previous studies concerning the iconographic taxonomy of the funeral space in 15th-century Moldavian churches have ignored the possible correlation between funeral images and the gender of the deceased. However, the funeral function of the space is often the main criterion for the selection of figures within the iconographic programs of the westernmost chambers in late and Post-Byzantine churches.