• Characteristics • Chronology • Romanesque Painting techniques • Italy • France • Spain • England • Germany and also Austria• Hungary and Czechoslovakia • Denmark and Sweden

scene from the life of David native The Winchester holy bible (1160-75). Winchester Cathedral Library. Exemplifing middle ages Christian art and now recognized to be among the finest of 12th century English Romanesque illuminated manuscripts.

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EVOLUTION OF art For general guide, see: history of Art. For a chronological perform of dates, see: history of arts Timeline. For particular movements and also schools, see: arts Movements.


In the background of Christian art, the hatchet "Romanesque" is a quite vague and principally architecture term that has been expanded to other fine art techniques such together painting and sculpture. If Romanesque style is marked by a brand-new massiveness of scale, and Romanesque sculpture by better realism, Romanesque painting is characterized by a new formality that style, largely devoid that the naturalism and also humanism of either its classical antecedents or its Gothic successors. (Put simply: prior to Gothic delicacy, comes Romanesque severity.) linear designs predominate, creating majestic calmness or, alternatively, agitated expressiveness. The decorative character of Romanesque stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, altarpiece art and other imagery, can be viewed as a sort of bridge in between Eastern byzantine art - with its symbolic, formalized icon painting - and also Western Gothic art, through its late 14th century courtly variant recognized as international Gothic.

In general, Romanesque art reflected the rise in political and also economic stability throughout Europe. With stability came greater tax and also tithe revenues for the Church, which as such had an ext money to invest on brand-new churches - finish with stained glass art, rock statues that Saints, fresco paintings, illuminated manuscripts and also the prefer - which consequently attracted larger congregations and also bigger collections. At the same time, the new religious orders (Cistercian, Benedictine and others) opened new monasteries (like Cluny in main France, or St Denis external Paris), all of which needed various creates of religious art, consisting of inspirational mural paint in their cloisters and refectories, too as an ext illustrated bibles and also other species of dedication books. Indeed, some art chroniclers view Romanesque art as a enjoy of cultivation monastic piety. In any event, the brand-new Romanesque movement was a tremendous rise for medieval artists, throughout western Europe.


The institution of middle ages painting recognized by usual consent as Romanesque - a hatchet which all chroniclers admit to be even less an accurate and less clear than the ax Gothic - begins in the early on years the the eleventh century and also ends in the thirteenth, v the bear of the Gothic world. Its an exact chronology, however, is hard to establish, because that its advancement took place in various ways and also at different times in Italy, Germany, France and also Spain.

After the duration known together pre-Romanesque, which is composed of Carolingian arts (c.750-900) and the later on phase of Ottonian art (c.900-1050) - back the latter often lingered on right into the center of the eleventh century in regions belonging come the empire - Romanesque painting developed its very own individual styles.

In the center of the eleventh century, Greek artists, carried in by the future Pope Victor III, decorated a number of churches and also sanctuaries in southern Italy. This might, perhaps, be the secret of the birth of Romanesque art, however if so, how deserve to we explain the Catalan paintings at El Brull (1062), Durro, Bohi, and also those of the understand of Osormort, i beg your pardon are more than likely of the very same date; and in France, those the Berze-la-Ville and also Saint-Chef; and also even in Jutland, the murals in the church that Skibet?

The an unified study of style and iconography should permit us to day mural paintings fairly accurately. Regrettably the destruction of a large number that paintings, which avoids us from acquiring a considerable view, makes the whole thing uncertain, and also we understand that iconographical study by itself have the right to be completely misleading, countless themes having been resumed or abandoned by Romanesque artists.

Faced through the complicated cross-currents the influences and the simultaneously maturing of formats in places scattered end the length and also breadth the Europe, us shall monitor the usual method of examining the advancement of Romanesque art according come the geographical division of the West today.

Romanesque paint Techniques

The various techniques of mural paint are: fresco, distemper, wax painting and fresco al secco. Because that fresco, the mason prepares a particular area of fresh, smooth mortar or plaster on which the painter functions directly, through slightly moistened brush full of floor colour. The colour pigments pass through the mortar if this is drying. This method requires great skill ~ above the artist"s part, because he cannot go over his first strokes or make any kind of corrections. The an option of colour is limited to those acquired from planet or chalk: whites, ochres, yellows, browns and reds, all quite subdued in tone.

Distemper paint is done, favor fresco, ~ above a formerly prepared cloak of plaster, i m sorry in this situation is moistened afresh completely. We may call it distemper, back strictly speak this requires working top top a dry surface with colours soaked in water mixed with size. But there is no precise term for the technique, which to be chiefly provided in France throughout the Romanesque period.

Melted wax painting, which had likewise been recognized for centuries and also even in roman times, is lugged out by mixing powdered colours with wax, i m sorry is melted and also introduced right into the soil by way of a cook spatula or item of metal. See also: Encaustic painting method.

Fresco al secco is, much more simply, done straight on come the dry plaster. It is done with colours slaked in water come which is added either white of egg or adhesive made indigenous fish skeleton or hare skins, which serves to fix the colours.

For panel paints (altarpieces) and also illuminated manuscripts (book paintings), the normal painting method was tempera.

Romanesque painting in Italy

For details of medieval Italian painting across central Italy, northern Italy, Tuscany, Lombardy, Venezia and also Friuli, and Italian Switzerland, see: Romanesque paint in Italy.

Romanesque painting in France

For details of the different French Romanesque colleges in Maine, Anjou, Poitou, Berry, Orleans, Saint-Savin, Burgundy, and also the Auvergne, see: Romanesque painting in France.

Romanesque miniature painting (mostly paints in illuminated manuscripts) emerged alongside murals the the period. Rome, Cluny, Salzburg and also Canterbury were essential centres, and also attracted the finest miniaturists from all over the Continent. Crucial works include: Moralia Manuscript (c.1111); the St Albans Psalter (1120-30); the Psalter that Henry de Blois (1140-60); and the Lambeth holy bible (1150).

Romanesque painting in Spain

For details that Spanish paintings from the pre-Gothic period (c.1000-1200), in Gerona, Roussillon, Catalonia, Sigena, Castile and Leon, and also Majorca, see: Romanesque paint in Spain.

For a comparison with modern styles native the East, view also: Russian medieval Painting (c.950-1100).

Romanesque painting in England

It is challenging to kind any basic idea that Romanesque wall painting in England. Just the big number of illustrated manuscripts maintained in libraries testify to the vitality of Romanesque arts in this country, for the frescoes i m sorry were undoubtedly a leading attribute of this art have almost fully disappeared. Over there are only a couple of churches which tho retain component of their twelfth-century decoration.

At Hardham, in the south of England, the interior of the little church that St. Botolph to be once totally covered v fresco paintings. In the nave, ~ above the west (entrance) wall, we have the right to still identify scenes indigenous the Apocalypse, although these are significantly effaced. ~ above the east wall, over the arch opened onto the choir, we check out the Lamb in a medallion, venerated by two angels. Top top the same wall, more to the right, there starts a cycle of the Childhood that Christ i beg your pardon is continued on the upper register of the south wall and again top top the phibìc wall, finishing on the left of the Lamb: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Adoration of the Shepherds, the Star showing up to the Magi, the Epiphany, the Magi prior to Herod, the Adoration the the Magi, Joseph"s Dream, the Dream of the Magi, the trip into Egypt, the Massacre of the Innocents, and either the Presentation in the holy place or the child Jesus confronting the doctors of the Law. On the center register, there is a collection of hagiographic scenes, consisting of the story of St. George, if the lower register reflects a background of hanging draperies.

In the choir, the paintings on the lower register are virtually undecipherable, and on the top register there only remain 2 Seraphim from what must have actually been a Christ in Majesty, together with two paintings on the west wall, one representing Adam and Eve, the other probably Eve suckling she child. ~ above the other wall surface we have actually the Elders that the Apocalypse and the Apostles.

The paintings at Hardham, like most of those still to be discovered in England, show up strongly influenced by the Romanesque Biblical arts of the Continent, the heir to Carolingian traditions. We recognize the exact same influences and also the same layouts in a whole collection of country churches in Denmark (Orreslev, Jorlunde, etc).

Further to the north-west, at Claverley near Wolverhampton, the tiny church of all Saints still shows a few fragments that mural decoration. A frieze the fifteen horsemen, although exceptionally crude in execution, recalls the Bayeux tapestry, particularly in the illustration of the faces; it cannot be considered merely as showing some romantic of chivalry. Part authorities have construed it together the encounter in between Roger de Montgomery and also the English at the battle of Hastings. Others view in that a Psychomachia, mirroring the win of the virtues over the vices.

We find an additional example the the influence of continent Romanesque arts in the frescoes of the charming small church of St. Man the Baptist in ~ Clayton. Right here there is already a stronger asian influence, and we recognize byzantine elements adjusted to the Benedictine path of the Cluniac style. The 2 details reproduced: Christ entrusting the Gospel to St Paul and also the Saint, displayed in the enclosure the the Heavenly Jerusalem, through his clothes indicated through a conventional double line, still have a particular kinship v the Hardham frescoes, however the pattern which develops the lift of every these compositions, bands that red, ochre, white and also black, is much an ext Oriental in feeling. These paintings were most likely executed in the direction of the center of the twelfth century.

The monastic center of Canterbury, in the duchy of Kent, maintained an ext direct and much more frequent contact with Rome 보다 the remainder of England. Because that this reason, the frescoes in its cathedral display screen a an effective Byzantine influence.

In the crypt, the chapel that St. Gabriel must have actually been reinforced after ~ the fire that 1174, and also the pieces of paint which subsist in the apse are visible just in man-made light. They have actually an exceptional freshness of colour. On the vault we see the Heavenly Jerusalem, and also Christ in a mandorla sustained by 4 angels; on the north wall surface the annunciation to Zachariah; below, the story the St. Man the Baptist, his birth and also naming and also to the left of this scene, a hieratic point of view in the Italian-Byzantine manner.

These paintings date from the third quarter that the twelfth century, if those of St. Anselm"s chapel, which opens up on to the choir that the cathedral, space posterior come the fire the 1174. The this chapel"s decoration just a single panel remains: St. Paul being bitten by a viper. This subject, taken from a i in the action of the Apostles, was rarely portrayed by painters. The execution carefully resembles that of the paintings in the crypt, although the has greater refinement and more colour.

Finally, in Winchester Cathedral, the paints in the chapel that the holy Sepulchre, although tho showing byzantine influence, foreshadow the arrival of the Gothic spirit. The iconographical design template of this chapel, i beg your pardon is used specifically during divine Week, is came to with the Passion. The perspectives of the figures in the lower from the Cross, or that of mary Magdalene, remind one forcibly of the paintings of Montmorillon, back they disclose an also stronger naturalistic tendency. For an understanding into the production of such treasures of publication painting as The Winchester holy bible (1160-75), see: do of Illuminated Manuscripts and background of Illuminated Manuscripts (600-1200 CE).

Romanesque painting in Germany and also Austria

Germany and Austria saw so profuse an artistic efflorescence in between the ninth and the eleventh centuries the it is challenging to distinguish precisely in between Romanesque wall surface paintings and those which preceded them. (See also: German middle ages Art c.800-1250.) The nearly total disappearance of mural decorations executed throughout the Romanesque period, in addition to the terrible restorations the the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, have further included to the difficulty.

In the Isle of Reichenau (Lake Constance), the church that St. George, which was dependent ~ above the abbey that Oberzell, as well as the church that Unterzell room decorated with spiritual paintings i m sorry unfortunately space in really poor condition. This paintings, i beg your pardon were subjected to two deplorable restorations, then extended with a coat of distemper, and also retouched again as soon as they were uncovered in 1880-2, are in spite of all this one of the finest examples of Ottonian art still to be found.

In the nave that St. George of Oberzell, the paintings - they room the oldest - are collection out on three registers. Below, between the arcades which division the central nave from the side-aisles, we check out saints and also prophets, when the top register is decorated with numbers of apostles. The middle register depicts Christ"s miracles: the devils pushed out of the possessed man at Gerasa; the healing of the male born blind and of the woman through dropsy; Jesus stilling the tempest, in i m sorry Our mr is displayed twice, first asleep and then stilling the waters; the cleansing the the leper; then, in one single picture, the heal of the woman v an worry of blood and also the elevating of Jairus"s daughter; and finally the increasing of the widow"s child at Nain and the raising of Lazarus.

Many historians take into consideration this series of paints to be the oldest, and ascribe it come the beginning of the eleventh century, top top the communication of its apparent kinship through the Evangelarium of rose oil III, initially at Reichenau, and dating from around the year 1000.

The altar-front specialized to St. Waldburga, painted about 1180, gives only a faint idea the what mural paint in the lower Rhineland must have actually been.

Ratisbon, now Regensburg, in Bavaria was among the great centres that Romanesque art, and also famous because that its school of miniaturists. The murals in the chapel of every Saints, in the cathedral cloister, and also those of the Abbey church that Prufening, a couple of miles away, space in too negative a state to it is in reproduced. They enable us come discern, underneath the deplorable nineteenth-century restorations, the an effective Byzantine influence which spread, under the impulsion that the Benedictine movement, throughout northern Italy, southerly Germany, the Tyrol and also eastern France.

At Salzburg which, like Ratisbon, to be a great cultural centre in the twelfth century, the nearly total damage of middle ages churches and also the loss of the Romanesque cathedral deprives us of any kind of frescoes previously than the twelfth century. The most necessary paintings that this branch the Romanesque mural art room those kept in the convent the Nonnberg at Salzburg, i beg your pardon was specifically for females of noble birth. The nuns" choir, a room adjoining the west wall of the church, includes niches in 3 of its walls in which room painted busts that saints. Return incomplete, these frescoes be affected by each other witness - through the purity and harmony of your colours, the beauty of the heads, with their oriental nobility, and also the richness and skilful modelling the the martyrs" silken robes - to a significant acquaintance through the traditions of Greek arts or in ~ least byzantine models.

The spread out of affect from Aquileia and Venice come Salzburg brought around the creation of regional schools, i beg your pardon in their rotate amalgamated the brand-new Italian-Byzantine tendencies with the contributions of thirteenth-century german art.

An instance of the complexity of the cross-currents typical of the entirety Romanesque duration is watched in the frescoes that St. John"s chapel, at Purgg. The decorations of this little mountain sanctuary, which date from the really beginning the the thirteenth century, depict, in the choir, the Lamb through its timeless worshippers, if the triumphal arch is painted v the Offerings of Cain and also Abel, and with donors" portraits. In the nave, three religious subjects without any kind of direct relation between them: the Nativity, the wonder of the Loaves, and also the Parable that the wise Virgins, room completed by a secular scene, the war between mice and rats.

On the old key road which, by method of the Via Mala and also the St. Boy name Pass, connect Italy with the district of Lake Constance, the church that St. Martin at Zillis provides a marvellous surprise: its wood ceiling, separated into one hundred and also fifty-three panels - a distinctive picture-book, the only Romanesque painted ceiling preserved nearly in its entirety - on i beg your pardon is displayed the entirety medieval cosmogony, with its Heaven and also Hell and its fabulous creatures. The conception shows great boldness, and also its execution impressive harmony. Grey, olive-green and also sky-blue room the dominant colours, versus which the reds was standing out v extraordinary vividness. The border consists of some forty fish-tailed monsters v a variety of bodies: dragons, mermaids playing horns, harps or violins, a monkey talk astride a fish, and so on. Within this structure is shown the life the Christ, with the miracles and scenes indigenous the Passion. This ensemble is completed by a few episodes from the legend the St. Martin, patron saint of the church. This ceiling at Zillis, painted in the middle of the twelfth century, is just one of the treasures of Romanesque art. If that cannot case to show the hand the a understand painter the inventive genius, however it bears eloquent witness come the worth of a distinctive style.

Romanesque painting in Hungary and also Czechoslovakia

Historically, Hungary without doubt played a many interesting function in the advancement of Romanesque art. Its church are important from the point of view of Romanesque architecture and sculpture, but they have actually for the most component lost the paintings which they without doubt once possessed, and also which must have actually been marked by eastern influence.

A couple of samples survive, among them the paintings in the reduced church at Feldebro, wherein the busts the Christ and the saints, and also the Offerings that Cain and Abel, are in a definitely Western Romanesque style.

In Czechoslovakia, a really complete set of paintings, dating from around 1134, totally covers the walls and also the cupola of the circular chapel, devoted to St. Catherine, the the lock of Znojmo.

In the lower zone are presented scenes native the life of Jesus, and above, a many interesting series of scene from the legend that Przemysl. The center of the cupola is occupied by the Dove the the divine Spirit, while approximately it are 4 seraphim alternative with the 4 evangelists writing, every underneath his symbol. In the lower part of the cupola, between the centre of the dome and also the walls, King Vratislav and eighteen knights that his family are shown under arcades. The whole result is really splendid, in a totally free and expressive layout which is absolutely Romanesque.

At Stara Boleslav, the church that St. Clement (twelfth-century) is decorated follow me the optimal of the west wall with scenes from the legend of St. Clement, the Pope, through a frieze of meanders, if the lower component is spanned with big circular medallions in which are female figures, haloed, most likely allegorical.

Again in Czechoslovakia, in ~ Albrechtice, the frescoes in the apse that the church that St. Peter and St. Paul (second half of the twelfth century) have actually been restored, other than for a couple of fragments which encompass the figure of a priest before an altar v his 2 assistants.

We may additionally mention, at Prague, one angel, complete face, in a home window recess in St. Peter"s Church, and at Rovna, in the apse that the church the St. James, Christ in a mandorla supported by angels, through the Mission the the Apostles all around, and also below, the Life that St. James; in the nave, the Life of Jesus.

Romanesque paint in Denmark and also Sweden

Outside the byzantine group in Gotland - the great centre the trade v Novgorod (see, incidentally the Novgorod school of icon Painting (c.1100-1500) - Romanesque painting in Scandinavia reflects an obvious connection with an excellent Britain on the one hand and Germany on the other. The same is true together regards architecture and also sculpture. Wooden churches were really plain and quite unpretentious. Unfortunately just a few examples space left, such as the dashboard paintings kept in the Stockholm museum, i m sorry may have actually belonged come an altar and probably go not kind part that a mural decoration.

Only those church which were constructed of stone or masonry have actually sometimes preserved their decoration. The the two oldest Danish examples, the Romanesque cathedral the Roskilde has disappeared and been replaced by a structure of later on date, if only duplicates remain the the frescoes of the imperial church that Jellinge. However something of your art deserve to be found, although in a stiffer and an ext archaic style, in the continues to be of Tamdrup and also 0rreslev (both c.1125), whereby the intrados the the triumphal arch reflects the Offerings of Cain and Abel, under a medallion that Christ. This vigorous form of art, through its solid outlines and geometrical designs, is also to be uncovered in the churches of Kirke-Hyllonge Saeby and also Jorlunde.

Ferring includes a very curious collection of paintings, based on old traditions and also treated in a popular style.

There quiet remain, moreover, a variety of murals, painted as early as the middle of the twelfth century, in i beg your pardon varied elements are mingled. The constant use in ornamentation of large bands v a meander sample of classical origin, the ubiquity of scenes v stiff and also stylized, practically geometrical, figures, are usual to a entirety group that churches: St. Ibs the Roskilde, Gildebronde, Todbjaerg, Raasted, Sindbjaerg, Faarup, Fjenneslev, Maalov, Skibet - the fresco that horsemen below is among the masterpieces of Romanesque paint - and many others.

In one more group of church of later date - at Sostrup, Aal, Farup, Vislev - contacts v insular and also Germanic Byzantinism can be recognized an ext or less clearly.

The Romanesque frescoes of Sweden deserve to be separated into two groups: those in the southern part of the nation - Skania (which for centuries to be attached come Denmark) - and also those of the north. Unfortunately many of them have suffered native nineteenth-century restoration. We might cite amongst others the church of Va, Ovraby , Lackalanga, Finja and also Vinslov.

Romanesque paintings deserve to be checked out in few of the oldest churches and cathedrals, and the best art museums in the world.

For later on styles, see: Gothic illuminated manuscripts adhered to by the more decorative and also courtly worldwide Gothic illuminations.

REFERENCES we gratefully acknowledge the use of material from Romanesque paint by Juan Ainaud & Andre Held, a book we recommend for any kind of student of europe paintin (c.1000-1200).

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• for the definition of middle ages frescoes and altarpieces, see: famed Paintings Analyzed. • for information around medieval painting and sculpture in Europe, see: Homepage.