Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The art and architecture of the crusader states
VII: Painting and Sculpture in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1099-1291, pp. 251-280 PDF (11.6 MB)
252 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES IV surrender on October 2, 1187, following the catastrophe at Hattin. The second encompasses the hundred years from July 12, 1191, to May 18, 1291, during which Acre was the de facto capital of the kingdom. In this century there was only limited access to the holy city, negotiated by Frederick II, from February 18, 1229, until August 23, 1244, when Jerusalem was overrun by the Khorezmian Turks. The best-known monument from the earlier period, though cer tainly not the earliest work of painting, is "Queen Melisend's Psalter," to be dated probably between 1131 and 1143. 1 Several artists ex ecuted the miniatures of this codex and their work gives us a broad introduction to crusader painting in the first half of the twelfth cen tury. Basilius, the artist of the twenty-four full-page introductory miniatures, paints in a strongly Byzantine tradition, visible especially in the Crucifixion (p1. XXXIXa). The austere style with its slender, attenuated forms, the specific iconography of the dead Christ with four nails, and the number and arrangement of the figures who sur round him show that Byzantine models have been followed quite closely. Nonetheless, Basilius was surely a westerner who had care fully studied Byzantine art. On occasion his Latin background emerges, as in the miniature of the women at the sepulcher (p1. XXXIXb). Byzantine practice was to depict the scene with two women, based on St. Matthew's gospel, while the three Marys are drawn from St. Mark's narrative, which was the standard tradition in western Europe. Otherwise, with the exception of the handling of the gold ground as a neutral foil, the scene is done in the Byzantine manner; these telling details alone seem to reveal something of Basilius's native tradition. A second artist, who did the eight initials for the Psalter, was Basilius's equal in ability but painted in a more sumptuous and exotic decorative technique. The overall effect of oriental splendor in the Beatus "B", derived from painting in black directly on a burnished gold ground, is blended with a western pictorial vocabulary such as the interlace, the mask head, the clambering figures in the vines, and David with his harp (p1. XXXIXc). These elements demonstrate a good knowledge of English art on the part of this painter, but the "Islamic" technique is most closely comparable to several manu scripts of the Monte Cassino school about 1100. It is thus likely that this artist was a south Italian transmitting northern European ideas 1. "Queen Melisend's Psalter," London, British Library, MS. Egerton 1139; see above, pp. 126-129.
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