Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states
VII: Painting and sculpture in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, 1099-1291, pp. 251-280 PDF (16.3 MB)
Ch. VII PAINTING AND SCULPTURE 263 Such altarpieces were, of course, very popular in the west during the twelfth century. 15 But this frescoed stone altar with handsome classical-style moldings is unusual in the combination of a typically western program with local materials and a sculptural tradition that had survived in the Holy Land from early Christian times. It was fully painted, perhaps with metal medallions attached above the arcade in the cut circles in the stone. The altar must have been an impressive focus for the oratory of St. Stephen, done sometime before Jerusa lem fell in 1187. With it as a model we can attempt to imagine the splendor of the altars in the larger crusader churches inside the city, altars of which nothing survives. These examples of monumental crusader painting of the twelfth century in and around Jerusalem do not exhaust the extant remains in the Latin kingdom. But there can be no doubt they are the finest survivals in quantity and quality. Together with the manuscript illus trations and the icons, they present us with a varied picture of paint ing during the twelfth century in the Holy Land. Among the most notable characteristics of this work the predominance of ecclesiastical patronage stands out. While there was of course royal patronage as well, for books such as the Melisend Psalter, the church dominated the scene. It is of course possible that the column paintings at Bethlehem were commissioned by private patrons, but these may have been ecclesiastical donors as well. There is no way of knowing at present. Nonetheless, despite the dominant role of the church as patron, the art produced for it is characterized by its diversity. If there is a unifying trait characteristic of all the painting it is the strength of the Byzantine influence, notably stronger than in most parts of the west at the same period. Otherwise, stylistically we find a variety that is most obvious in the frescoes, less so in the mosaics, and least in the manuscripts. Of course the miniatures, so far as we now know, all emanated from a single scriptorium where there was a rather unified artistic approach. The monumental painting done by itinerant artists naturally tended to exhibit more local, individual characteristics. Finally, we can see that a variety of western tradi tions from both the north and the south of Europe are blended with the Byzantine. Remarkably, however, very little French influence can be discerned in the work. Less surprising is the absence of Ger man characteristics or direct Islamic influence; it seems to have been too soon for either of these. 15. See, for example, the retable from Lisbjerg (1140) or the shrine of Santo Domingo from Silos (1 140/50): Peter Lasko,Ars sacra, 800-1200 (Harmondsworth, 1972), figs. 179 and 266 respectively.
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