University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

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)

Page 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. 

Go up to Top of Page