What is Medieval Art?

Medieval art generally refers to art produced in Europe during the Middle Ages, the period from approximately the 5th century to the 17th century CE.

There were many types of medieval arts, ranging from painting and sculpture to textile arts, illuminated manuscripts, metalwork, mosaics, and stained glass windows.

Medieval arts can differ widely in its conventions and characteristics, depending on the time period and the region.

Early medieval works of art from the Roman Empire, for example, often followed Roman conventions, while art from northern regions of Europe generally followed Germanic conventions.

Islamic influences can be seen in some types of art from the Middle Ages. In later centuries, the various artistic influences can generally be seen to mix somewhat, and certain regions of Europe are believed to have created distinctive artistic conventions of their own.

The King’s College Chapel at Cambridge University was built in the late medieval period.

Various schools of medieval arts appeared throughout the progression of history. Art done in the style of Late Antiquity is considered the earliest of these schools, and is believed to largely mimic the artistic conventions of the Romans.

This style of art probably persisted the longest in southern Europe. In Northern Europe, England, and Ireland, however, Late Antiquity art is believed to have been virtually non-existent, as these people never came fully under the influence of the Roman Empire.

In Spain, where Islam rather than Catholicism was considered the dominant religion for many centuries, medieval art is believed to have developed facets reminiscent of Arab culture and artistic conventions.

The illuminated manuscripts are a valuable example of medieval art.

Other styles of art prevalent in the Middle Ages included Romanesque and Gothic art. Romanesque art preceded Gothic art, approximately in the 10th century AD

Art historians normally believe that this style of art combined the many cultural and religious influences present in Europe at the time. Although it incorporated elements of the Islamic convention, it dealt primarily with Christian issues.

Gothic art is believed to have first emerged around the 12th century and had probably spread throughout Europe by the 16th century.

Heraldry, a type of personal art used to represent a person or family, developed in medieval times.

Much of the art created in medieval Europe was religious in nature. The Catholic Church used paintings, sculpture, and other art forms during this period to help educate the largely illiterate public on religious issues.

Some art forms, such as illuminated manuscripts, often contained marginal scribbles and sketches with no apparent purpose other than, possibly, to entertain those who created and viewed them. Some examples of medieval art, such as the Bayeux Tapestry, are believed to have recounted important historical events.

Metalworking, especially precious metals such as silver and gold, is believed to have become important during this time, perhaps because the Catholic Church believed that only valuable metals were suitable for making the implements used during religious worship.

Medieval art refers to art produced in Europe during the Middle Ages.

To compensate for their Spartan design, medieval castles were often decorated with mobile and temporary works of art, such as tapestries, when they were still inhabited.

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