Week 5: Stephen Allen

The Lindau Gospels are infinite in their complexity. Not only is the book adorned lavishly with many different kinds of fabrics, gemstones, and gold, but one also must consider the complexity of its contents, and what they mean for the work that is the cover alone. Adding even more layers to the complexity of the Lindau Gospels, each of its covers was made at a different time, and in a different place from the others.


The front cover of the manuscript contains a large gold repoussé crucifixion at its center. Surrounding it are ten mourning figures, grieving the death of Jesus.  The cover is meant to be symbolic of the manuscripts contents. This is obvious as the figures adorning the cover are not necessarily anatomically correct, and do not show the physical reality of what is being depicted. The fact that cover is made of gold and precious jewels further reinforces the idea of this being a symbolic work, as they imply the value of the manuscripts contents. While the work is relatively small, its scale is grand. In the time that it was produced, the jewels and gold used to craft it would have been worth a kings ransom. What I found most interesting about the Lindau Gospels was pondering upon the intentions of whoever first sponsored its making, and why it was continually added to. In a time when grand tapestries and statues were prevalent, someone chose to adorn a small book with a small kingdoms worth in jewels. The motive behind this would be fascinating to uncover.

The Gero Crucifixion is much less of a symbol and much more of a depiction. Rather than a seemingly floating Jesus, we get a very clear depiction of Jesus hanging from a cross. The work is definitely designed to invoke feeling from the viewer, rather than to imply meaning to them.

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The Gero Crucifixion is a wooden carving dated to sometime around 970 A.D. It depicts Jesus, hanging on a cross, with a large golden sun as its backdrop. The Gero crucifix stands at about 73.6 inches tall. The Gero crucifix is powerful in its simplicity. It depicts a much more realistic Jesus than the Lindau gospels, but refrains from any superfluous detail the could detract from the message that it sends. The body of Jesus is much more anatomically correct, but lacks muscular definition, facial detail, and has abnormally large toes. The artist did not take after Greek and Roman naturalism, and in doing so created a piece that speaks through its effect, rather than its style.

While I really liked both pieces, I have to say that I am definitely more drawn to the Lindau Gospels. I feel that they have a much more unique story behind them, and one that is oozing with mystery. Their complexity sparks my imagination, and the process of creating a repoussé is much more unique than that of a wooden carving.

For my illuminations project, I am still figuring out what I would like to do. I have several of my favorite verses in mind, but I am being careful to find a scripture that will be complemented well by illumination. Some verses speak for themselves, and need no assistance. While some verses speak in a way that causes one to wonder, or to visualize. I am also trying my best to have my illumination be inspired by the verse, rather than by my research. Its really easy to see something that is very well done, and want to steer in that direction, rather than illuminating the scripture that I choose as meaningfully as possible.


The Lindau Gospels in Brilliant Light – Medieval Histories. (2016, March 02). Retrieved from http://www.medievalhistories.com/the-lindau-gospels-on-show/

Lindau Gospels. (2018, April 26). Retrieved from https://www.themorgan.org/collection/lindau-gospels

Catholic, R. (1970, January 01). The Radical Catholic. Retrieved from http://theradicalcatholic.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-gero-crucifix.html



3 thoughts on “Week 5: Stephen Allen”

  1. You wrote such thorough descriptions of each of the artworks. I like how you mentioned the Gero Crucifix is more of a depiction of Jesus than a symbol like in the Lindau Gospels. I agree that it shows Jesus hanging more compared to how He looks like he is floating on the cover of the Lindau Gospels. I like how you mentioned that the Gero crucifix is powerful due to its simplicity. I think you are going in the right direction with your illumination project! Good luck with it and great job on your blog post!


  2. You did a really great job describing both pieces and I enjoyed reading about your opinion! I had never noticed how large Jesus’ feet and toes were in the Gero Crucifix. That is an interesting observation! I wonder why his body is disproportionate? Maybe it is to emphasize the markings and nails in his feet? I really like that you are trying to find a scripture that is meaningful to you, and I hope you find what you are looking for!


  3. I hadn’t even thought of the converted value! You’re right, I would be very surprised to see who initially sponsored such a costly book in a time of statues. Great job in your descriptions, I even picked up a few extra facts from reading these.
    If it means anything, I think it would be cool to further illustrate a passage that might not be as clear. Excited to see your work!


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