Looking at both the Lindau Gospel’s cover and the Gero Crucifix, both have depictions of Jesus Christ on the cross. But between the two pieces of art, there is a stark difference in the representation of Christ. The Lindau cover depicts Christ of Carolingian means – he is on the cross as if he is standing upright. His arms are outstretched as if he is floating/defying gravity or standing tall and mighty. It conveys the idea that Christ does not suffer – the only pain that He may experience is the signs of the pierced palms with small amounts of blood. This is in stark contrast to the Christ depicted in the Gero Crucifix. This piece of work has a more realistic touch to it – the only thing keeping Christ up are the nails hammered into his hands and feet. He hangs limp on the cross, with his head hung low. There is a lot of suffering and defeat in this depiction of Christ.
The upper cover of Lindau Gospel was created around 875 and is decorated in gold and precious stones. The cover was created in the eastern part of current-day France. While the cover was created around 875, the manuscript itself was not created until about 10-20 years later. Adding to its complexity, the manuscript is laced with silks from the Middle East. The manuscript includes the four gospels.
The precious stones and gold may seem like a concern for idolatry; however, since this piece of art is located on the front cover of the manuscript, it is used as a means of connection to the text. The intricate placement of the stones (pearls, rubies, emeralds) and the gold are meant to represent the treasured scenery mentioned in the book of Revelation. The 12 gates with the twelve pearls and the city of gold decorated in precious stones are all depicted on the front cover. The outline of the cross also has a physical representation. The cross looks like the outline of a church.
The style of art used in this piece seems to have been influenced by the Classical Greek art. The drapery over Jesus shows the detailed wrinkling of the drapery. The figures themselves were hammered from the inside. This is a complete change of style from the Byzantine era where the depictions were all 2-D.
The Gero Crucifix, sculpted around 970, was the first sculpted depiction of the crucified Christ. Much larger than the cover of the Lindau Gospel, the Gero Crucifix stands at almost six and a half feet tall. Like the cover, it has the drapery over Christ with the ruffling. There are elements of the Byzantine style, with the halo with the cross in the middle behind Christ.
The style in which the body of Christ is depicted is something that is new. It does not resemble Greek or Roman sculptures where the bodies are muscular, nor does it fit into the Byzantine flat style. This crucifix has a lot of naturalism in how the body hangs and how the body is carved.
While looking at the two different pieces of work, I personally liked the Gero Crucifix more. While the cover of the Lindau Gospels was very captivating, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of stones embedded. I felt like it was a little too much for me to look at all at once. Noticing the differences between how Christ is portrayed, I liked how the Gero Crucifix encapsulates the pain and suffering Christ endured. It makes the crucifixion a lot more tangible and why Jesus gave up His life and suffered for us all. The simplicity of the Gero Crucifixion allows me to focus on Christ and not the “materialistic” stones on the cover. I understand the reasoning behind the jewels on the cover of the Lindau Gospels, but to me that just detracts away from Christ. I also didn’t particularly enjoy how Christ was depicted, as if the cross did not cause suffering.
For the illumination project I’m not quite sure which verse to do yet, but I’m thinking about Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.
Those two aren’t my two favorite verses of all time, but I still like them. I think if I do Matthew, I might have some imagery of a crown and symbolisms of a kingdom. As for the verse from Isaiah, the imagery of strength and a strong rock comes to mind.
Ashmole, Bernard, and John R. Spencer. “Western Sculpture.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Feb. 2018
Norman, Jeremy. “The Magnificent Upper Cover of the Lindau Gospels (Circa 875).” History of Science, 8 June 2018
Lauer, Rolf. “Gero Crucifix, circa 970.” Koelner-Dom Cologne Cathedral
“The Lindau Gospels in Brilliant Light .” Medieval Histories, Medieval Histories, 2 Mar. 2016
Ross, Nancy, and Steven Zucker. “Lindau Gospels Cover.” Khan Academy, Khan Academy, 9 Apr. 2013