Displaying its “treasure chest” cover, the Lindau Gospels are now part of a collection in the Morgan Library and Museum. There are many different layers to this manuscript and inspirations from different time periods. The inside contains the four Gospels (of course) and also prologues of Jerome, a preface for each Gospel, and twelve illuminated canon tables (The Morgan Library & Museum). The outside of the object shows jewels, pearls, gold, and several different figures. The center figure is Christ and there are also mourning angels seen in the four corners. Christ is seen as tall and proud, showing minimal suffering except for the blood coming from the nails in his hands. His appearance of showing no pain and displaying his divine nature is is Caronlingian and this word means “of Charmlemagne”. It is said that the Lindau Gospels were made for Charlemagne’s grandson or Charles the Bald (Ross & Zucker, 2015). Anyways, this art attempts to revive the drapery style of the Classical Period while also using Middle Eastern styles with color.
While the Lindau Gospels can be held with two hands, the Gero Crucifix stands at six feet tall and is a “monstrous cross of wood” (Lauer). Christ on this piece of artwork has his head bowed and eyes closed. There is a sense of pain as his body responds to the weight of gravity. This cross was originally donated by Archbishop Gero and stood at his grave, but now, it is currently on the eastern wall of the Chapel of the Cross and is the first monumental sculpture of the crucified Christ still existing (Lauer). Even though a layer of paint was applied in 1904, his body remains in a suffering position.
Compared to the Lindau Gospels, the Gero Crucifix is very simple in appearance. There are only about three shades of color largely seen from afar: blue, browns, and gold. Looking closer, there are jewels found in the halo around his head, but these jewels are scarce compared to what is seen on the cover of the Lindau Gospels. The manuscript’s cover is very intricately crafted and is very busy. Lots of gold, jewels, and pearls are used, giving it the essence of a incredible piece of treasure. The structure was very carefully thought out; Khan Academy pointed out that the arches forming the cross resembled a basilica structure which is amazing. A technique called “repousse” was used for the gold figures which means they hammered them from the inside instead of carving them on the outside.
I was very interested in the different depictions of Christ in these two objects. The Lindau Gospels show his as strong and of the divine nature while the Gero Crucifix shows him as a human being who is suffering from humiliation and pain. Christ is made out of gold in the Lindau Gospels, but he is carved out of wood for the Crucifix. There is more of an emphasis on Christ himself in the crucifix because he is large, and the center of attention, with little distractions. I really like the golden sun behind him because it illuminates his body and posture even more. However, when looking at the Lindau Gospels, it is easy to glance at Christ and quickly shift focus to the jewels and other figures because there is so much to see.
This being said, I was most drawn to the Lindau Gospels because the cover grabs my attention more than the crucifix. Not only are more colors used, but there is also the sparkle of the jewels and detailed structure to be noticed. I’m sure a lot of effort went into the creation of both objects, but I was more impressed with the cover of the Lindau Gospels. Maybe that’s because we humans have a natural attraction to items of high value… Even though the crucifix is simpler and more focused than the Lindau Gospels cover, I find colorful, detailed things more aesthetic.
Since it’s near the beginning of the week, I haven’t put a ton of thought into my Illumination Project yet, but after watching the videos and reading about the manuscripts, I have a couple ideas. I want to use gold paper (if I can find some) in part of my project because I think it looks awesome. Some of the illuminated manuscripts I saw were of an initial, so I was thinking of using a letter that stands for many different words that have meaning to me and writing them in that cool Latin letter font around the initial. I’ll also have a border that follows the Northern European artwork style. My plans are subject to change, but those are the thoughts in my head so far.
Lauer, R. Kolner Dom. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from Gero Crucifix, circa 970: https://www.koelner-dom.de/rundgang/bedeutendewerke/gero-crucifix-circa-970/info/?L=1
Lindau Gospels. (2018, April 26). Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.themorgan.org/collection/lindau-gospels
Ross, N. & Zucker, S. “Lindau Gospels cover”. Smarthistory. December 10, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2018 from https://smarthistory.org/lindau-gospels-cover/.