Week 6: Jackie Hirai

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The Lindau Gospels is in the Morgan Library and Museum. The manuscript’s name comes from the Abbey of Lindau, which is the place where it used to be located. It is Carolingian and most likely made for Charlemagne’s grandson. All of the elements of this book come from a variety of places and time periods. The back cover is from the late 8thcentury around 784 making it the oldest part of the text and probably was created somewhere in Austria (Lindau Gospels, 2018). The front cover is almost created a hundred years after the back cover around 880 probably in France. The cover is layered with jewels and has gold binding resulting it to be considered a medieval treasure (Lindau Gospels, 2018). The actual text part of the book is thought to not have been written until even later around 880. The manuscript has the 4 Gospels with other material, such as the 12 illuminated canon tables (Lindau Gospels, 2018).

The cross around Christ has arches along the border. The structure and shape of it resembles the blueprints of a basilica. The types of jewels used were inspired by the description of the gates of Jerusalem in Revelation 21:19-21, “The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The twelve gates were twelve pearls….,” and, “the great street of the city was of gold….” (Lindau Gospels Cover, 2018). The artist used the technique called repoussé to create the body of Jesus and the people mourning His death, which is when objects or figures are hammered from the inside. (Lindau Gospels Cover, 2018). This piece shows the complicated affiliation artists had with the Classical tradition.

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The Gero Crucifix is a representation of Christ made out of wood. It was a donation made by Archbishop Gero around 970 A.D. (The Radical Catholic, 2014). It used to be placed at Gero’s grave. It is now in Chapel of the cross and was relocated there about 1350. It was created around 970. This piece is thought to represent the new era for artwork. It is one of the oldest sculptures to have survived all these years and one of the most famous, earliest pieces of the crucifixion of Christ.

This piece depicts the crucified Jesus in a larger scale compared to the Lindau Gospels. Along with its size, some of the latest features for Western art at this time were used in this piece such as, rounding of shapes and showing the degree of suffering the figures were experiencing in the artwork (History of Art: Architecture and Sculpture, 2018).  It is an Ottonian sculpture. It is one of the first artworks to show Jesus being dead. It has Jesus hanging on a golden cross with the sun behind it (History of Art: Architecture and Sculpture, 2018). Unlike the rest of the elements in the piece, Jesus is painted in brown tones.


The Lindau Gospels represents the crucified Christ as more of a symbol. The artist was not as worried with the fine details resulting in Jesus not looking anatomically correct. Along with smoothed out features with no defined anatomy, Jesus’ lower half is draped with a cloth, which are both elements of the Classical period of art. Like many other artists, the artist of the cover was trying to revive the Classical tradition during this time period. It looks like Jesus is depicted on the cross without a sense of gravity. His body does not seem to be hanging, but instead looks like he is lying flat. There is no sense of him being in any sort of pain besides a drop of blood dripping from his hands. His stance and facial expression represent him being proud without any response to the pain he is undergoing. The background of the cover is very busy with all of the jewels and other figures mourning Jesus’ crucifixion.

The Gero Crucifix represents the crucified Christ in a simpler way. The artist did not have a lot of components going on in the piece like the artist who made the front cover of the Lindau Gospels. Jesus is in the center without any other figures around it. The artist made it, so Jesus would stand out more by painting Him shades of brown and leaving the other parts of the piece gold. It helps him look more lifelike compared to the golden Jesus in the Lindau Gospels. His head downward, arms stretched out, depressed facial expression, and bulging stomach help to show that He is suffering and in pain.

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I found it interesting that the back cover of the Lindau Gospels was the earliest part of the manuscript to be made, but the front cover is the one that is discussed more. It was also interesting to see elements used with Classical artwork in the cover like drapery. I like how multiple styles and cultures were used in the piece. I think it gives it a refined look. I thought the contrasting size and amount of detail used in the Gero Crucifix compared to the Lindau Gospels was interesting. I think it showed how the style of art changed during the gap of years between the two pieces.

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I think both pieces are amazing, but I am more drawn to the Gero Crucifix. I like the simplicity of the piece because it allows Jesus to have all of the attention. The use of gold is very beautiful. I love the sun that is behind the cross. My favorite part of the piece is the amount of emotion seen in Jesus’ face and body. It really emphasizes the amount of pain He went through to save us, which I think is amazing.

I have been trying to think more about what I would like to do for my illuminated manuscript. I think I am going to create a manuscript inspired by the passage of either Proverbs 16:24, “kind words are like honey — sweet for the soul and healthy for the body” or Psalm 119:105, “your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” I haven’t decided which one to do yet. I picked them because they are two of my favorite verses and I think they could work well in an illuminated manuscript.



History of Art: Architecture and Sculpture. (2018). Retrieved July 10, 2018, from http://www.all-art.org/Architecture/9-3.htm

Lindau Gospels. (2018, April 26). Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.themorgan.org/collection/lindau-gospels

Lindau Gospels Cover. (2018). Retrieved July 10, 2018, from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/medieval-world/carolingian1/v/lindau-gospels-cover

The Lindau Gospels in Brilliant Light – Medieval Histories. (2016, March 02). Retrieved July 10, 2018, from http://www.medievalhistories.com/the-lindau-gospels-on-show/

The Radical Catholic. (2014, September 12). The Radical Catholic Blog. Retrieved July 10, 2018, from The Gero Crucifix: http://theradicalcatholic.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-gero-crucifix.html


3 thoughts on “Week 6: Jackie Hirai”

  1. Jackie, both Bible verses would work really well for the illumination project! Do you know what colors you might use for you illumination?

    I agree with you that the Gero Crucifix is simple, but it allows Jesus to be the center of attention. I think that there is a lot of detail on Jesus’ face even though this sculpture does not look complex. I think the realism seen in this sculpture really provides a reminder of what Jesus has done for us.


    1. Thanks! I am leaning towards the passage from Proverbs. I’m thinking about using yellow tones to go along with the honey theme of the verse.


  2. I feel like a treasure chest full of sparkling, valuable items was just poured on the Lindau Gospels cover, so it makes perfect sense on why it is considered a medieval treasure. I read about the connections it had to the Revelation bible verses also, which I think is very cool. I like how you included information about the back of the gospels; I didn’t; see anything about it in my research! I love the Bible verses you are going to use for your illumination manuscript and am excited to see the final result 🙂


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