Manuscript illumination in Ottonian and early Salian St Gall: iconography, liturgy and devotion
This study explores the production of illuminated manuscripts in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Abbey of St Gall, Switzerland, in the period c. 975-1075. Although this monastic institution witnessed a celebrated era of cultural splendour in the ninth century as part of the Carolingian Renaissance, the subsequent Ottonian and early Salian periods represent today an overlooked phase of St Gall’shistory that nonetheless yielded a number of lavishly decorated liturgical manuscripts with full-page scenes, often displaying complex pictorial programmes and innovative iconographies. The first chapter analyses the creation of the Hartker Antiphonary, the oldest illuminated antiphonary with full-page scenes in medieval Europe, its authorship, iconographic particularities, and the impact of the challenging historical circumstances that surrounded the manuscript’s production around the year 1000. The second chapter is devoted to the Sigebert Sacramentary, a monumental and luxurious tool for the Mass, which, as part of the largest manuscript commission documented in Ottonian Germany,was created around the year 1025 for an external patron, the well-connected Bishop Sigebert of Minden. Four Eucharistic manuscripts, three sacramentaries and a gradual, are the subjects of the third chapter, which explores the contemporary manufacture, decoration, and subsequent ritual uses of these books in a monastic context such as St Gall around the year 1050. All three chapters also discuss the devotional inscriptions that accompanied many of these images, therefore permitting a glimpse into the perception of both books and scenes in the eleventh century. The regular liturgical practices of St Gall in this period and the study of important treatises on the liturgy and its symbolism provide a basis to understand the creation of these manuscripts and the meaning that these often innovative iconographies once had amongst an original audience. This latter task is also enhanced by the constant use of wider exegetical readings, paying special attention to authors documented in the collections of the abbey library and highly influential Carolingian scholarship.