Self-representation in the three-dimensional arts: a study of Italia and Germania, CA 800 - CA 1200
Gordusenko, Mariia Ivanovna
This thesis is a study of self-representation in sculpture in the Middle Ages. The research offers a new interpretation of the uses of self-representation by practitioners working in various three-dimensional media active in medieval Italia and Germania before the twelfth century. An analysis of a series of case studies provides evidence for investigating issues hitherto often overlooked, including literacy, devotion, skill, craftsmanship, commemoration and identity. Emphasis is placed on visual analysis of the case studies. Sculptors’ self-representations, integrated within these religious objects produced for use in Christian practice, are identifiable either through inscriptions or documentary evidence. This thesis applies interdisciplinary methodologies to explore practical, devotional and cultural functions of the case studies. It combines iconological and iconographic approaches to indicate cultural connections and exchange between European regions, where my examples are found. The roles of artists and patrons and their mobility, and the continuity of self-representational tradition from antiquity to the Middle Ages are considered to provide necessary background context to this enquiry. The topics of sculptors’ iconography, literacy and social standing have not received systematic attention in previous scholarship. However, this analysis of sculptors’ self-representations demonstrates that certain iconographic codes existed already in the early medieval period. Iconographic analysis of one of the examples indicates affiliation of the sculptor with lay brothers. Insufficiently studied to date, this social group receives thorough attention in this thesis. In other examples, signed self-representations accurately specify sculptors’ professional titles and social positions. This thesis also demonstrates that the me fecit-signatures are indicative of sculptors’ authorship and literacy. Having established this, this enquiry challenges the misleading impression of medieval artists’ anonymity popular in early scholarship. It also proposes that sculptors’ self-representations should not be perceived in a standardised way. The case studies reflect social diversity of early medieval sculptors’ community on both sides of the Alps. They encompass individuality of their authors, ensure devotional expression and serve as a means of communication between sculptors, their contemporaries and further generations. The thesis opens new perspectives for understanding of early medieval sculptors and their work.
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