Boy, art history keeps me on my toes! If I ever start to feel too comfortable in my knowledge of an artistic period, I get knocked off of my feet again by discovering some new theories! Here are two new(ish) theories that I recently have learned about Romanesque art:
Last Judgment tympanum (c. 1120-1130 or 1130-1145; see detail image on right). It sure seems like Gislebertus was the sculptor based on that inscription, right? It was unusual for Romanesque sculptors to sign their work, so Gislebertus has received quite a bit of attention and recognition in the art historical world.
However, Seidel argues that Gislebertus wasn't a sculptor at all. She finds that he was a late Carolingian count who might have contributed financially to the Autun Cathedral. Count Gislebertus made significant contributions to local churches, and his name might have been included in the tympanum in remembrance of his patronage. Seidel even goes further to suggest that this inscription may "challenge those in power to respect and continue the venerable tradition of patronage."1 For more information, I would recommend Seidel's book, "Legends in Limestone: Lazarus, Gislebertus, and the Cathedral of Autun" (1999, University of Chicago Press). I haven't read Seidel's book myself yet, but I look forward to checking it out. I think this theory is quite compelling.
And regardless of whether Gislebertus is an artist or count, I "heart" him all the same.
THEORY #2 - HILDEGARD AS ARTIST:
All joking aside, I'm very interested in the new(ish) theory regarding the Liber Scivias. This book is a text that contains descriptions and illustrations of Hildegard of Bingen's visions. This theory by Madeline Caviness proposes that Hildegard might have been the designer for the illustrations for her visions. Caviness supports her argument in two ways: 1) She finds that these depictions of visions of very unconventional and 2) She thinks these designs also conform to some of the "visionary" aspects that are experienced by people during migraines.2 Hildegard had migraines throughout her life, but especially during the period when she was composing the Scivias.
I hope I can get my hands on a copy of Caviness article; I'd like to learn what "visionary" aspects of these illustrations compare with the effects produced by migraines. More information can be read in Caviness' article, "Hildegard as the Designer of the Illustrations of her Works" (1998, Warburg Institute).
"Hildegard and Volmar" image courtesy of Wikipedia.
"Vision of the Angelic Hierarchy" image courtesy of Wikipedia.
1 Stokstad, Art History (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2011), 478.
2 Ibid., 487.