The magnificent bronze doors of Hildesheim Cathedral, the ivory, gold, enameled, and bejeweled book covers made to contain superbly illuminated manuscripts, the startling reliquary caskets made in the shape of the part of the body supposed to be contained within them—these and other sacred objects were contained within church treasuries and cloisters in the early Middle Ages in Europe. This beautiful book traces the development of these so-called Minor Arts and the major role they played alongside the other pictorial arts and architectural sculpture of the period.
Although it is impossible to establish a strict chronology of this period, since styles evolved concurrently and with varying speed across diverse regions of Europe, Peter Lasko has established an object-based chronology that enables him to trace the developments of these styles. In addition, he describes the personalities, stylistic traits, and influence of some of the great craftsmen whose names are briefly recorded in cathedral treasury records. He surveys the sacred arts from Scandinavia to Spain and from Italy to England, examining the impact of English art on the court of Charlemagne and investigating external influences on English art both before and after the Norman Conquest. Lasko records the wide range of opinions on style and method and also explicates his own; his comprehensive survey of craftsmanship alters previous assumptions about chronologies, creates new groupings of materials, and reassesses stylistic sources.
Peter Lasko is professor emeritus, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London.
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