English Arts Part I

English Arts 1

English art, the art of Great Britain (excluding Celtic art). The historical, political and social peculiarities resulting from the island location promoted an art development with a distinctive character.

At all times, English art has received impulses from the mainland. After a short time, takeovers always led to restructuring in line with regional traditions and preferences. Conversely, influences of English art were also taken up on the continent. This is particularly true of book illumination from the Anglo-Saxon period and landscape and portrait painting since the middle of the 18th century.

Early Anglo-Saxon period

Architecture: The architecture of the early Anglo-Saxon period is based on Celtic traditions and ignored the structural relics of Roman times. The remains of Roman buildings were mostly destroyed and used as a quarry, so that only a few architectural monuments from this time have survived. At the beginning of the 11th century there were still wooden buildings in the Saxon settlement area (log church of Greensted, Essex; around 1013). With the introduction of Christianity (at the end of the 6th century) the first stone church buildings arose: simple floor plans, rectangular nave with an adjoining rectangular annex for the altar, heavy shapes, squat, rectangular western towers. The interiors are high, long and narrow and have mostly simple wooden ceilings, occasionally there are false vaults. From the 7th century are preserved, among other things. the churches of Escomb (Durham), Wing (Buckinghamshire) and Brixworth (Northamptonshire). Testimonies from the time between 700 and the Norman conquest in 1066 are, in addition to the tower-free structures, among others. of Saint Lawrence in Bradford-on-Avon (Wiltshire; early 8th century and early 10th century), the churches of Worth (Sussex; around 1000), Earles Barton (Northamptonshire; 10th century), Monkwearmouth (Durham; 9th or 10th century) and Saint Michael at Oxford (11th century).

Plastic: With the late 7th century, plastic opened up a heyday in England that went up to the Norman conquest. A large number of stone crosses (high crosses by Ruthwell, before 684, and Bewcastle, at the end of the 7th century) emerged from the synthesis of indigenous tradition with Christian-Mediterranean adoptions. Originally Romanizing-Byzantinizing with figurative representations (biblical scenes and scenes from the legend of saints), the style of the crosses finally changed after several intermediate stages to a style of pure Nordic ornamentation. In addition to these testimonies of monumental open-air sculpture, individual pieces from a richly developed small art (especially gold and silversmith work) have been preserved from the early Anglo-Saxon period.

Painting: Long after the decline of Celtic art on the mainland and the subsidence of the island Celtic continuation of this art (around the middle of the 2nd century), there was an independent late development in the area of ​​the British Isles, characterized by Anglo-Saxon influences. Illumination was introduced in Ireland, Northumbria and Scotland around 700a bloom that soon spread to the southern part of the British mother island and – mediated by Irish and Anglo-Saxon monks – also had a strong influence on the mainland’s office in the 8th century. The earliest example of this Irish-Anglo-Saxon art is the Book of Durrow (Dublin, Trinity College) from 660–80, which is followed by a number of important island manuscripts. In the Book of Durrow, in addition to large initials and full-page evangelist symbols, pure decorative pages appear at the beginning of the Gospel texts, with braided ribbon ornaments and trumpet spirals dominating. In his successor is the so-called Echternach Willibrord Gospels (before 690; Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France), which came to the European mainland in the course of the missionary work. Eadfrith of Lindisfarne (before 698; London, British Library). The manuscripts of Wearmouth-Jarrow are clearly influenced by Italian models, among which the Codex Amiatinus (before 716; Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana) occupies a prominent position. The late antique tradition in Canterbury also gained great importance. Her is a. attributed to the Stockholm Codex aureus (around 750; Stockholm, Royal Library), in which the Anglo-Saxon braided ribbon ornament was combined with large-format evangelist images. At the end of the book illumination of the 7th and 8th centuries stands the Book of Kells (probably after 800; Dublin, Trinity College), a splendid codex richly illuminated with miniatures and ornaments.

According to beautypically.com, the most important English school of book illumination of the 10th and 11th centuries, which was based on Carolingian models and was probably also influenced by the Utrecht Psalter, is the Winchester School. In addition to the transformation of the Carolingian acanthus ornament into the so-called “Winchester acanthus”, the sometimes strongly illusionistic style is characteristic. One of the main works is the Benediktionale (liturgical book containing ecclesiastical blessings) by Bishop Aethelwold, written between 971 and 984(London, British Library). Illumination of this time shows close connections to the few surviving examples of wall painting (e.g. parish church in Nether Wallop near Winchester, around 1000) and to the gold and silversmith’s art at the same time.

English Arts 1