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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:52

Video transcript

we're here at the International Congress on medieval studies at Kalamazoo and we're looking at the mo Gospels and this is Matthew from the fo Gospels dated around 8:28 30s what we see here is the Evangelist composing his gospel book hunched over writing very energetically something that makes this gospel book particularly interesting is this charged energetic very expressive style in contrast to the more modeled images of even the same period and especially of late antique and classical painting you can see he's writing with his stylus so we see medieval materials at work here and how medieval people wrote with one hand with the stylus the other hand with an ink horn sometimes when I see images and medieval manuscripts of people writing I also see one hand holding a stylus and the other hand holding a knife which holds the page down and it is interesting he's writing in a codex which became popular with the advent of Christianity the life of the Codex or book is we know it took off with Christianity you mentioned these I think of them as frenzied lines and we think of this book and we think of this artist the evil master and we think of these frenzied crazy lines and when I think of this I think of Utrecht Salter and that these lines must have been how Carolingian artists interpreted classical drawing style but I think it's also interesting because this is a distinct style in contrast to other Carolingian works and we see a little classically inspired landscape with buildings in the upper part again a very classical motif we should note Matthews attribute up in the upper right-hand corner which is a winged man each of the Gospel writers has their own attribute which is related to the book of Revelation and the four epochal intent be yeah the four apocalyptic beasts and then very early on in Christianity this gets associated with the Gospel writers Matthew is the winged man mark is the lion Luke is the bowl and John is the eagle when we use the term Carolingian what we really mean is art at the time of Charlemagne Charlemagne was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in the year 800 and he was a really big reformer he engaged in art reform by encouraging artists and scribes to study and copy the artistic and writing styles of ancient books and those styles were more naturalistic kind of unlike most medieval artists and Charlemagne was particularly interested in reviving the artistic styles that were used in the early Christian period and particularly those associated with the Roman Emperor Constantine with Carolingian art we see artists trying to wrestle with issues of perspective and trying to bring back a greater sense of realistically representing figures in three dimensions and I see several ways in which the artist is trying to do that one of them is that when we're looking at the leg here and I see all this highlighting which is bringing the leg forward to us where this frenzied line style allows for a lot of highlighting and shadowing and the shadows recede so I see the artist wrestling with trying to give us a more three-dimensional view of Matthew well at the same time the artist is missing badly in the footstool here and it's very strange position in relation to where Matthew is actually sitting yeah and this awkward flattening there's no foreshortening attempted in the stand for the book and it effectively presents the book to the viewer in an interesting way and I think does emphasize the act of writing and composition which is of course important for an evangelist you