What visual characteristics identify saints
What ocular features identify saints of holy individuals in the in-between ages and how are they distinguished from each other?
One of the most of import characteristics of the art of the in-between ages was the outgrowth of a consistent codification of iconography in both Western Christianity and within Eastern Orthodoxy. Often, these images differed in the types of spiritual iconography and association they offered, nevertheless, the function of iconography in saints remained typical during this period and among different churches of the period. This essay will look at a choice of mediaeval art and will try to correlate the similar iconographic tendencies in the representations of certain saints, and discourse why these representations were of import to the people of the mediaeval period.
The reliquary of St. Sebastian ( Museum # M-27-2001 ) demonstrates the importance in the 15Thursdaycentury medieval individual in tie ining with the representation a peculiar saint. Reliquaries were, on the one manus, tied to the icon of the saint – here Saint Sebastian is seen in a Christ-like airs against a tree, his face is similar to the classical word pictures of Christ and, unlike the original icons of Christ, his eyes are closed instead than open. This difference can be seen in the representation of Christ and Saint Christopher in the earlier figurine of Saint Christopher ( Museum # A. 2 – 1912 ) , where less accent is placed upon the agony of the saint ; here Saint Christopher and Christ are both seen smile in contentment, and suggests a displacement between picturing Saints as healthy, baronial figures to going figures of martyrdom. Similarly, the earlier figurine of Saint Christopher ( Museum # 374-1890 ) can be seen in a scenario that combines the yesteryear and the present ; nevertheless, the agony, bony face of Saint Christopher in this figurine can be seen echoed throughout the iconography of saints during this period of representational art. Cynthia Hahn suggests that the concluding behind these iconographic differentiations is mostly political and rhetorical: “The yesteryear and the site may be specific to the saint, but the purpose of the rhetoric of holiness is to fall in that past with a powerful present, full with the wagess of religion and [ … ] refulgent glory” ( Hahn, 1105 ) . As such, common thematic elements in angelic representation can be seen as a agency of uniting a peculiar image of the past – a “rhetoric of sanctity” – and doing it relevant to empathetic worship. Indeed, the presence of a distinguishable image of enduring both in the 2nd, ulterior image of St. Christopher and the Reliquery of St. Sebastian suggests that this image of Saintly martyrdom and agony was progressively a subject within the word picture of saints during that period. The relic and the catholicity of imagination within many of these images suggest that the constitution of a certain archetypal icon of saintliness was one of the cardinal purposes in set uping a incorporate, Western church distinguishable both politically and ideologically from Eastern orthodoxy. Bynum and Gerson suggest that “it is clear that relics became the particular venue of entree to the Godhead in Western Christianity” ( 3 ) . Indeed, the presence of a alone vocabulary of iconography, through word pictures of saintly martyrdom, mundane scenes crossed with fabulous events tended to divide the Eastern orthodox religious iconographical manner and the West.
Similarly, while male saints are often seen in active airss, either in Christ-like places of enduring or in images that depict the myths and feelings that they were used for, female saints appear to be in places of sitting, and are alternatively betrothed in finely embroidered apparels, and look to be simply presenting for spectacle. For illustration, in the figurine of Saint Cecilia ( Museum # 378-1890 ) , she is shown in a all right aureate frock and is notably inactive. While this echoes St. Cecilia’s place as the frequenter saint of instrumentalists, her fineries suggest the presence of a gendered difference between representations of active, enduring work forces and passive, beatific adult females. Again, this constitution of gendered originals tends to back up the sentiment that iconographic similarities between images are present to back up a peculiar, Christianity-endorsed tract to the Godhead through the exulting word picture of the present through emblems of the yesteryear. The singularity of the imagination is typified by Gregory Mellisanos’ reaction to Western iconography as compared to the East. “When I enter a Latin church, I do non idolize any of the [ images of ] saints that are at that place because I do non acknowledge any of them” ( Zeitler, 680 ) . As such, much of the importance of these spiritual images, such as Saint Christopher, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Cecilia was precise to the context of representation that the peculiar church ascribed to. The absence of acknowledgment by Gregory Mellisanos suggests the extent to which a universalised word picture of the holy individual has importance in the procedure of fear amongst the thickly settled of the Middle Ages. Zeitler suggests: “From a position which emphasises the functions of viewers’ socialization in their perceptual experience of imagination, Gergory’s comments suggest that the ‘visual competance’ of Orthodox viewing audiences was non contributing to deriving an apprehension of Latin imagery” ( 682 ) . Therefore, iconographical disagreements can offer us a expression into the relationship between the human person and the spiritual iconography that they revered.
The extent to which spiritual symbolism tended to reoccur in representations of saints during the Middle Ages, along with deficiency of comprehension between members of different churches suggests the cultural importance and significance of these repeating images in set uping a connexion between the human and the Godhead during this period. Indeed, iconographical representations of saintly enduring, along with the specificities of location and attributes in the characters represented tended towards a synergism of past and present that charged fear with empathy and association. This differed mostly from earlier iconographic word pictures of saintliness, which portrayed saints less as gaunt, classically Christ like emblems of empathy and human agony, and more as emblems of how to populate healthily. The difference between the first figurine of Saint Christopher and the 2nd suggest the extent to which Western iconography had come to rule and universalise images of the West. While the airs remains the same, the face itself has assumed a position of greater agony. The increased presence of cosmopolitan enduring among images of saints during this period of development in Western spiritual iconography suggests that the intent of such images and statues had shifted from one of fabulous, past-oriented storytelling, to images of enduring that facilitated the screening of empathy, fear and worship for the saint in inquiry.
( All images and statues discussed are from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Images are available fromwww.vam.ac.uk[ accessed 26 April 2007 ] )
Bynum, Caroline Walker & A ; Gerson, Paula, “Body-Part Reliquaries and Body Parts in the Middle Ages” ,Gesta,Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 3-7.
Hahn, Cynthia, “Seeing and Believing: The Construction of Sanctity in Early Medieval Saints’ Shrines.”Speculum,Vol. 72, No. 4, pp. 1079-1106.
Zeitler, Barbara, “Cross-Cultural Interpretations of Imagery in the Middle Ages” ,The Art Bulletin,Vol. 76, No. 4, pp. 680-694.