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Buy 2 or more classes at the same time and save 25% off the total.

Marvels of the Middle Ages

Save 25% when purchasing this with other classes from this Fall's semester.


Instructor: Lynn Ostling
Mondays, April 8 – April 29, 3:00 – 5:00 PM, Berger Center
4-week session. Cost:  $65

Course Description:
Great works of medieval art have the power to awe and astonish us even today. What was life like in Europe, in the one thousand years from approximately 400 to 1400 AD? What were the religious and cultural forces at work in this society? This series will explore the European medieval world through masterpieces of art and architecture. We’ll also explore distinctive art media such as encaustic, mosaic, stained glass, egg tempera, and fresco painting.

Course Details:
The four-session series begins with the development of early Christian art in two widely differing traditions: Byzantine iconography and Celtic manuscript painting. We’ll also explore diverse media such as encaustic, mosaic, and egg tempera. The second session focuses on the “age of pilgrimage” after the year 1000 AD, and takes us to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain, with a detour into the Islamic world of southern Spain. Our third session concentrates on the Gothic style in architecture and the development of stained glass as a unique art form. The final session takes us to Italy in the early 1300s, where Giotto’s innovative fresco paintings foreshadow the coming of the Renaissance.

Week I:  Origins of Christian Art

  1. the evolution of early Christian art
  • influences from Roman and Egyptian tradition
  • early Christian symbolism and imagery
  • mosaic in Roman and early Christian usage
  • Constantine’s new capital at Byzantium
  1. icons and iconoclasm: the Byzantine tradition
  • early icons; encaustic as a medium
  • the Iconoclastic Controversy
  • the golden age of Byzantine art
  1. Celtic design and manuscript illumination
  • pre-Christian origins: La Tene, Viking interlace
  • techniques of manuscript illumination
  • Book of Durrow, Echternach Gospels, Lindisfarne Gospels, Book of Kells

SESSION II:  The Age of Pilgrimage

  1. Charlemagne and the synthesis of early medieval art
  • Aachen and the Carolingian Renaissance
  • Charlemagne’s bronze equestrian figure
  • didactic manuscripts combine Byzantine and Celtic imagery
  1. relics, reliquaries and pilgrimage
  • development of the cult of relics
  • the year 1000, when the world did not end
  • development of Romanesque pilgrimage church architecture
  1. on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela
  • the great pilgrimage routes
  • Vezelay, Autun, Moissac, Conques
  • across northern Spain to Santiago
  • the cathedral and the botafumeiro
  1. a detour into Islamic Spain
  • background: Islamic art and architecture
  • the Great Mosque at Cordoba
  • the Alhambra, Granada

SESSION III:  Gothic Splendor

  1. the beginnings of Gothic architecture
  • the cult and veneration of the Virgin Mary
  • essential elements: ribbed groin vault, ogival arch, flying buttress
  • symbolism of stained glass
  1. Chartres Cathedral: the perfection of the Gothic style
  • the west façade; fire of 1194; the Sancta Camisa
  • the cathedral rebuilt: transept sculptures
  • interior: vaulting, stained glass, the labyrinth
  1. the international Gothic style
  • England: Salisbury, Wells, Kings College Chapel
  • Italy: Siena, Milan
  • France: Reims, Beauvais, St. Chapelle
  • why did Notre Dame burn?

SESSION IV:  The Dawning of the Renaissance

  1. masters of the Trecento
  • Cimabue, Duccio and Giotto
  • the art of egg tempera painting
  • three enthroned Madonnas, compared
  • Giotto and the creation of spatial depth
  1. the Arena Chapel at Padua
  • Enrico Scrovegni’s conscience
  • the plan of the chapel: three zones, prefigurations
  • the art of fresco painting
  1. Giotto’s revolutionary achievements
  • figural space: wedding at Cana, last supper
  • humanism: birth of Jesus, kiss of Judas
  • composition: raising of Lazarus, entry into Jerusalem, lamentation
  • synthesis: the Last Judgment
  • grim reality: the plague of 1348

Instructor Biography:

Lynn Ostling is a retired professor of Art History who taught at Sonoma State and Santa Rosa Junior College for over 30 years. Ms. Ostling graduated with honors from Stanford University, and completed her graduate work at UC Berkeley, specializing in Classical Greek and Renaissance studies. Over the years, Ms. Ostling has made many presentations on the lecture circuit and on television. She is also a published author on a variety of topics in the field of Art History.