Medieval Art History
Medieval Wood Carving
Ever since man has had the ability to fashion wood tools and weapons they have been carving them to have designs and be unique from all the others. Wood carvings can be on almost any wooden object from pipe stems to furniture and even the more complicated: church doors. In the first 11 centuries or so in human history very significant wood carvings are very rare. Wood is a very flexible and easy to manipulate material, but is very delicate and can be easily burned, warped or broken unlike stone, this is why old wood carvings are very rare. However the main doors of the Basilica of Saint Sabina on Aventine Hill in Rome date back to the 11th Century. The doors have several panels carved into depicting several scenes from the Old and New testaments from the bible. Wood carvers had several tools in their arsenal and go through a very long and tedious process depending on how complex and detailed their carvings get. Wood that is going to be carved is usually cut and rough-hewed with axes, saws, and knives. They then use gouges, chisels, drills, and knives for the actual carving. Pieces are then finished with rasps, files, and sandpaper. Carvings may be painted or gilded directly on the surface or over a layer of cloth or plaster, or the wood may be left in its natural state and polished. In northern Europe wood carving has been a very important art medium. It is especially important in nautical areas. Many warships had wood carvings all around the hull on the mast and at the front of the ship. They often designed their ships with violent images to strike fear into their enemies. This was very popular among the vikings. The Man-O-War ships used by Spain, England and France were not only deadly war ships but were an exemplary display of wood carving and design at its finest with many intricate designs all around the outside of the ship. In the Gothic Period most of...