Romanesque Art

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16. Discuss four characteristics of Romanesque art. Give examples.

The Romanesque art period started from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is known as the Pre-Romanesque. The term was invented by 19th century art historians, which retained many basic features of Roman architectural style. Mostly round-headed arches, as well as barrel vaults, apses, and acanthus-leaf decoration but had also developed many very different characteristics. The Romanesque style was the first style to impact the whole of Catholic Europe, from Denmark to Sicily.

Romanesque art consisted of sculptures, made out of metal, enamel, and ivory work. Metals were a very high status in this period, much more than the paintings. Metal sculptures included enamel decorations, for example The Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral by Nicholas of Verndun. It is said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men. The shrine is a large gilded and decorated triple sarcophagus placed above and behind the high altar of Cologne Cathedral. It is the largest reliquary, which is known as a shrine, in the western world. Another example of Romanesque metal work is the Cloisters Cross. It is an unusually complex 12th century ivory Romanesque altar cross in The Cloisters. The cross is carved from walrus ivory and measures 22 5/8 by 14 1/4 inches. The carvings that are covering both the front and the back contain ninety-two carved figures and ninety-eight inscriptions. The figures, each of which is only about one-half inch tall, illustrate a number of Biblical scenes.

Aside form the sculptures Romanesque art was known for its wall paintings. The large wall surfaces and plain, curving vaults of the Romanesque period lent themselves to mural decoration. Many of the early wall paintings have been destroyed by moisture and some walls have...
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