Medieval European Art


European Art, also known as Western Art has influenced the art world since the 3rd millennium BC. Each time period has various pieces of art that define what life was like during that specific time period. Take the Medieval times for example, which can be broken up into four categories: Byzantine, Early Medieval, Romanesque, and Gothic. Though much of the Medieval European Art had similar underlying tones, each category adds its own unique perspective to the life and times of Medieval Europe.

At the onset Byzantine European Art merged with Early Christian Art, where all art forms were funded by or influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Around the year 843 AD, a significant change happened leaving Early Christian Art behind, giving room for Byzantine Art to open its wings. Byzantine Art is commonly interchanged with Eastern Orthodox European Art, because it was centered in the Byzantine Empire consisting of Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia and other surrounding countries.

Early Medieval European Art is commonly referred to as Migration Period Art because it came about during the time when the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon tribes were moving into former Roman territories. During this time European art saw a mixing pot effect, blending Celtic, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon art styles to form Hiberno-Saxon or Insular Art. The Book of Durrow is considered to be the first major work of art produced by the Hiberno-Saxon art form in the late 7th Century.

Forming around 1000 AD, Romanesque European Art was the first known form of coherent art that was the same or similar all throughout Europe. Romanesque Art was named as such by 19th Century historians because this art formed brought back a lot of the basic design concepts of the Roman Empire. High Relief carvings, columns, leaves and round-headed arches were the main artistic forms borrowed from the Roman Era. However Romanesque European Art also blended Byzantine and Early Medieval Art into its designs, creating a very unique conglomeration of all of Europe’s history.

Gothic Art began in France with architecture around 1140 AD and included painting by approximately 1200 AD. The Gothic European Art Form replaced Romanesque completely by the 13th Century when it became widely used not only in European art but around the world. The term Gothic meant Barbaric and was meant as an insult to the style. During this time Gothic art works were referred to as “French Work”, ensuring that the world would blame Gothic Art on the French. Yet Gothic Art swept across the world, influencing everything from the construction of Universities, the interiors and exteriors of existing and newly built cathedrals to banks and common shops.