"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Crusades and Art

Those of us who listen to the rhetoric emanating out of ISIS will have heard their ritualistic invocation of "the Crusaders" and been amazed at the fatuous anachronism involved in using that epithet to describe modern Western nation-states, including the United Kingdom and United States whose motives--whatever they are--have nothing to do with advancing Christianity at the expense of Islam. Anyone--Muslim or especially Christian--who thinks that is simply delusional.

Perhaps more than any other phenomenon in Western history, the Crusades are, as I have often noted on here over the years, the most consistently, tendentiously, and deliberately distorted and misunderstood of all controversial struggles. Books continue to examine the Crusades from many angles. A new book does likewise, moving into a relatively understudied area: art history and the Crusades: Elizabeth Lapina et al, eds., The Crusades and Visual Culture (Ashgate, 2016), 288pp.

About this scholarly collection, we are told:
The crusades, whether realized or merely planned, had a profound impact on medieval and early modern societies. Numerous scholars in the fields of history and literature have explored the influence of crusading ideas, values, aspirations and anxieties in both the Latin States and Europe. However, there have been few studies dedicated to investigating how the crusading movement influenced and was reflected in medieval visual cultures. Written by scholars from around the world working in the domains of art history and history, the essays in this volume examine the ways in which ideas of crusading were realized in a broad variety of media (including manuscripts, cartography, sculpture, mural paintings, and metalwork). Arguing implicitly for recognition of the conceptual frameworks of crusades that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries, the volume explores the pervasive influence and diverse expression of the crusading movement from the twelfth through the fifteenth centuries.
The publisher also gives us the table of contents:

Introduction, Elizabeth Lapina, April Jehan Morris, Susanna A. Throop, and Laura J. Whatley; The Frankish icon: art and devotion in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, Lisa Mahoney; The role and meanings of the image of St. Peter in the crusader sculpture of Nazareth: a new reading, Gil Fishhof; The vision of the cross and the Crusades in England before 1189, John Munns; A constellation of Crusade: the Resafa heraldry cup and the aspirations of Raoul I, Lord of Coucy, Richard A. Leson; Pictorial and sculptural commemoration of returning or departing crusaders, Nurith Kenaan-Kedar; ‘If I forget you, O Jerusalem…’: King Phillip the Fair, Saint George, and Crusade, Esther Dehoux; The Crusaders’ Holy Land in maps, P.D.A. Harvey; The Crusader loss of Jerusalem in the eyes of a 13th-century virtual pilgrim, Cathleen A. Fleck; Looking back: the Westminster Psalter, the added drawings, and the idea of ‘retrospective Crusade’, Debra Higgs Strickland; The visual vernacular: illustrating Jean de Vignay’s ‘Crusade’ translations, Maureen Quigley; Crusading responses to the Turkish threat in visual culture, 1453-1519, Norman Housley; Reframing the Crusade in the Piccolomini Library: Pinturicchio’s ‘standing Turk’ in Siena Cathedral, 1502-1508, Nora S. Lambert; Select bibliography of secondary literature, Index.

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