German Medieval Art
History of Middle Ages Architecture, Sculpture, Book-Painting in Germany.

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The Golden Madonna of Essen
(c.980) Essen Cathedral). Coloured
enamelling is used in the eyes of
both mother and infant. A rare
example of early Christian sculpture.

German Medieval Art (c.800-1250)


Carolingian Culture
Carolingian Architecture
Post-Carolingian Art Under Emperor Otto I
German Medieval Architecture: Romanesque Style
- Ottonian Architecture (c.950-1050)
- Salian Architecture (c.1050-1150)
- Hohenstaufen Architecture (c.1150-1250)
German Medieval Sculpture
German Medieval Book Painting

To see how Medieval art in Germany fits into the chronology of
European culture, please see: History of Art Timeline.

Mathilda Cross (c.973)
Essen Cathedral. A sublime example
of Ottonian precious metalwork
and cloisonné enamelling from
the 10th century.

Introduction: King Charlemagne (742-814)

The beginnings of German art can be traced back to a time when Germany as a nation did not exist. What is now known as Germany was then part of the Frankish kingdom, which, at the height of its power, extended from central Spain to the Elbe, and from the North Sea to Italy. This vast kingdom, united by King Charlemagne, was the result of his unwavering determination to gain supremacy in order to build an Imperium Romanum under the sign of the cross. To achieve these ends Charlemagne did not always use humane and peaceful means; where negotiations failed he imposed his will by the sword. Charlemagne's ambitious aims could only be attained by using superior force. The northern part of Central Europe, split up into countless tribal territories, was in danger of being crushed between two power blocks: the strong Eastern tribes and the Arabs who had penetrated as far as Spain. Only by united action could this danger be averted, and it was only through force that Charlemagne was able to convince the jealous and independent-minded tribal rulers from the Pyrenees to the Elbe that they must unite in order to protect their common interests.

The Prophets and the Beast for
the Abyss (1000-1020)
From The Bamberg Apocalypse.
This 11th-century illuminated manuscript
features the Book of Revelation and a
Gospel Lectionary. It was written and
illustrated in the scriptorium at the
Reichenau monastery

For an introduction, see:
Romanesque Art (c.1000-1200)
For church frescoes, see:
Romanesque Painting.
For Byzantine style pictures, see:
Romanesque Painting in Italy.
For Islamic influence, see:
Romanesque Painting in Spain.
For more abstract murals, see:
Romanesque Painting in France.

For the successor to German
medievalism, see:
German Gothic Art (1200-1450)

As a result the Carolingian empire was not a homogenous state like the Roman and Byzantine empires. It was basically an unstable group, unified by force, which disintegrated as soon as its creator, Charlemagne, king of the Franks and subsequently emperor, died in 814. Although much of what he had created collapsed in the confusion arising from the struggle over his succession, there remained a political, economic and cultural framework on which later generations could build. Through his promotion of Carolingian art, Charlemagne laid the foundations of a Northern European civilization which, for the first time represented an alternative to the Mediterranean civilization. He planted the seeds of a Western culture which, although based on earlier cultures, developed individual characteristics from the start that were to come to full fruition in later centuries.

Carolingian Culture

Charlemagne encouraged these developments during his long reign. As emperor he became his people's political and cultural leader and by forcing the subjected tribes to accept Christianity, he gave them not only a new religion, but also a new cultural framework that encompassed all aspects of the arts, literature and science. He modelled his ideas on the Roman Empire; that was the concept he wanted to revive by imbuing his empire with a new spirit of Christianity. Charlemagne was the first to introduce the idea of renascitur, rebirth, and of aurea Roma, Golden Rome, into Western civilization and this concept of renaissance was to reappear in later evolutionary art movements in the subsequent intellectual history of Europe.

Charlemagne, though unlearned himself, was a key figure in the history of art. As a patron of the arts he made great demands on his subjects, shaking them out of their lethargy and awakening the talents that lay dormant. His achievements were backed up by the instinctive good taste and the bold ideas of his creative mind. He ordered the first German grammar to be written, thereby giving the language form and validity. But he also sought to restore the Latin language, which had degenerated over the centuries, to its original classical form. He summoned scientists and artists from all parts of the then known world to his court at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), which became a centre of Christian art and culture; he had convents built and these developed into places of education and culture. It was largely through his personal initiative that Northern Europe for the first time produced its own architecture.


Carolingian Architecture

The principal example of Carolingian architecture is the Palatine Chapel at Aachen, which originally formed part of a large palace. Built between 790 and 805, it is one of the first monumental stone structures north of the Alps; the architect, Odo von Metz, successfully translated Charlemagne's idea of a Roman-Byzantine renaissance on German soil into architectural terms.

The inspiration came undoubtedly from San Vitale at Ravenna, a centrally planned structure which combines elements of Byzantine art with those of the Late Classical period. (See also: Ravenna Mosaics c.400-600.) However, the spatial arrangement is more consistent and powerful at Aachen, where the octagonal central area is clearly divided from the surrounding sixteen-sided ambulatory by two rows of superimposed arches. At Ravenna the transition from the octagon to the ambulatory has semi-circular niches. And whereas at Ravenna these semi-circular niches are screened by two-tiered columnal arches, the vertical plane at Aachen indicates a clear tendency towards simplification: the lower arches remain open and support the gallery above, thus creating a second level. On the upper floor high arches and columnar screens are reminiscent of Ravenna; they divide the gallery from the central space and at the same time provide a view to the lower floor for members of the court in the gallery.

The Palatine Chapel at Aachen has an additional feature of note that is missing in San Vitale and other Byzantine circular buildings: a two-tiered porch flanked by cylindrical turrets, giving the structure a sense of movement towards the altar. The impression created on the outside is that of three closely spaced towers, a motif which reappears later in Northern European architecture. The central and the longitudinal structures, the two basic types of sacred buildings since Early Christian times, are here combined, though hesitatingly, for the first time. Although subsequent attempts at this integration are more successful, here was a basis on which future architecture could build.

The gatehouse at Lorsch is another of the few Carolingian monuments which have been preserved. It once stood in the outer courtyard of one of the oldest churches on German soil, of which only the ground-plan is known today. The gatehouse, later transformed into a chapel, represents an interesting example of the revival of Classical forms. On the ground floor three big arches are flanked by engaged columns, a design that is taken from the Roman arena. These heavy engaged columns support the upper storey, which seems disproportionately slender compared to the powerful supports; its facade is divided by pilasters and these are surmounted by triangular arcades, thus creating a framework design. This demonstrates the stylistic uncertainty of the period: Classical forms are imitated but no satisfactory integration has as yet been achieved. Elements of monumental architecture - engaged columns and pilasters - are combined with framework motifs and together these are applied, with little comprehension of the principles, to a modest building. As a result the gate-house is more like a Germanic wooden structure than a Classical stone building. It was the absence of architectural traditions that restricted the practical application of the Classical revival as it had been envisaged by Charlemagne.

Post-Carolingian Art Under Emperor Otto I

The post-Carolingian period is characterized by the general chaos caused by the struggle over Charlemagne's succession among his grandsons. The resulting division of the empire brought with it a period of political, economic and cultural decline. The conquered tribes used these internal conflicts to liberate themselves from Frankish sovereignty and to avenge themselves on their former oppressors. The Normans advanced from the north and devastated large parts of France and Germany, the Saracens robbed and plundered in Italy, and the Hungarians conquered much of the eastern part of the old empire. But with the return to political stability under the firm rule of the Saxon Emperor Otto I in the middle of the tenth century, Europe recovered and new style of Ottonian art began to emerge, including a range of exquisite examples of goldsmithing, like the Gero Cross (965–70), the Golden Madonna of Essen (c.980) and the Cross of Otto and Mathilda (973). After a gap of more than a century, a period of great architectural activity began. But these hundred years had sufficed to loosen the ties between Northern Europe and the traditional Mediterranean cultural centres: architects and their patrons no longer felt compelled to follow the traditional Roman-Byzantine ideals.

German Medieval Romanesque Architecture

Whereas Carolingian culture had seen the last flowering of Late Classical forms, the emergence of Romanesque architecture represented a true new beginning. During the early period the architecture remained rough and crude with little attention to detail, but it was therefore all the more vigorous and capable of further development. The forms and concepts of earlier cultures were no longer accepted without criticism. Architects developed their own structural concepts and sculptors created their own forms; these, along with the early manuscript illuminations, were often extremely primitive, but they nevertheless displayed compelling expressiveness. Furthermore, both Romanesque art and Romanesque sculpture manifest the newly awakened self-confidence of the young nations north of the Alps which, as a political power, were about to dominate Western Europe. Just as the bishops and princes of the north rejected the established tutelage of Rome - a process which brought with it many political and ideological conflicts - so did the arts increase their independence. But political ties with Rome were never completely severed and as a result neither were the links connecting the artistic developments in the north and south ever totally dissolved. It was the rivalry between the Classical artistic traditions of Rome and the impetuous new ideas of the Germanic people which gave medieval art its strength, its originality and its inexhaustible wealth of creativity. While traditional forms continued to be preserved in Italy during the Middle Ages, important artistic developments were taking place in Germany and France.

In Germany the development of Romanesque architecture falls into three phases, named after the ruling dynasties of the period: Ottonian Art (c.950-1050); Salian Art (c.1050-1150); and Hohenstaufen Art (c.1150-1250).

Ottonian Architecture (c.950-1050)

Early Romanesque Ottonian architecture expresses the desire of the time to achieve simplicity in design and monumentality by rearranging the structural elements of the traditional ground-plan. Ottonian sacred buildings, as well as all later medieval ones, were based on the Classical basilica form: longitudinal structures divided by arcades into a central nave and two aisles, whereby the nave rises above the aisles. The basilica, a modification of the Classical temple, was used in Early Christian architecture. The first of these Early Christian basilicas were essentially one-directional; later a transept was added to the east, making the basilica T-shaped, and the semi-circular central apse, indicating the position of the altar, projected from the transept. During the Early Romanesque period a further structural element was added, the chancel, an extension of the nave between the transept and apse. This clear intersection of nave and transept transformed what had been a flowing spatial concept into a tighter, more complex structure, and the point of intersection, the crossing, acquired special significance by providing a clearly defined unit on which to base the ground-plan.

A significant step towards a fully ordered ground-plan was the adoption of equal widths for nave and transept which made the crossing into a square. By extending the use of this square unit to the dimensions of chancel and transept, a geometrical pattern of squares emerged at the eastern end of the basilica. In order to stress the sequence of square units along the nave, those columns standing on the corners of the squares were replaced by pillars, thus creating a system of alternating supports, which is a characteristic feature of Early Romanesque churches. At Gernrode the rhythm is pillar-column-pillar, at Hildesheim pillar-column-column.

Another important innovation of Ottonian architecture was the introduction into the Classical aisled basilica of the so-called westwork, the idea for which can be traced back to the two-tiered porch and cylindrical turrets of the Palatine Chapel at Aachen. This wide extension on the west side of the basilica established an entirely new balance between the east and west sides. The design of the westwork can differ considerably; at Gernrode it remains a massive porch flanked by cylindrical turrets; at Hildesheim, a west transept with apse was added and two identical groups of towers rise to the east and west, consisting of one central tower and two octagonal turrets, one at each end of the transept.

Two reasons can be given for this enlargement of the westwork: the position of the church at the time was that of a defence stronghold and the number of towers and turrets impressively demonstrated her power and strength; at the same time the gallery of the extended westwork provided a permanent seat for the emperor or local ruler and thereby effectively showed the equality of the political and spiritual powers. The double apsidal form of Romanesque churches symbolizes the productive co-operation as well as the bitter rivalry that existed between the two authorities during the Middle Ages.

An example of early Ottonian architecture is the Abbey at Gernrode founded in 961 by the Markgraf Gero, who died in 965 before the Abbey was completed. An unusually short basilican nave and aisles stand at a slight angle to the massive transept and chancel, and are terminated by a westwork flanked by circular stair-towers. The exterior of ashlar masonry conveys an impression of stark severity; a few deeply cut windows provide an elementary articulation and the portal is set straight into the thickness of the wall. The striking austerity of the interior serves to accentuate the fine rhythm of the alternating supports. The functional simplicity of all aspects of the structure lends it a dignity and strength which cannot be found in Byzantine or Early Christian basilicas.

The Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael at Hildesheim (about 1020) is considerably less austere. It was designed by Bishop Bernward, who had spent more than ten years at the court of the Empress Theophano and from there had travelled to Rome, Paris and Cologne. His intimate knowledge of every important architectural development from Byzantium to the Rhine found expression at Hildesheim. The ground-plan immediately reveals a wealth of new ideas. The nave is composed of three crossing squares and is flanked to the east and west by symmetrical transepts which are terminated by galleries. Powerful arches single out the crossing and thereby transform the intersection of nave and transept into a focal point from which chancel, nave and transept radiate. The long stretch of wall between clerestory and nave arcade is left undivided to accentuate a feeling of verticality and to counter the horizontally orientated alteration of supports.

See also our short introduction to Stained Glass Art - an artform which first appeared in the eleventh century - and Stained Glass Art Materials, Methods.

Salian Architecture (c.1050-1150)

The Benedictine Abbey of Maria Laach (1093-1156) provides an interesting example of architectural developments during Salien times. The ground-plan is similar to that of St. Michael at Hildesheim, inasmuch as an apse at either end gives equal weight to east and west terminations, but various innovations appear at Maria Laach: a richer design and a stronger articulation of wall surfaces eliminate the former severity. The windows of the main elevation are separated by pilaster strips, and arcaded string courses provide a smooth transition from roof to wall. A variety of towers with differently shaped roofs further animates the structure: to the east two square towers with pyramid-shaped roofs stand between transept and apse-ended aisles and flank an octagonal central tower with tent-shaped roof; to the west a square tower with rhomb-shaped roof is flanked by two round turrets with octagonal tent-shaped roofs. The towers are decorated by double and triple windows, grouped together between small columns, or by single windows placed in funnel-shaped openings.

This animation and articulation of wall surfaces were taken a step further on the exterior of Speyer Cathedral where flat pilaster strips are linked by arcades and dwarf galleries are set into the thickness of the wall, under the eaves of the conically roofed apse, below the line of the chancel gable and under the eaves of the transept.

The construction of Speyer Cathedral began under the Salien emperor, Conrad II, in 1030, but it took nearly one hundred years to complete and during this time several changes were introduced which greatly influenced the further architectural development of medieval sacred buildings. The most important of these was the construction, around 1090, of the first vaulted nave in medieval Europe. Until then the monumental interiors of Romanesque cathedrals had been covered by flat timber ceilings. Although these were satisfactory in appearance and design they had one distinct disadvantage: they burnt easily.

After several Romanesque churches had burnt down, some more than once, the desirability of stone ceilings became generally apparent. But stone ceilings had to be vaulted and the art of vaulting, mastered in Roman times, had been forgotten along with other skills. Medieval artists and architects had to start anew in this field, experimenting and learning from their experience. At Speyer some knowledge had been gained during the construction of a vast groin-vaulted crypt. The groin vault is formed by the intersection of two tunnel vaults at right angles and its stresses are concentrated on the four points of intersection, the groin lines. This sort of vaulting was executed in the monastery refectory of Maulbronn, too, but in a very low-ceilinged room. The difficulty of applying this vaulting technique to the height and span of the nave of Speyer lay in dealing with the problem of side thrusts; it became necessary to reinforce those points of the wall on which the groin lines would rest. Therefore every alternate pier was strengthened with shafts and dosserets to supply adequate support for the weight of the vault and conduct its thrusts and stresses down to the foundations. This bold experiment in vaulting at Speyer later proved to be a failure. In relation to its vast span the vaulting surface was too thin and the vault collapsed in 1159. The Salien dynasty lost power at about the same time - a fateful parallel.

Hohenstaufen Architecture (c.1150-1250)

The cathedral at Worms, built in the early thirteenth, represents one of the great architectural achievements of the Hohenstaufen period. Whilst incorporating all the characteristic features of the Romanesque style it also shows the first signs of Gothic art in Germany. Compared with earlier Romanesque cathedrals the structure is considerably taller, there is modern Gothic rib vaulting, and the west chancel has a typically Gothic circular window. The articulation of the walls is even richer than at Speyer. Dwarf galleries, arcaded pilaster strips and arched string courses decorate towers and walls and create a lively interplay of projecting and receding masonry.

The familiar balance between east and west, almost anachronistic in this towering cathedral, is established by the disposition of four turrets and by the harmony of contrasting horizontal and vertical elements. But the west work at Worms represents the first step towards a dynamic new structural concept: two turrets closely flank an octagonal central tower and seem to lift it upwards. The solid, earthbound, archaic monumentality of Romanesque architecture had reached its limits. In order to continue the dramatic new upward movement, it was necessary to break with tradition, a step that had already been taken in France with the appearance of Gothic architecture at the Abbey of Saint-Denis, near Paris, around 1140.

German Medieval Sculpture

Early medieval sculpture complements the architecture and the two are fused into an indissoluble unit. The ornamental carvings of capitals, the mouldings of arches, and the sculptured figures on Romanesque porches form an integral part of the structure. The severity and functional simplicity of Ottonian architecture did not lend itself to elaborate ornamentation and only Ottonian church doors display the full sculptural wealth and ingenuity of this age.

The first and most famous pair of these elaborately decorated bronze doors was completed in 1020 at Hildesheim. They represent a truly remarkable accomplishment of Ottonian plastic art as well as an astonishing technical advance in the art of bronze sculpture. Bishop Bernward modelled his design for this work on the doors of S. Sabina, an Early Christian basilica in Rome, but while earlier bronze portals had been constructed of flat panels affixed to wood, the doors at Hildesheim were cast in one piece, a considerable achievement at a time when no previous technical knowledge of large scale bronze casting was available.

The portrayal of scenes from the Old and the New Testaments on sixteen broad panels displays a wealth of narrative detail. No attempt is made to create a background perspective, but the figures convey a dramatic expressiveness. The panel depicting Adam and Eve shows stylized trees of paradise on neutral ground from which the figures are made to stand out by a difference in relief. Highly expressive gestures tell the story in the medieval convention of simultaneity for the portrayal of consecutive events. The serpent offers Eve the apple from the tree of knowledge, Eve holds the apple in her left hand and with her right hand she passes it to Adam, who hesitates to accept it; his hesitation is expressed by the way he leans back and thereby increases the distance between himself and Eve, while the apple in his right hand shows that he has partaken of the forbidden fruit. The figures, their bodies and facial expressions, bear no resemblance to Classical models. The artist's aim is no longer to create a pleasing picture of balanced beauty but to convey an emotion. For the first time in Western art the emphasis has moved from form to content.

This emphasis on content, first evident in Hildesheim, characterizes subsequent Romanesque sculpture. The lion monument in front of the castle and cathedral at Brunswick was meant to be a symbol of the power of the duke Henry the Lion, who was the opponent of the emperor Frederick Barbarossa. At Bamberg Cathedral the figures on the choir screen (about 1230) are un-Classical and dramatically expressive in gesture and attitude, and the slender sculptures on the famous Furstenportal (princes' portal), as well as the naive, nearly grotesque figures on the tympanum portraying the Last Judgment, are characteristic of German sculpture of that period.

Note: Other medieval sculpture in Germany includes the famous gilded oak sculpture known as the Gero Cross ("Gero-Kreuz") (965–70) at Cologne Cathedral, which is the oldest large carving of the crucified Christ north of the Alps; and the celebrated Golden Madonna of Essen (c.980), now in the Essen Cathedral.

German Medieval Book Painting

The art of painting began to be practised in Germany during Carolingian times, when Irish monks, summoned to Charlemagne's palace at Aachen, brought with them the secrets of illuminated manuscripts. (In this connection, see Irish masterpieces like the Book of Durrow (c.650-80) and the Book of Kells (c.800), to name but two). Experts in the making of illuminated manuscripts, these Irish monks set up scriptoria at the palace and at convents across the empire, and the Celtic art style of ornamenting initials with abstract patterns was enriched by the introduction of figural representations, taken from Classical models, which the Carolingian renaissance had made available. Thus began the Continental tradition of medieval Christian art.

Charlemagne established the Palace School at Aachen and invited the great theologian, Alcuin of York, to preside over this cultural effort. Under Alcuin's direction the Palace School soon became famous and excelled earlier Irish and English schools by the craftsmanship of its scribes and illustrators. In 796, after eight fruitful years at Aachen, Alcuin continued his work as the abbot of Tours. He revised Latin texts that had been corrupted through successive copying, and reformed the Latin script which had degenerated in the illiterate centuries preceding. Under his direction many accurate copies of Classical and theological texts were transcribed at the scriptorium of Tours and thereby preserved for posterity. A major work of the period still bears his name: the Alcuin Bible.

Among the earliest works in the history of illuminated manuscripts from this period are the Godescalc Gospels, said to have been commissioned by the emperor for his sister and completed between 781 and 783. In the miniature of Christ Enthroned, which in the Godescalc Gospels appears in addition to the usual religious paintings of the four evangelists, Irish ornaments intermingle with the naturalistic representation of Classical imagery. The fantastic interlacing of coloured bands and flat, stylized foliage in the border contrasts strangely with the graphic, nearly perspective representation of the throne and the battlemented architecture of the background. The figure of Christ is based on Late Classical and Early Christian models and shows the artist's endeavour to give the body a more plastic character: the feet extend to the forefront of the picture and the left foot even projects beyond the throne; the face too is delicately modelled and the use of different colours creates an impression of light and shadow. These early Carolingian miniatures incorporate a great many unassimilated foreign ideas and therefore lack creative originality, but the attempt to assimilate those ideas represents the first decisive step towards an independence which German painting was to reach in the years to come.

See also: Tempera Painting (the usual medium for book painting) and Encaustic Painting (an alternative medium for panel miniatures).

During the ninth century the development of manuscript illumination centred around the Ada School and there, more than at the international metropolis of Aachen, indigenous characteristics began to assert themselves. The illustrations in the Codex of Trier, for instance, are less elegant, less complex and less ornate than contemporary illuminations from the Palace School, but for that very reason they provided a more suitable basis for further developments. In this respect the Sacramentary from Fulda, copied and illustrated in the tenth century, forms an interesting link between Carolingian and Ottonian illuminations. One of its calendar pages shows allegorical figures representing the Twelve Months, the Four Seasons, and the Year. Far from suggesting a crowded feeling, their arrangement in ornamental patterns on an empty background creates a sparse and well-balanced composition. The plastic character of the figures, their elegant movements and the allegorical theme of the picture suggest a knowledge of Late Classical paintings, while the ornamental interlacing of various elements to an attractive unit indicates a more recent, Carolingian influence. It is the lack of background perspective, however, which hints at impending changes in the art of manuscript illumination.

At the turn of the millennium this innovation which appeared in the Calendar Page of the Fulda Sacramentary, a setting of symbolic figures against a plain neutral ground, developed into the first truly independent pictorial style in the history of European painting. Late Classical naturalism and descriptive realism were abandoned and the expression of abstract ideas in a timeless fashion became the sole purpose of the illustration. Simplified figures with lively gestures are set against a neutral background and the composition is often severely symmetrical. The vigorous expressiveness of this new style is effectively demonstrated by an illustration from the Codex of the Abbess Hitda of the Storm on the Sea. The boat, reduced to a mere nutshell, is placed diagonally against a plain background, but the wildly flapping sail and the fearfully protruding eyes of the apostles in the boat vividly express the idea the artist wanted to convey: that of threatened humanity and hope of divine help.

Expressiveness in movement and colouration characterizes the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus from the Golden Gospels of Echternach. A sparing but extremely effective use of symbolism conveys the narrative on three panels in a rich and lively fashion: the home of the rich man and outside his gate poor Lazarus with dogs licking his sores, the death of Lazarus and removal of his soul to the bosom of Abraham, and finally the death of the rich man and removal of his soul to hell.

These archaic Ottonian miniatures continued to be perfected by miniaturists during the twelfth century era of Romanesque illuminated manuscripts and became a highly accomplished artform. Compared to earlier manuscripts, the illuminations from the Pericopes of St. Erentrud show a notably stronger differentiation of colour and more elegant lines, without any resulting loss in expressiveness of attitude and gesture. The big penetrating eyes are still in the tradition of earlier miniature portrait painting, but the artistic vertical arrangement of the delicately drawn figures into an upright format suggests an evolution parallel to that of contemporary architecture.

To compare medieval painting in Germany with works in Eastern Europe, see Russian Medieval Painting (950-1100) and the Novgorod School of Icon Painting.

The book painters' principal occupation for nearly five hundred years had been the illumination of religious manuscripts - gospel books, pericopes, sacramentaries and psalters - but when the monasteries lost their cultural monopoly towards the end of the Middle Ages and laymen started to take up artistic pursuits, historical tomes and books of secular poetry began to be copied and illustrated. The most famous secular manuscript of late medieval times is the Minnesanger Manuscript of the Manesse Family, now the property of the University Library at Heidelberg. One of the finest of Gothic illuminated manuscripts, it contains 137 full-page illustrations of songs by 140 poets. Pictures of knights and troubadours, of splendid tournaments and noble ladies conjure up the world of delicate court social life and confirm the most romantic ideas of the Middle Ages. The Markgraf of Brandenburg was a well-known figure of this epoch.

To see how later German medieval painting was revived during the 19th century, see the Nazarenes group, led by Friedrich Overbeck.

German Medieval art can be seen in some of the best art museums in the world. In particular see the Gemaldegalerie SMPK Berlin, the Alte Meister Dresden, and the Pinakothek Museum in Munich.

We gratefully acknowledge the use of material from the seminal study entitled Deutsche Kunst (German Art) - published by Georg Westermann Verlag, Brunswick, and translated by Pall Mall Press Ltd - a publication we strongly recommend for any serious students of medieval art in what is now Germany.


• For the greatest painters and sculptors in history, see: Best Artists of All Time.
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