The Bernward Gospels: Art, Memory, and the Episcopate in Medieval Germany

Hardcover | January 10, 2014

byJennifer P. Kingsley

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Few works of art better illustrate the splendor of eleventh-century painting than the manuscript often referred to as the “precious gospels” of Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim, with its peculiar combination of sophistication and naïveté, its dramatically gesturing figures, and the saturated colors of its densely ornamented surfaces. In The Bernward Gospels, Jennifer Kingsley offers the first interpretive study of the pictorial program of this famed manuscript and considers how the gospel book conditioned contemporary and future viewers to remember the bishop. The codex constructs a complex image of a minister caring for his diocese not only through a life of service but also by means of his exceptional artistic patronage; of a bishop exercising the sacerdotal authority of his office; and of a man fundamentally preoccupied with his own salvation and desire to unite with God through both his sight and touch. Kingsley insightfully demonstrates how this prominent member of the early medieval episcopate presented his role to the saints and to the communities called upon to remember him.

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Few works of art better illustrate the splendor of eleventh-century painting than the manuscript often referred to as the “precious gospels” of Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim, with its peculiar combination of sophistication and naïveté, its dramatically gesturing figures, and the saturated colors of its densely ornamented surfaces. In T...

Jennifer P. Kingsley is Lecturer and Administrator in Museums and Society at Johns Hopkins University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:228 pages, 10 × 8 × 1 inPublished:January 10, 2014Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271060794

ISBN - 13:9780271060798

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1 Memory

2 Service

3 Sight

4 Touch

Conclusion

Appendix

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“A welcome look into the creative motivations and commissions of one of the most important patrons of the Middle Ages, this fine book is not merely a study of a luxury manuscript. It provides English-language readers insight into the artistic innovations of a new class of wealthy and powerful donors—the well-connected bishops of Ottonian Germany. A fascinating story of power, prestige, and aesthetics in these commissions, The Bernward Gospels also considers the special relationship with God that Bernward of Hildesheim hoped to achieve in the densely meaningful images of his Gospels. In particular, Jennifer Kingsley explicates a series of visionary miniatures in the gospel book, concluding that for Bernward, the Eucharist and its implements could be a ‘prompt for spiritual sight’ and that his gifts to the church were intended to save his soul.”—Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College and The Graduate Center, CUNY