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Mitzi Kay Jackson

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The Decorated Style of Europe
by Mitzi Kay Jackson   
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, July 20, 2009
Posted: Monday, July 20, 2009

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Bridging the Gap between Gothic & Renaissance

The 14th century of courtiers and burghers, a time of chivalry and medieval, this period of art displayed a freedom and new technique of realism. The courtiers, an attendant at a sovereign's court and/or one who seeks favor, especially by insincere flattery or obsequious behavior. The burghers, a citizen of a town or borough. A comfortable or complacent member of the middle class, a member of the mercantile class a citizen of a medieval European city, a voter, a freeman. This era marks the crusading coming to a close, the recapturing of Jerusalem from the infantile. It marks an era of statuary coming back in style, honoring the figures in the Catholic Church (forgotten the statue as idol worship or only to tell biblical stories). The 14th century, the middle ages, aloud for freedom, very elaborate in detail and color that’s why it was called the decorated era.


The "Middle Ages" are so named because they separate the fall of Rome in the late 400's and the Renaissance about a thousand years later. During this period Europe was wracked by invasions from the north and east (the concoring in chapter 5). This was a time of instability and the disintegration of what had once been the monolithic Roman Empire into many smaller geopolitical units. During this period the church took over as the main institution of cultural continuity, preserving a part of the knowledge of antiquity. In the late Middle Ages knowledge of geometry and physical forces was applied to the building of churches and cathedrals, first in a pattern emulating Roman buildings (Romanesque) and then in innovative "Gothic" cathedrals. In parallel the purpose of visual objects gradually expanded to fill roles beyond the telling of religious stories with intentionally simple pictures. In the Renaissance ("rebirth of knowledge") beginning about 1400 techniques of realism in art met and even surpassed those of ancient Greece. In chapter 11 and my pages 219 – 220 the end of this chapter, we explore linear, atmospheric, light, focus, and positional perspective.

The artist started branching out into other areas and buildings other than churches, in the artwork, of illustrated manuscript, they were developing new currents, blues and reds, that of Jesus with symbols in hand, him more of a teacher, than that of a holy untouchable figure. The faces are all the same and this is where the bridging is seen, a bunch of images, crowded together yet balanced. On the same page you have a much more formal drawing, their bodies are more lifelike, and it’s not a biblical story but a story of everyday life holding medieval symmetry. Artist began to use their eyes and not just the standard or symbols to recognize one figure from the next. Artist began to use a very fine brush, some even using magnifying glass. A lot of commissioned artwork, (Paul and Jean de Limbourg Illuminated 1410ce pg 219) has very tiny details in the foreground, making the subject very realistic, and the background though being put in for just a backdrop sort of-speak.

Pisanello’s Studies of Monkeys (silver print on paper 1430ce pg 220) was a sketch most likely for himself building up an ideal on how to draw a monkey from what he saw, as a subject matter. Studies of Monkeys was proof of changing, practings his developing of skills.

Marble Relief (1340ce figure 145a pg221) is showing how a sculptor would work as a small piece or space, again using details it was done chisel and pounding, fine details separating that of the art and sculptors of the past eras.

I have included in the pictures some fashion of the 14 century courtiers and burghers, the churches, and literature was well influenced by this freedom. Artist Auguste Rodin, (the Thinker copy DIA) with his work entitled "The Burghers of Calais". Rodin, despite advice to the contrary, decided to acknowledge all the men's bravery on an equal footing by placing them at the same level. He also had the idea of placing the memorial within the market place of Calais, allowing people to walk between the figures. This was a change from the accepted form as most memorials were a statue placed on a pedestal. This work by Rodin goes beyond a simple representation of what occurred in that act of bravery and selflessness; it digs further into the souls of these men and as a result encapsulates the strength, pride and sorrow of the historical occurrence.

"I have not shown them grouped in a triumphant apotheosis; such glorification of their heroism would not have corresponded to anything real. On the contrary, I have, as it were, threaded them one behind the other, because in the indecision of the last inner combat which ensues between their cause and their fear of dying, each of them is isolated in front of their conscience." (Auguste Rodin)

14th century had very interesting things happening with religion as well, medieval times, gothic, witches, witch hunt but that’s another paper. This era dropped some of the Greek and Roman aesthetics added freedom of expression in very fine details, rebirthing techniques and development of styles and deep rich colors moving away from just decorating of churches making this period “the decorated style of Europe”.


Other examples of 14th century art were in these medieval times textiles made in workshops called tiraz were highly valued. Over time, the word came to be used for the textiles themselves. Throughout the Islamic world, tiraz have included both linen and silk works. Islamic textiles eventually made their way to Europe, influencing weavers and embroiderers there. The earliest surviving Islamic knotted carpets are from 14th-century Turkey and are multicolored with an overall natural-form pattern and an inscriptional band border. Beads, small perforated objects, made of a variety of materials that may be strung into necklaces and bracelets or attached to clothing or furnishings. The term was originally applied to prayer beads, or rosaries.

Archaeological finds reveal that a variety of gold bead necklaces were worn in ancient Mesopotamia and India. Byzantine courtiers and Mughal Indian nobility wore ropes of pearls. In Europe pearls and glass beads were popular for jewelry and embroidery. Hundreds of tiny glass beads or seed pearls were embroidered on dresses, church vestments, small pictures, boxes, and baskets. They were also strung and knitted into ladies' purses or used as fringe on dresses and lampshades. Native North Americans and tribal Africans wore beads on their clothing and bags. Africans also trimmed headdresses with beads and used them to cover vessels and stools.

Reader Reviews for "The Decorated Style of Europe"

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Reviewed by Ronald Hull
Ain't history interesting/

Reviewed by Karen Vanderlaan
fascinating--well written and informative!
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