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  • 1 Institute of Art History, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská 9, Bratislava
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Abstract

The article offers an introduction into a broader research project, focussing on the question of repeated scenes (topoi) in mediaeval pictorial legends from Central Europe. It discusses two levels of functional explanation of the topoi (resp. of their modification): 1, their general anthropological meanings; 2, their historical function in the particular society.

  • 1. Delehaye, H.: Les légendes hagiographiques. Bruxelles 1955. Bornscheuer, L.: Topik. Zur Struktur der gesellschaftlichen Einbildungskraft. Frankfurt a. M. 1976, pp. 91108. Bornscheuer, L.: Neue Dimensionen und Desiderata der Topik-Forschung, in: Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch, 22, 1987, pp. 227. Angenendt, A.: Heilige und Reliquien. Die Geschichte ihres Kultes vom frühen Christentum bis zur Gegenwart, München 1997, p. 144. Kanovský, M.: Štruktúra hagiografických legiend. in: Český časopis historický, 92 (1994), pp. 619643.

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  • 2. Nahmer, D. von der: Die lateinische Heiligenvita. Eine Einführung in die lateinische Hagiographie. Darmstadt 1994, p. 154. Ringler, S.: Zur Gattung Legende. Versuch einer Strukturbestimmung der christlichen Heiligenlegende des Mittelalters, In: Kesting, P. (ed.): Würzburger Prosastudien II. München, 1975, pp. 255270.

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  • 3. The art historical studies referring to this phenomenon include Hahn, C.: Kommentarband zu Passio Killiani/Ps. Theotimus, Passio Margaretae/Orationes. Vollständige Faksimile-Ausgabe des Codex Ms. I. 189 aus dem Besitz der Niedersächsischen Landesbibliothek Hannover, Graz 1988, above all pp. 913; Carrasco, M.: Spirituality and Historicity in Pictorial Hagiography: Two Miracles by St. Albinus of Angers, in: Art History, 12 (1989), pp. 121, here pp. 12; Telesko, W.: Imitatio Christi und Christoformitas. Heilsgeschichte und Heiligengeschichte in den Programmen hochmittelalterlicher Reliquienschreine, in: Hagiographie und Kunst: der Heiligenkult in Schrift, Bild und Architektur, ed. G. Kerscher. Berlin 1993, pp. 369384; Labuda, A. S.: Czytanie Drzwi Gnieźnieńskich – przekaz i jezyk obrazu, in: Tropami Świetego Wojciecha, Poznań 1999, pp. 235256, cf. p. 240, note 12.

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  • 4. An instructive introduction into the basic problems of anthropology within the tradition of art history is offered by Zimmermann, Michael F.: Art history as anthropology. French and German traditions. In: Zimmermann, Michael F., (ed.): The art historian – national traditions and institutional practices. New Haven 2003, s. 167–188. A great part of this article is devoted to the critical discussion of an important work of anthropological research, based on the art historical material, by Hans Belting: Bild-Anthropologie. Entwürfe für eine Bildwissenschaft, München 2001. The art historical approach to the anthropology of images is fundamentally different from the insights, which have resulted from other disciplinary traditions, such as the studies by Zenon Pylyshyn (e.g. Pylyshyn, Z.: Return of the mental image: are there really pictures in the brain? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (2003) No. 3, pp. 113118; Pylyshyn, Z.: Mental imagery: In search of a theory, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2002), pp. 157238. I would like to thank doc. Martin Kanovský for supplying me with the copies of the both articles.

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  • 5. A general introduction to the question of narrative as an object of art history is offered by Kemp, W.: Narrative, in: Nelson, R.; Shiff, R. (eds.): Critical terms for art history. Chicago 1996, pp. 5869.

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  • 6. Cf. the observations by Phillips, R.: The Value of Disciplinary Difference: Reflections on Art History and Anthropology at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century, In: Westermann, M. (ed.): Anthropologies of art, New Haven 2005, pp. 242259, among others a summary and comment on the results of the Clarks Institute Conference (2003), published in the same book.

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  • 7. Preliminary results of such a study were published in Gerát, Ivan: KľúProblémy dejín výtvarného umenia Slovenska, Bratislava 2002, pp. 79119; large portions of the present text are based on this study.

  • 8. At least since the nineteenth century, such political scenes have had a special appeal to historians working with the ideological needs of emerging nations – many of those scenes were closely connected to “national” saints. For more about these and related problems see Petersohn, J. (ed.): Politik und Heiligenverehrung im Hochmittelalter. Sigmaringen 1994.

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  • 9. “Der Interpretant des Bildzeichens sind die Ideen, Gedanken, Schlußfolgerungen, Eindrücke oder Handlungen, welche das Bild erzeugt.“ Nöth, W.: Warum Bilder Zeichen sind. In: Majetschak, S. (ed.): Bild-Zeichen: Perspektiven einer Wissenschaft vom Bild, München 2005, pp. 4961, here p. 53.

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  • 10. Zimmermann, o.c. (note 4, pp. 179182) discusses the possibilities of a historical anthropology of art in a chapter with the significant title “Anthropology and Modesty“.

  • 11. Cf. also Wulf, Ch.: Bilder des Sozialen. In: Hüppauf, B.; Wulf, Ch. (eds.): Bild und Einbildungskraft, München 2006, pp. 203215, here p. 207.

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  • 12. Faulstich, W.: Medien und Öffentlichkeit im Mittelalter. 800–1400, Göttingen 1996, pp. 157168; Uhlíř, Z.: Hagiografie mezi slovesným a výtvarným vyjádřením, in: Průzkumy památek 13 (2006), příloha, pp. 6470.

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  • 13. The repetitive quality of saints lives, in fact, refers directly to this identity with Christ” Hahn 1988 (note 3), p. 13.

  • 14. Hahn, C.: Interpictoriality in the Limoges chasses of Stephen, Martial, and Valerie, In: Hourihane, C. (ed.): Image and belief: studies in celebration of the eightieth anniversary of the Index of Christian Art. Princeton 1999, pp. 109124; Hahn, C.: Portrayed on the Heart. Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century. Berkley – Los Angeles 2001, p. 58.

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  • 15. Some of those studies have been published in English or German, such as Gerát, Ivan: Angels, demons and the politics of the late mediaeval pictorial hagiography. in: Acta Historiae Artium, Tomus 48 (2007), pp. 263271; Gerát, Ivan: Das Phänomen der Grenze in mittelalterlichen Bildlegenden der Heiligen Elisabeth von Ungarn in: Ars, roSigismund von Luxemburg. Ein Kaiser in Europa. Tagungsband des internationalen historischen und kunsthistorischen Kongresses in Luxemburg, 8.–10. Juni 2005, Hrsg. von Pauly, Michel und Reinert, François. Mainz 2006, pp. 331336; Gerát, Ivan: Ladislaus-Zyklen und nationale Mythen – Die Suche nach dem Archetypischen als Deutungsmethode in der ungarischen und tschechoslowakischen Forschung. In: Born, Robert – Janatková, Alena – Labuda, Adam (eds.): Die Kunsthistoriographien in Ostmitteleuropa und der nationale Diskurs. Berlin 2004, s. 180–191.

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  • 16. The importance of the noble origin of a saint has been stressed by Vauchez, A.: Lay Peoples Sanctity in Western Europe: Evolution of a Pattern, In: Blumenfeld-Kosinski, R. Sell, T. R. (ed.): Images of Sainthood in Medieval Europe. Ithaca London 1991, pp. 2132, p. 26. Gerát, Ivan: Der Elisabethzyklus am Hochaltarretabel zu Kaschau – Gegenstand der Deutungen, in: Acta Historiae Artium, 45 (2004), pp. 243–255.

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  • 17. Grúň, Daniel: Cyklus sv. Mikuláša z hlavného oltára farského kostola v Prešove. Interpretácia naratívneho celku. in: Galéria – Ročenka SNG 2004–2005, Bratislava 2006, pp. 289302, p. 295.

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  • 18. Saint Paul (2 Tes.1,10) mentions the glory of God in his saints. This thought has been applied to miracles by Gregory of Tours in his works Historia Francorum (VI, 6, VIII 14 a 16) and In gloria martyrum (83). Cf. Telesko 1993 (note 3), p. 380.

  • 19. Belting, H.: Toward an Anthropology of the Image, In: Westermann (ed.), o.c. (note 6), pp. 4158.

  • 20. More about such pictures is to be found in Belting, o.c. (note 4), pp. 143188.

  • 21. Raising of Lazarus – John 11, 1–45; resurrection of the son of a widow from Naim – Luk 7, 1117.

  • 22. The images belong to the retable of Saint Mary Magdalene from Sv. Jakub (Szentjakabfalva), around 1480–1500, today in Banská Bystrica, church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. For the textual source of the episode see Jacobus de Voragine: Legenda aurea. Aschaffenburg 1986, p. 264. As far as I am currently not able to get either to Iacopo da Varazze: Legenda aurea Ed. critica a cura di G. P. Maggioni, Firenze 1998, or the modern English translation, edited by W. G. Ryan (Jacobus de Voragine: The Golden Legend, New York 1995), I am referring to the page numbers in the modernized English translation by William Caxton accessible at http://www.fortham.edu/halsall/basis/goldenlegend.

  • 23. The image in LevoKrakowska legenda Jana Jalmuznika, Warszawa 1966, pp. 78.

  • 24. Images of the retable of Saint Helen and Giles in Sásová (Zólyomszászfalu, Sachsendorf; c. 1510); cf. Cidlinská, L.: Tabuľové maľby v Sásovej. in: Ars, (1984), Nr.1, pp. 97103.

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  • 25. Voragine, J. de: Legenda Aurea. Praha 1998, p. 170. Caxton (note 22), Vol. 3, pp. 7882.

  • 26. Abou-El-Haj, B.: The Medieval Cult of Saints. Formations and Transformations. Cambridge 1994, p. 43.

  • 27. Kessler, H. L.: Pictorial Narrative and Church Mission in Sixth-Century Gaul, In: Kessler, H. L.; Simpson, M. S. (eds.): Pictorial Narrative in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Washington 1985, pp. 7677.

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  • 28. The picture see in Török, Gy.: Gótikus szárnyasoltárok a középkori Magyarországon. Állandó kiállítás a Magyar Nemzeti Galériában. Budapest 2005, p. 53 and 118; See also Keller, A.: Ars Hungarica 18: 2 (1990), pp. 187200 and Šugár, M.: Neskorogotické tabuľové maliarstvo v oblasti stredoslovenských banských miest, In: Buran, D. (ed.): Gotika. Dejiny slovenského výtvarného umenia, Bratislava 2003, pp. 475497.

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  • 29. See note 24.

  • 30. E. g. in the scenes from the lives of Saint Paul and Saint Bartholomew, depicted in the so called Hungarian Angevin Legendary (around 1350, on the folios preserved in the Hermitage Collection – E 16933; Vatican Library – Cod. Vat. lat. 8541, fol. 14v; and Morgan Collection – M XX). This manuscript has been carefully studied by Szakács, Béla Zsolt: A Magyar Anjou Legendárium képi rendszerei, Budapest 2006, here pp. 176177.

  • 31. 1510–1520. Today in the museum in Košice (Kassa, Kaschau) – cf. Radocsay, D.: A középkori Magyarország táblaképei, Budapest 1955, p. 299;.

  • 32. Voragine, o.c. (note 25), p. 168; Caxton (note 22), vol 3, p. 72.

  • 33. Prešov Eperjes , Preschau; around 1500) –Grúň, o.c. (note 17), p. 299.

  • 34. Hahn, o.c. (note 14, 2001), p. 153. Dinzelbacher, P.: Angst im Mittelalter: Teufels-, Todes- und Gotteserfahrung: Mentalitätsgeschichte und Ikonographie, Paderborn 1996, p. 55 and 75.

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  • 35. Buran, Dušan: Studien zur Wandmalerei um 1400 in der Slowakei. Die Pfarrkirche St. Jakob in Leutschau und die Pfarrkirche St. Franziskus Seraphicus in Poniky. Weimar 2002, pp. 7086; Šugár, Martin: Ná Doba Jagellonská v zemích české koruny (1471–1526). Sborník Katolické teologické fakulty University Karlovy. Dějiny umění – historie I. České Budějovice 2005, pp. 329346, here p. 332.

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  • 36. Dinzelbacher, o.c. (note 34), p. 131.

  • 37. The medieval legends of Saint Anthony were inspired by his first biography, written in the fourth century by Saint Athanasius (PG XXVI, 837–976, cf. AASS XVII Januarii, 471–527, I was using the Czech translation Sv. Atanáš: Život sv. Antonína Poustevníka. Velehrad 1996). An important textual source for the late medieval images of Saint Anthony was also the Vita S. Pauli primi eremitae by St. Jerome (PL XXIII 18–28). I was using Šubrt, Jiří (ed.): Jeroným (Hieronymus, Eusebius Sofronius). Legendy o poustevnících (Vitae eremitarum), Praha 2002. In the fifteenth century, the text was transtated in German – see Sorg, Anton (ed): Das buoch der heiligen altväter (Vitas patrum) Augsburg 1482. Williams, Ulla: Die» alemannischen Vitaspatrum«. Untersuchungen und Edition, Tübingen 1996.

  • 38. Sulpitius Severus : De Vita beati Martini, chapter 24. I used the Czech translation by Pavel Ryneš Sulpicius Severus: Život svatého Martina. Praha 2003 (introduced and commented by Martin C. Putna). See also Gerát, Ivan: Zriedkavá téma zo života sv. Martina v Čeríne, in: ARS 35 (2002), pp. 241243; Lambert, Malcom: Středověká hereze. Praha 2000, pp. 479480.

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  • 39. Gerát, Ivan: Columna militiae Christianae – k historickým funkciám ladislavských cyklov v 14. storoGaléria – Ročenka SNG 2004–2005, Bratislava, 2006, pp. 8195.

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  • 40. Dvořáková, Vlasta: La légende de saint Ladislas decouverte dans l'eglise de Veľká Lomnica, Buletinul Monumentelor Istorice, 41: 4 (1972), pp. 2542.

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  • 41. Halbfas, Hubertus: Die Wahrheit der Legende, in: Volgger, Ewald: Sankt Georg und sein Bilderzyklus in Neuhaus/Böhmen (Jindřichův Hradec), Marburg 2002, pp. 137152, here 142.

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  • 42. J. Fajt , R. Suckale: Hlavný oltár sv. Juraja v Spišskej Sobote. In: Buran, D. (ed.): Gotika. Dejiny slovenského výtvarného umenia, Bratislava 2003, p. 753755. See also I. Gerát, The Afterlife of the Stoss Style and Its Contexts – the High Altar of St George in Spišská Sobota, in: Wokół Wita Stwosza, Krakow 2006, pp. 295303.

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  • 43. For Magdalene – the retable from Rokycany (Berki, c. 1480–90, today in the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest); and the painting on her retable from Sv. Jakub (see above note 22). For Anthony – the retable from Spišská Sobota (Mons Sancti Georgii / Szepesszombat/ Georgenberg, c. 1503) – see Gerát, I.: O porovnávaní neskorogotickej maľby, In: Oriško, Š. (ed.): Pocta Vladimírovi Wagnerovi. Bratislava 2004, pp. 7994.

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  • 44. About this retable see M. Novotná: Reštaurovanie oltára sv. Petra a Pavla v LevoPamiatky a múzeá 4/95, pp. 4045.

  • 45. A sorcerer was an important adversary of the saints also in the legends of Eastern Church – more details in Pratsch, Th: Der hagiographische Topos. Griechische Heiligenviten in mittelbyzantinischer Zeit, Berlin – New York 2005, pp. 171175.

  • 46. De Groot, A. D.: Saint Nicholas. A psychoanalytic study of his history and myth. The Hague – Paris 1965. About the Crucifixion retable by Thomas da Coloswar (Esztergom, Keresztény Múzeum 54.3–54.10) see recently P. Gy. (Poszler, Györgyi): Kreuzigungsaltar, In: Takács, I. (ed.): Sigismundus Rex et Imperator. Kunst und Kultur zur Zeit Sigismund von Luxemburg 1387–1437, Budapest–Luxemburg 2006, pp. 580586.

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  • 47. See above note 43.

  • 48. To the tradition of his cult see Meisen, K.: Nikolauskult und Nikolausbrauch im Abendlande, Düsseldorf 1931.

  • 49. For examples of this tradition see e.g. life of St. Edmund (New York, Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 736, fol. 9. See also C. Hahn, Peregrinatio et natio: The Illustrated Life of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, Gesta, 30 (1991), p. 122 and G. Guest, A Discourse on the Poor: the Hours of Jeanne ‘Evreux, Viator, 26 (1995), pp. 153–180, p. 162.

  • 50. This scene has been depicted e.g. on the retable of Saint Nicholas from Kremnica (Körmöczbánya, Kremnitz; around 1476, today in Budapest, Hungarian National Gallery 53.903 – see Gy. Török, The Altarpiece of St. Nicholas from Jánosrét in the Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest 1990.).

  • 51. This scene has been depicted e.g. on the retable of Saint Stephen and Emeric in Matejovce (Mateóc, Matzdorf; after 1453) – see Művészettörténeti Értesítő, 29: 1 (1980), pp. 4980.

  • 52. Painted in two scenes on the Calvary retable in Bardejov (Bártfa, Bartfeld; 1480–90).

  • 53. Benz, E.: Die Vision. Stuttgart 1969; Dinzelbacher, P.: Mittelalterliche Visionsliteratur. Darmstadt, 1989; Harbison, Craig: Visions and meditations in early Flemish painting, in: Simiolus 15 (1985), s. 87118.

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  • 54. Panel paintings from the altarpiece in the church of St. Elizabeth, Košice (Kaschau, Kassa; ca. 1474–1478) – see Gerát, Ivan: Látomások képei a kassai Szent Erzsébet főoltáron, in: Művészettörténeti Értesítő 51 (2002), pp. 1727; Török, Gyöngyi: Ikonographie des Hochaltarretabels der Kirche St. Elisabeth in Kaschau, In: Blume, Dieter; Werner, Matthias (eds.): Elisabeth von Thüringen – eine europäische Heilige. Aufsätze, Petersberg 2007, pp. 397412, p. 408.

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  • 55. “Preclara est virginitas, viriginitatem mentis et corporis a te exigo…” – reads the inscription in the Picture, according to the Legenda S. Emerici ducis, In: Szentpétery, E. (ed.): Scriptores rerum hungaricarum tempore ducum regumque stirpis Arpadianae gestarum, Budapestini 1937, pp. 453454; Török, Gy.: Művészettörténeti Értesítő, 29 (1980), 1, pp. 4980, p. 64 a p. 79, note 60.

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  • 56. Gerát, Ivan: Dulcissimus cantus beate Elyzabet – košický obraz v kontextoch kultúry neskorého stredoveku, in: Životy a diela. Zborník z kolokvia, venovaného 75. narodeninám pedagógov a členov katedry dejín umenia a kultúry, ktoré sa konalo v Trnave 12. mája 2005, Trnava 2006, pp. 4144.

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  • 57. The examples here include the Vision of St. John the Evangelist on Patmos in LevoWiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte, 46–47 (1993/94), pp. 763774.

  • 58. Basic textual sources for the general meaning of martyrdom in Latin church are named by Schockenhoff, E.: Martyrium, in: Lexikon des Mittelalters, VI, Stuttgart 1999, col. 353–355. A classical text to the problem – Grabar, A.: Martyrium, recherches sur le culte des reliques et l'art chrétien antique, Paris, 1946.

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  • 59. Hahn, o.c. (note 14, 2001), p. 79.

  • 60. This scene was included in the narrative cycle of the life of Saint Dorothea in Levoča (Lőcse, Leutschau; around 1400) – see Buran, o.c. (note 35); and on the retable of Saint George in Spišská Sobota (see note 42).

  • 61. Beheading of St. Dorothea in Levoča (Lőcse; Leutschau; around 1400); of St. Catherine in Turany (before 1500); of St. Barbara in Jazernica (Márkfalva, 1517). In the Roman times, the of execution by sword was reserved to the nobility – Hahn, o.c. (note 14, 2001), p. 80.

  • 62. Saints boiled in a cauldron: George in Spišská Sobota (1516, see note 42); Margaret in Mlynica (Malompatak, Mühlenbach; around 1515–1520); Dorothy in Levoča (around 1400, see note 35); John in Levoča (main altar retable of Saint James, see note 57);.

  • 63. Cf. Boeckler, A.: Das Stuttgarter Passionale. Augsburg 1913, fig. 12 and 43; Menologium of Basil II – Ms. Vat. Gr. 1613. Other visual sources are listed in Dvořáková, V.: Šivetice. Dvořáková, V. – Krása, J. – Stejskal, K.: Středověká nástěnná malba na Slovensku. Praha – Bratislava, 1978, pp. 152154. Cf. also Gerát, Ivan: Život svätej Margity v stredovekej maľbe na Slovensku, in: Pamiatky a múzeá 2002, č. 3, pp. 4347.

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  • 64. Binski, P.: Medieval Death. Ritual and Representation, Ithaca–New York 1996, pp. 2933.

  • 65. Among the examples are the pilgrims at the grave of St. Nicolaus on the retable from Kremnica (Körmöczbánya, Kremnitz; around 1476, today in Budapest, MNG, see note 50) and the pilgrims at the grave of St, Anthony, Sásová (see note 24).

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  • 66. Goodich, M.: Vita Perfecta: The Ideal of Sainthood in the Thirteenth Century, Stuttgart 1982, p. 6.