Saint Matthew from the Ebbo Gospe

Saint Matthew from the Ebbo Gospe


(music) Female 1: We’re here at the International Congress
on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo. We’re looking at the Ebbo Gospels. This is Matthew from the Ebbo Gospels, dated around 820s, 830s. Female 2: What we see
here is the evangelist composing his Gospel book, hunched over writing very energetically. Something that makes this gospel book particularly interesting
is this charged, energetic, very expressive style in contrast
to the more modeled images of even the same period and especially of late antique and classical painting. You can see he’s writing with his stylus. Female 1: So we see Medieval
materials at work here. Female 2: Right. Female 1: And how
Medieval people wrote with one hand with the stylus, the other hand with an ink horn. Sometimes when I see
images, Medieval manuscripts of people writing, I
also see one hand holding a stylus and the other
hand holding a knife which holds the page down. Female 2: It is interesting, he’s writing in a codex which became popular with the advent of Christianity. The life of the codex,
or book as we know it, took off with Christianity. Female 1: You mentioned
these, I think of them as frenzied lines. We think of this book and
we think of this artist, the Ebbo master, and we
think of these frenzied, crazy lines, and when I think of this, I think of the Utrecht
Psalter and that these lines must have been how Carolingian artists interpreted classical drawing style. Female 2: I think it’s also interesting because this is a distinct style in contrast to other Carolingian works. Female 1: We see a little
classically inspired landscape with buildings
in the upper part, again a very classical motif. Female 2: We should
note Matthew’s attribute up in the upper right-hand
corner, which is a winged man. Each of the Gospel writers has their own attribute, which is related
to the Book of Revelation. Female 1: And the four Apocalyptic beasts. Female 2: Yeah, the
four Apocalyptic beasts. Very early on in Christianity
this gets associated with the Gospel writers. Matthew is the winged man. Mark is the lion. Luke is the bull. John is the Eagle. Female 3: When we use
the term Carolingian, what we really mean is art at the time of Charlemagne. Charlemagne was crowned
the Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day in the year 800, and he was a really big reformer. He engaged in art reform by encouraging artists and scribes to study and copy the artistic and writing
styles of ancient books. Those styles were more naturalistic, kind of unlike most Medieval artists. Charlemagne was particularly interested in reviving the artistic styles that were used in the early Christian period, and particularly those associated with the Roman Emperor, Constantine. Female 1: With Carolingian
art, we see artists trying to wrestle with
issues of perspective, and trying to bring back a greater sense of realistically representing
figures in three dimensions. I see several ways in which the
artist is trying to do that. One of them is that, we’re
looking at the leg here. I see all this highlighting,
which is bringing the leg forward to us;
where this frenzied line style allows for a lot of highlighting and shadowing, and the shadows recede. I see the artist wrestling with trying to give us a more three-dimensional view of Matthew, while at the same time the artist is missing
badly in the footstool here and its very strange position in relation to where Matthew was actually sitting. Female 2: Yeah, and
this awkward flattening. There’s no foreshortening attempted in the stand for the book. It effectively presents
the book to the viewer in an interesting way, and I think does emphasize the act of
writing and composition, which is, of course,
important for an evangelist. (music)

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