Ottonian art

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Ottonian art

Ottonian art (ŏtōˈnēən), art produced (c.900–1050) in the East Frankish kingdom of Germany known, after the emperors Otto (936–1002), as the Ottonian kingdom. Influenced by Byzantine and Carolingian forms, Ottonian basilicas, such as St. Michael at Hildesheim (1001–36), are simple, blocklike, symmetrical structures with wide aisles and vast expanses of bare wall. Ottonian religious sculpture is monumental in scale and executed with clear, round forms and highly expressive facial features. The wooden Gero Crucifix (969–76; Cologne Cathedral) reflects a humanitarian concern for the sufferings of Jesus. Sophisticated relief bronzes were cast for the cathedral doors at Hildesheim (1015). Ottonian manuscript illumination was superbly developed; produced at several flourishing artistic centers, including Regensburg and Fulda, it combined Carolingian and Byzantine influences. Manuscripts such as the Gospel Book of Otto II are two-dimensional, figural, and linear, incorporating much gold leaf.


See J. Beckwith, Early Medieval Art (1985); K. N. Ciggaar, Byzantium and the Low Countries in the Tenth Century: Aspects of Art and History in the Ottonian Era (1985).

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