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1 CONSTRUCTING SACRED SPACE: THE ST. URSULA RELIQUARY IN THE HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN By LAURA BETH RANDALL A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE D EGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Laura Randall
3 To Clara Randall
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would first like to thank my thesis advisor, Elizabeth Ross, for her wise insight and guidance throughout my research. I am also indebted to my committee member Joyce Tsai. Dr. Ross and Dr. Tsai have provided me with an invaluable education at the University of Florida I am forever grateful to these women. I would also like to thank Stephanie Leitch, whose undergraduate lectures in Northern Renaissance inspired me to journey to Bruges. Thank you to the School of Art and Art History for their support and encouragement, especially Alyssa Abraham, Ashleigh Lynch, and Dan Jakubowski. I am very grateful to Brett Bricker who graciously edited my writing. Finally, I would li ke to thank my family Alan, Trish, Dana, Robert, and Joseph for their unwavering patience and faith.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 7 The Augustinian Effect on Late Medieval Vision ................................ ..................... 12 St. Augustine in the Twelfth Century ................................ ................................ ....... 15 2 CORPOREAL VISION ................................ ................................ ............................ 21 Commission of the St. Ursula Reliquar y ................................ ................................ 21 The Program of the Saint Ursula Reliquary ................................ ............................ 24 Bodily Devotion: Religious Processions and Theater ................................ ............. 29 3 SPIRITUAL VISION ................................ ................................ ................................ 33 Spiritual Pilgrimage and Simultaneous Narrative ................................ .................... 33 Portraying Pilgrimage ................................ ................................ .............................. 36 4 INTELLECTUAL VISION ................................ ................................ ........................ 40 ................................ ................................ .. 40 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 45 A PPENDIX : FIGURE CITATIONS ................................ ................................ .............. 47 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 49 BIOGRAPHAPICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ....................... 53
6 Abstract of T hesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of M aster of Arts CONTSTRUCTING SACRED SPACE: THE ST. URUSUL A RELIQUARY IN THE HOSPITAL OF ST. JOHN By Laura Beth Randall August 2012 Chair: Elizabeth Ross Major: Art History Netherlandish painter, Hans Memling, was one of the most successful painters in Bruges at the end of the fifteenth century. The artist pr oduced a range of works including altarpieces for public and private chapels, devotional paintings, a large number of portraits, and a reliquary for the Hospital of St. John in Bruges. In this study, I examine the St. Ursula Reliquary commissioned for the hospital in 1489. The reliquary contains the remains of the fifth century princess, Saint Ursula and her eleven thousand virgin companions. The St. Ursula Reliquary stands out in Netherlandish art for its liturgical use and atypical style within the tra dition of reliquaries. at medieval aspects of vision, particularly St. Augu Book 12 of De Genesi ad litteram
7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION On October 21, 1489, the church of th e Hospital of St. John in Bruges held a ceremony for the transfer of the relics of St. Ursula and her companions. 1 The new reliquary crafted by local painter Hans Memling, was not only unique to the oeuvre but also to the tradition o f reliquaries. 2 W ooden reliquaries wer e not unprecedented at the time; 1400 (fig. 1 ) was painted wood. T he fact that Memling painted the reliquary in the contemp orary style however, makes the St. Ursula Reliquary (f ig.2) a rare and remarkable object. 3 Even m ore enchantin g are the way s in which the artist plays with the form and medium of the reliquary as well as the experience, to activate the imagery. The St. Ursula Reliquary takes the traditional shape of a hous e or chapel with gilded oak intended to mimic the look of metalwork shrines. 4 Niched within its four pillars are sculpted saints: St. John the Evangelist, St. James, St. Agnes, and St. Elizabeth. 5 Memling decorated the gabled roof with gold tracery, pinna cles, and trompe architecture. The tondos on the roof are filled 1 Dir k De Vos, Hans Memling: The Complete Works ( Ghent: Ludion Press, 1994), 146. 2 St. Ursula Shrine: the Subject as Object in Mental Pilgrimage Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles ed. Sarah Blick (Leiden: Brill 2005), 59. 3 It may be that wooden reliquaries were more popular than surviving evidence indicates. However, painting in the contemporary Flemish style is unprecedented in the reliquary tradition. See J eanne St. Ursula Shrine 59. For a discussion of this problem in relation to Flemish panel painting see Jean Wilson, Painting in Bruges at the Close of the Middle Ages: Studies in Society and Visual Culture (University Par k: Pennsylvania State University Press 1998 ), 14 15; see also Northern Renaissance Art (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008). 4 De Vos, Hans Memling, 296 5 De Vos, Hans Memling 301
8 with painted figures from the scenes below. The structure of the reliquary is similar to traditional gothic cathedrals. The gothic skeleton hug s the sides of the reliquary with an arcade that frames s ix illusionistic scenes of the St portentous journey. The activity in the Rhineland and eventual martyrdom in Cologne. The ends of the reliquary feature St Ursula with her maidens and the Virgin and Child (fig.3 ) encased in a c hapel space. The eight brightly colored panels appear as surrogates for stained glass windows. The strikingly similar Paradise portal of the Church of Our Lady (fig.4 ) which is directly a cross from St. T he commission of the St. Ursula Reliquary speaks to new mater ial values in art that reflect the spiritual attitudes of the period. Through the study of devotional texts, cultural practices, and artistic conventions, one can perceive the impetus behind the rise of naturalism in devotional painting. My goal is to demo nstrate how the visual efficacy of the St Ursula R e liquary quest s : the experience of divine vision. 6 To focus on the complexity and beauty of the mling, was to participate in a deep spiritual meditation on its divine nature 7 6 See Sixten Ring bom, Icon to Narrative: the Rise of the Dramatic Close up in Fifteenth Century Devotional Painting (Doornspijk: Davaco 1984) 16 Simiolus 15 (1985), 87 Visio Dei : C Visuality Before and Beyond the Renaissance (Cambridge 2000), 169 196. 7 I am referring the structure of divine contemplation theory, which had various interpretations throughout the Middle Ages. For example, t he influential monastic writer Abbot Suger believed that outward splendor honored God and inspired spiritual contemplation. For an art historical discussion of his theory see Herbert Kessler Vitrum Vestitum and the use of Materia Saphirorum s St. Spiritual Seeing: Picturing God 's Invisibility in Medieval Art (Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press 2000), chapter 8.
9 For most of the fifteenth century, Bruges was the financial epicenter of the north. It was during this time, in 1465, that the German born painter, Hans Memling purchased ci tizenship in Bruges. 8 From 1465 until the year of his death in 1494, Memling ran the most lucrative artistic workshop in Bruges. The artist was among the wealthiest ten percent of Bruges citizens in 1480. This was also the decade that marks the beginning of economic decline and artistic activity. 9 After the death of Charles the Bold at the battle of Nancy in 1477 and the death of Maximilian of Austria attempted to gain control the northern region. The conflict lasted most of the brief triumph and eventual defeat in 1488. 10 The political and economic chaos drove The impact t hat t he clashes had on social and religious environment is difficult to discern, but aspects of lay behavior reveal certain anxieties people held over death and salvation in the period. 11 The most intense period of religious processions occurred in the 1480s when Br uges suffered from political turmoil. The civic engagement in prayer and penitential behavior at this time was a desperate call for peace and immediate salvation. 12 The public exhibition of worship enacted throughout Bruges visually illustrates the way spir 8 Barbara Lane, Hans Memling: Master Painter in Fifteenth Century Bruges (London: Harvey Miller 2009), 95. 9 Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bruges 10 12 November 1994) (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), 38; Lane Hans Memling 96 10 Maryan W. Ainsworth, Gerard David : Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition ( New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998), 1 2. 11 Andrew Brown, Civic Ceremony and Religion in Medieval Bruges c.1300 1520 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 282 288. 12 Brown, Civic Ceremony 86.
10 especially the Procession of the Holy Blood, were testament to the sacred identity of Bruges. Between 1480 and 1488, Memling completed 24 paintings, the majority made for local clients, including two executed for the Hospital of St. John 13 Like the response of s citizens through participation in liturgical acts, the spike in commissions among local patrons paintings reflect s similar eschatological concerns 14 Personal medi tation and piousness were means fo r R eligious paintings often functioned as aids in personal meditation. 15 Although religious expression through bod ily devotion (e.g. kneeling, processions and flogging) stands in contrast to the more passive visual devotion, these aspects of devotion intertwine. The St. Ursula Reliquary illustrates some of the way s that visual and bodily devotion relate. The reliquary w as a precious liturgical object that was only displayed o n the feast day o f St. Ursula. In many ways, the St. Ursula Reliquary mimics the spiritual space of Bruges: the reliquary contains actual body parts, takes the shape of a local building, and as I will argue, sees with divine vision (the goal of worshipers of the time). Thi s thesis will explore how the St. Ursula Reliquary embodies the spiritual i deals of the late r Middle Ages. I use the term embody in a literal sense, as the reliquary was designed to hold and maintain the material remains in which t he divine inheres. Furthe r, the 13 Lane, Hans Memling 96. 14 Maximilian Martens of works where patrons have been identified. Martens found that most of his paintings were made for local and Italian patrons. Me 1484. The 1480s marks his greatest period of activity; the peak of works made for local patrons was between 1480 1484. Local patrons declined gradually after 1485. In the last phase from 1490 1494, his Italian clientele disappeared entirely. See s: A 41. 15 Lane, Hans Memling 112.
11 reli quary is not simply a representation of this concept, but an actual instance of divine vision, a medieval theological concept describing the direct union between human subjectivity and God. I will also show how theological engagement with August theory of vision reflec ts certain aspects of medieval culture in relation to this liturgical object Chapter one Corporeal Vision, will focus on the St. Ursula Reliquary and its commission for the Hospital of St. John I examine the function of the object, subject matter, and possibl e artistic models Memling used for his execution Through an engagement with the painted surface, the carnal aspects of vision can initiate s piritual meditation with the object. I also explore the relation between bodily and visual devotion. In refer en cing religious processions and popular theater through somatic imagery the paintings assert the use of the human body as a vehicle for d evotion. The devotional experience is enhanced by the physical participation of the viewer who must encircle the shrine to follow the story of journey In chapter two Spiritual Vision, I will show how the paintings on the sides of the shrine aid in a spiritual meditation. T he subject, the Legend of St. Ursula, provides a visualization of the desired mental images for viewers. The execution of the panels confers with t he popular meditational practice of making spiritual pilgrimage s to the Holy Land. In c hapter three I analyze the concept of intellectual vision and the goal for achieving communion with the divine. 16 D espite remaining an abstract form of spiritual meditation, I will show how the ambiguity of real space and implausible space in Mem paintings visual ly illustrate s this ideal. 16 Ringbom Icon to Narrative 1 5 17.
12 The prominent position Memling held in the communi ty undoubted ly excited patrons half of whom were foreign to commission his artwork. 17 The completion of the St. John Altarpiece (fig 5 ) in 1479 for the Ho spital of St. John inspired emulation among donors. The donation of the panel, Seven Joys of the Virgin (fig. 15 ) to the Church of Our Lady by Pieter Bultinc one year later, is one example of this 18 Beyond the appeal of owning a work by the popular painte r, can a deeper investigation of his paintings evince their cultural attraction? In the section that follows I provide a brief explanation on how the era of private devotion was in part a corollary of theories of vision To understand the role of St. Ursu la Reliquary and how it embodies spiritual ideals we m ust first consider not simply what people viewed but how they viewed these images. The Augustinian Effect on Late Medieval Vision The character of late medieval spirituality owed heavily to the wr itings of St. Augustine of Hippo The t heory of sight laid out in his fifth century work De Genesi ad litteram influenced various models of medieval vision. In B ook 12, Augustine analyzes the vision of Paradise as seen by St. Paul Paul provides a rather obscure account where he ther in the body or 19 Augustine description of Paradise to devise a meth od for explaining vision H e divides vision in three parts: corporeal, spiritual, and intellectual vision. 20 He elucidates the division in chapter six: 17 Lane, Hans Memling 115 116. 18 Mar Hans Memling and his Patron 19 Augustine of Hippo, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Volume 1, trans. by John Hammond Taylor (New York: Paulist Press 1982), 178 231.
13 When we read this one commandment, You shall love your neighbor as yourself we experience three kinds of vision: one through the eyes, by which we see the letters; a second through the s pirit, by which we think of our neighbor even when he is absent; and a third through an intuition of the mind, by which we see and 21 It is evident from the passage that the notion of corporeal vision relates to the faculty of visi on, what one sees with the eyes of the body. When St. Augustine developed his influential theory of vision, he did not interpret corporeal sight as we do now. Early optical theorist since the time of Augustine believed the eye emitted a visual ray. 22 When t he visual ray encountered an object, it took the shape of that object and absorb ed light, it then returned The extramission theory subscribed to by Plato, waned by the late Middle Ages, as scientists generally a scribed to an intromission theory of optics. 23 Medieval theology never explicitly discussed optical theories of vision; instead, theologians explored the implications of vision theory as it pertained to important questions concerning ontology and psychology 24 Although a scientific understanding of vision would have escaped average medieval viewers, it is important to note how these theories migrated to the experience of the world. When t he Fourth Lateran Council decree d that Christ was physically pre sent in the Eucharist this affected how one viewed the host. Communion was enacted visually In the 20 Augustine, Literal Meaning of Genesis 178 179. 21 Augustine, Literal Mean ing of Genesis 185. 22 Hahn, Visio Dei 174 175. 23 David Lindberg, Theories of Vision from Al Kindi to Kepler (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1976), 145. 24 Lindberg, Theories of Vision 139 140.
14 Neoplatonic tradition t to become cleansed and healed by its power. 25 Inherent in s see the absent are the remnants of corporeal vision. Augustine viewed physical vision as a process of training, a useful and necessary me ans for reaching the next level of vision. 26 Just as physical sight requires light, divine illumination is central to spiritual vision As religious scholar Margar e t Miles ex plain s divine illumination is the sine que non of spiritual vision. Focusing the e ye of the mind on God becomes possible and strengthened through divine illumination. According to Miles, corporeal vision and spiritual vision is a two way street. soul votes with its feet sheds light on the role of faith in spiritual vision 27 The selection of an object through physical process of spiritual vision, in the hopes one will 28 The relationship August ine devises for corporeal and spiritual vision works as a model for describing the process of cognition 29 Neo p latonic construction of vision plays a v ital role, where emission from the eye allows for the direct interaction between an object and the human soul. 30 Augustine regarded the prolonged gaze of corporeal 25 Joseph Koerner, The Reformation of the Image ( Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2004), 71. 26 and Confession Journal of Religion 63:2 (1983), 126 127. 27 131 28 Ibid 134. 29 Ibid ., 126 127; Lindberg, Theories of Vision 96. 30 127.
15 vision as a metaphor for contemplation of the divine 31 A deeper engagement with an image guaranteed its fixation in the soul. The third mode of vision was the ultimate goal of the medieval worship ers. of God as either in or out of the body incorporeal substance 32 Like the other modes of vis ion which required training and focus intellectual vision n ecessitates concentration of love on God. It is no t by coincidence that is steeped in the aroma of mystics. This form of vision was the same mysti cal union through love that St. Bernard of Clairvaux so warmly embraced the bridegroom! For S t. Bernard, pivoted on ardent love toward God. He des cribed the union of man and God in the language of a courtly romance sanctioned in th e Song of Songs St. Augustine in the Twelfth Century St. Bernard of Clair century on devotional meditation originated from the Augustinian division of sight. St. Bernard of Clairvaux elaborated on ries, especially those pertaining to t he flesh and body. Augustinian 33 The body is dually subject to its carnal desires (flesh ) and the spirit. For Bernard, the flesh made the body sinful 31 Hahn, Visio Dei 184. 32 Augustine, Literal Meaning of Genesis 183. 33 Suzannah Biernoff, Sight and Embodiment in the Middle Ages ( New York : Palgrave, 2002), 34.
16 34 Because the extramission model ended in the ret urn of rays to the eye, to become an 35 the contamination of the mind required a closing of the senses from the exterior world (mysticism derives from my 36 ). Closing sensory apertures allowed one to contemplate in Song of Songs 37 The Cistercian c loister instantiates this restri ction. T he walls of the cloister operate like the closing of the senses both designed to guard 38 appears dichotomous to the sensual rhetoric of hi s sermons. 39 His justification for this rhetoric comes from divine sources. Bernard delivered eighty six sermons on the Song of Songs 40 His doctrine speaks above all to the importance of man directing his love for God and finding iption of divine love is similar to the oscillatory relationship 34 For a discussion on corporeal vision and flesh see Suzanna Biernoff Sight and Embodiment especially chapter 2. 35 Biernoff, Sight and Embodiment 54. 36 Koerner, Reformation of the Image 140. 37 Biernoff, Sight and Embodiment 118 38 Biernoff Sight and Embodiment 114 120. 39 For a discussion of the polarity of corporeal and spiritual vision see Suzanna Beirnoff section on the Sight and Embodiment 114 120. 40 Irene Edmonds, Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs vol ume 1, trans. Killian Welsh (Spencer: Cistercian Publications 1971), ix.
17 41 Bernard harnesses the sensual language of the Song of Songs as a means to prepare f 42 ghly sensual rhetoric is also inherent in theory of vision. Spiritual vision consists of elevated dream or imaginative imagery, often dependent on the absorptio n of corporeal vision. Although intellectual vision i s imageless, it may arise from spiritual vision. 43 Augustine would have rejected corporeal senses from having access to the divine, 44 yet non sensory, imageless devotion may entail working through the first level of vision. This brings us back to Bernard, whose sermons rely on the sensual imagery of the Song of Songs Bernard app ropriated its descriptive language as metaphors in the same way that visual imagery can be interpreted symbolically For a start I feel that my comparison of scriptural history to a garden is not unwarranted, for in it we find men of many virtues, like fruitful trees in the 45 Bernard believed that deep reflection on the Song of Songs 46 Implicit in the pro powers while simultaneously rejecting their embeddness in the material world. 41 Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs 8:3, 4. 42 Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs 9:2, 54. 43 Hahn, Visio Dei 174. 44 Ibid 45 Bernard of Clairvaux On the Song of Songs 23: 2, 28 46 Biernoff, Sight and Embodiment 112 114.
18 century and his theories transformed late medie val devotion In addition to cultivating a n Augustinian concept of spiritual love, his sermons provided an impetus for the cult of the Virgin Mary and humanity of Christ. 47 culminated in a Franciscan work that capti vated readers in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries Meditations on the Life of Christ translated into every Western European language, provided readers with a way of understanding the lives of Jesus and Mary in a more familial way. The author, John of Calibus, 48 aimed to teach his pupil, a Poor Clare nun, about the life of Jesus using sensual language; the imagery allowed for a more personal relationship to the story. 49 True to the Bernardian principle, M editations on the L ife of C hrist was packed with descriptive imagery. The text was designed to aid in spiritual meditation and occasionally called upon the reader to participate. The reshaping of medieval spirituality owes heavily to Meditations on the Life of Christ ; a change evident in the plasti c arts and mystery plays of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 50 As I have mentioned, theories of optics shifted in the late Middle Ages. Scholars believe that since the time of the th irteenth century perspectivists 47 Bernard of Clairvaux On the Song of Songs 5 8 48 The author of the Meditations on the Life of Christ has long been disputed. The author has often been referred to as Pseudo Bonventur a, but is now identified as John of Calibus. See John of Calibus, Meditations on the Life of Christ ed. by Francis X. Taney ( Asheville : Pegasus Press, 2000) 49 Francis X. Taney, Meditations on the Life of Christ xxvii 50 Taney, Meditations on the Life of Christ xxvii xxix
19 most notably John Pecham, Roger B acon, and Thomas Aquinas optical theorists generally ascribed to an intromission theory of optics. 51 The change plays a role in how we can interpret Meditations on the Life of Christ and its relation to the visual arts. With the authority of vision no long er stemming f r om the viewer, the object gains power in the process of vision. intense scrutiny of the visible world, resulting in a hypersensitive subject. The threshold to the world of nature 52 S cholar s note that the language with which we have come to describe our experiences is primarily derived of vision and from attitudes in the later Middle Ages 53 For example p r fleeting g lance had literal meanings in the later Middle Ages. 54 Moreover, the language of describing the spiritual world hinges on experience of the physical world A s Bernard reminded his students : rock 55 T he direct relationship between the object and subject connectedness to the 51 See David Lindberg, Theories of Vision Visuality before and Beyond the Renaissance: Seeing as Others Saw (Cambridge: Cambridge Univer sity Press, 2000). 52 53 See Suzannah Biernoff, Margaret Miles, and Cynthia Hahn. 54 Biernoff, Sight and Embodiment 5. 55 Franois Cali, Bruges, the Cradle of Flemish Painting (Chicago : Randy McNally, 1964), 73.
20 external world. The need to distinguish oneself, physical objects, and even the nature of dreams or visions left its mark in Flemish painting. 56 56 Koer ner, Reformation of the Image 140 125 126.
21 CHAPTER 2 CORPOREAL VISION According to Augustine, an object perceived through corporeal vision is announced to spiritual vision. Therefore, this section is devoted to the physical appearance of the S t. Ursula Reliquary (fig.2). This chapter explores the history of the reliquary and h agiography of St. Ursula in art for the paintings. The final section on theater is concerned with the somatic character of these p aintings. Commission of the St. Ursula Reliquary One of the miracles the author of the Golden Legend attributed to Saint Ursula concerns the recovery of relics from her martyrdom The miracle recounts the story of an abbot who asked a Cologne ab bess for a body of one of the maidens killed in Cologne. The abbot promised to enshrine the body in a silver casket. A year passed and the body remained in a wooden box at the altar of his church monastery. And in a night as the abbot sang matins, the sai d virgin descended from the altar bodily, and inclined honourably be fore the altar, and went through the choir, seeing all the monks which, were thereof sore abashed, and then the abbot ran and found it all void and nothing therein. 1 After, the abbot be gged the Cologne abbess for a replacement, but he received nothing. The tale demonstrates the importance of honoring divine relics of saints In 1215, the Fo u rth Lateran Council decreed that relics must not be displayed outside their containers. 2 The frame materials like silver or ivory, and embellished with semi precious stones. The use of 1 Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend volume 6 ( London: Temple Classics, 1900), 30 33. 2 St. Ursula Shrine 56.
22 expensive materials not o worth. 3 The Hospital of St. John in Bruges commissioned a new reliquary completed in bones attributed to St. Ursula and her companions, a stone from Golgotha, a rock from the slaying of St. Stephan, a piece five other relics. 4 Like the original shrine from c. 1380 1400 (fig. 1 ), the new reliquary emphasized the conten ts of St. Ursula and her companions. The legend of Saint Ursula became popular in the fifteenth century, especially in the north where remains from her martyrdom were widely dispersed. 5 Completed in October 1489, the new reliquary appeared to be quite atyp ical. Although the shape of the vessel was in the traditional chapel format, Memling pilgrimage to Rome. A few factors may contribute to the design of the St. Ursula Reliquary At the time of the commission, the city of Bruges was facing economic decline. In a study of the commission of a painted reliquary in lieu of more expensive jewel metalwork wh ich she 6 recess ion quite well. The decade was marked by extreme violence between the city and the Emp eror Maximilian of Austria in a struggle for power. The struggle led to a decrease 3 Nuechterlein, Shrine 57. 4 De Vos, Hans Memling 52. 5 Nuechterlein, 55. 6 Nuechterlein, 60 61.
23 among foreign patrons, though the artist still managed to have the most successful decade of his career. 7 The Hospital of St John suffered financially from the mid to late fifteenth century before undergoing institutional reorganization. A group of lay brothers and sisters founded the hospital before i t became a religious community. in 1188 was inspired after a text by Saint Augusti ne requiring that administration be governed by city authorities and that care of the poor, sick, and travellers be left to a group of lay brothers and sisters. 8 The hospital generated income from charges, gifts, bequests, taxes, and earnings off its fishp onds, woods, and farm. 9 In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council decreed that communities like the Hospital of St. John adopt an approved religious rule. Members elected to follow the Rule of Augustine, a rule not unlike the hospital s first charter. The great est change for the hospital was the new law dictating that members of the community repudiate personal property. 10 In an effort to improve finances and weaken the control of city magistrates, the hospital underwent institutio nal re organization. The Charter of 1459 transferred the between the bishop and city. 11 finances. In the 1470s, the Hospital of St. John alo ng with other religious institutions 7 38. 8 Irne Smets, The Memling Museum -St John's Ho spital Bruges (Ghent : Ludion, 2001), 9. 9 Smets, Memling Museum 17. 10 Vida Hull, Hans Memling's Paintings for the Hospital of Saint John in Bruges (New York : Garland, 1981), 32 33. 11 Hull Hans Memling 36.
24 were required to pay for ducal grants to reduce recent endowments. 12 Shortly after, however, the hospital acqui red considerable land holdings; a fortunate turn of events St John Altarpiece (fig.5 ) by Memling 13 the hospital chapel from 1473 74. It is therefore likely the commission of a painted reliquary in the late 1480s was not i n the interest of frugality, but rather it was likely caused by a change in material values around that time elite may have ing the hospital already boasted two panel paintings by Memling: the St. John Altarpiece a nd the Floreins Triptych. Following the completion of members commissioned personal triptychs from Memling. 14 The rich imagery of the St. Ursula Reliquary suggests issues beyond finance were at play. The unusual visual program seems to elicit new values in art that reflect new ways of seeing. The Program of the Saint Ursula Reliquary In City of God St. Augustine praised th an extraordinary power 15 For Christians in the fifteenth century followers to grasp onto more tangible forms. People who desired visions sought to do so 12 Brown, Civic Ceremony 278. 13 Memling comp leted the (fig. 5) the central panel are two barrels of wine being unloaded by a crane. The inclusion in the background and control weights and measures to determine tolls. The fee for the testing was allotted to the hospital. See Hull, Hans Memling 38 40. 14 Nuechterlein 60 61. 15 Visio Dei 170.
25 by emulating saints. 16 The increased devotion t o Saint Ursula in the Rhineland was a natural outcome of this lay behavior. The hagiography of Saint Ursula comes from the Golden Legend a thirteenth century collection on the lives of saints. 17 According to the text, Ursula was the daughter of a Christi an king from Britain. The princess was known for her beauty, wisdom, and virtue, which garnered the attention of the pagan King of Anglia. The king resolved to wed his heir and son, Etherius, to the beautiful princess. Ursula consented to the marriage on t he condition that Etherius convert to Christianity. The arrangement enabled Ursula to embark on a three yea r pilgrimage to Rome before the wedding. Ten virgins accompanied Ursula, and each of these ten virgins brought one thousand virgin companions, who wo uld all convert to Christianity. On the return voyage in Cologne, they found the city held of marriage, his army attacked and massacred Ursula and the eleven t housand virgins. The tale of Urs 18 It is likely Memling knew of the many cycles of the St. Ursula L egend. 19 Just a few blocks from the Hospital of St. John at the convent of the Black Sisters, an altarpiece completed c. 1475 80 included scenes from the legend. The Bruges Master of the St. Ursula Legend painted the story in eight sections on the altarpiece wings (fig .6 ). 20 The first three scenes of the cycle recount In contrast to 16 Hahn, Visio Dei 196 ; H arbison, 93 94. 17 Voragine, The Golden Legend 30 33. 18 De Vos, Hans Memling 300 302 19 Lane, Hans Memling 164. 20 Nuechterlein 65 66.
26 Memling the Br uges Master set the narrative in Bruges. 21 A direct influence for Legend of St. Ursula divided the legend into fifteen panels, dates from a fter 1455 22 Some of r the shrine and poses of his figures, as we will see, borrow directly from this series. Unlik e early examples like the legend painted for the St. Ursula Church in Cologne in tw enty panels Memling abbreviates the story into six scenes. 23 Memling omits th greater emphasis on the journey. Memling begins the cycle with Arrival in Cologne (fig. 7 ). The scene depicts Ursula and her maidens disembarking at Cologne. Their two vessels are pictured from the bow in the left foreground. from the gangplank assisted by two companions. The arched gateway marks the pass ing through the city gates. The ladies usher in through the archway in a way that seems to invite viewers to follow in the procession. 24 The background features ine; the buildings are all identifiable, from left to right: the Baye nt ur m the towers of St. Maria Lyskirchen, the nave and tower of the the Great St. Martin, and the Cologne cathedral 25 Through two enlarged windows at the 21 Although much of the townscape in the Bruges Maste 65 66 22 De Vos, Hans Memling 302; Hull, Hans Memling 178. 23 Hull, Hans Memling 176 188. 24 Lane, Hans Memling 164. 25 De Vos, H ans Memling 297.
27 he 26 In the second panel, Arrival in Basel (fig .8 ), Memling positions the ships with views of the sterns The ladies once again are in the process of disembarking. The number of passengers on the vessels has doubled; its crew separated by gender. Two men at the treads the liminal space between land and sea. The townscape features a late Gothic tower, though the setting is overall fictive. 27 M emling includes eve nts from the next moment in the narrative at the far right 28 The third scene opens at the far left where Ursula and her companions usher Arrival in Rome (fig. 9 ), Memling alte rs the composition to suit the urban setting In the first two panels, he positions the perspective from the opposite bank of the Rhine. T he space unfolds to absorb the cities and landscapes. In this scene, however, it is as if the overlay s of arches envelop the scene. The overt emphasis on architectural elements serves to highlight the sacred space of the city and the Baptistery. In the foreground, Pope Cyriac emerges from the Baptistery to welcome the maidens. 29 Through the lar ge arch next to the pope, clergymen perform baptismal two episodes of cleansing mark t 26 Voragine Golden Legend, 31. 27 De Vos, Hans Memling 301. 28 Voragine Golden Legend 31. 29 Hull, Hans Memling 183 184
28 T of the shrine is Departure from Basel (fig.10 ). The narrative moves in a seamless zigzag from the gates, aboard the large ships, and down to the small tender. Instead of separating the subject with arches, Memling orchestrates a view of the vessels that al lows hi m to slice the figural groups using the ropes of the mast He depicts Ursula and the pope twice in the s cene; they embark on the stern ship and depart on the lower bow ship. Memling gave the greatest importance to the martyrdom scenes (fig. 11, 1 2 ) portraying the episodes in two panels. He reserv es the final panel for the martyr of Ursula in order to distinguish her saintly death. scenes comes from the fifteen panel Cologne cycle. In both, the dramatic fina le occurs on the right bank of the Rhine; the Ursulas gesture in polite refusal in the face of fully drawn archers. He unifies and Martyr of St. Ursula through a continuous landscape; Saint Ursula is in both scenes. In Colog ne, she rejects the chief of the Huns marriage proposal and willingly accepts her fate. 30 31 For such a violent act, Memling has executed the scenes of slaughter with a certain d ecorum When c the Bruges Master has left little room for mercy His pope is already decapitated and a Hun kneel s on the back of his victim for the coup de grce The Bruges Master rendered the scene more faith fully, there is no pregnant moment before the bloodshed; his account shock instead, what marks his portrayal 30 Lane, Hans Memling 165 168. 31 Cali, Bruges 34.
29 as true to l ife is the theatrical nature of each episode in the way it of city life. Bodily Devotion: Religious Processions and Theater Physical acts of praying, kneeling, flogging and participating in the liturgy relate to how one interprets the divine through the body. A t the heart of this ideology is the doctrine of the Incarnation, which itself justified the place of the body in worship. 32 The rise of bodily participation in part had to do with how lay relationships with Christ had become more personal. Thanks to writi ngs like the Meditation of the Life of Christ and a person participated in processions and plays that reenacted the life of Christ. 33 painting is the emphasis he placed on execution of the St. Ursula Reliquary as well as his other cyclical paintings: the Turin Scenes of the Passion (fig.1 4 ), the Seven Joys of the Virgin (fig. 15 ) and the Gr everade triptych. 34 For a Bruges resident, the emphasis on moving in and out of doorways or under arches recall ed religious procession 35 Ursula and her cortege flowing from scene to scene are like those who parade the streets of Bruges behind the Holy Blood Entering through archways was also similar to the triumphal entry of monarchs, not so unlike Phillip the Good or many entries into Bruges. A 32 Jeffrey Hamburger, The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Fe male Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany (New York: Zone Books, 1998 ), 26. 33 Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles ed. Sarah Blick (Leiden: Brill 2005), 29 31. 34 De Vos, Hans Memling 301. 35 Empathetic constructions in early Netherl andish painting: Narrative and Reception in the a rt of Hans Memlin (PhD Diss., University of Texas, Austin 2003), 48.
30 miniature from the late fifteenth century illustrates the humiliation ritual of ducal entrie s (fig .13 Ghent, like the ones per formed in Bruge s in 1437 and 1440 where the duke forced ten citizens to abase themselves. They greeted him kneeling, bareheaded, and barefoot. 36 In a Christian procession modeled after Roman processions, the men and women zigzag through the streets in a trajectory similar to the processional character of People imagined Bruges as the New Jerusalem during religious processions. For t he Proces sion of the Holy Blood, enacted each year on May 2 nd number s of follow er s came to witness the Holy Blood as i t was paraded through the city During these liturgical processions, narrative scenes were set up along the routes, erected in wagons, or performe d by actors 37 On the St. Ursula Reliquary panels, t here is a processional quality in the way figur es travel through the scenes. Like the stops made at important sites in a Passion procession ( i.e. the stations of the cross), the episodes on the shrine h av e a stop and go feel to them. The isolation of each episode allows the viewer to pause and reflect on certain moments in the story. Arrival at Basel (fig. 8 ) baits viewers, inviting them along The viewer can act as an imaginative pedestrian in the scenes 38 36 Wilson, Pain ting in Bruges at the Close of the Middle Ages 34 36. 37 Mitzi Kirkland Ives, Narrative Performance and Devotional E xperi ( Ph.D. Diss. University of California, Santa Barbara, 2005), 38. 38 Kirkland
31 After the Procession of the Holy Blood, the festival continued with a feast followed by a performance 39 The members of various brotherhoods performed the mystery plays The sets and decoration for the plays were the work of local painters 40 Historians of Flemish art often look to the way these theatrical performances have influenced pai nters. 41 The influence is undeniable. The architectural features painted on the St. Ursula Reliquary have a stage like quality to them. The costumes and props invoke the theatricality of the scene. Francois Cali 42 The icon ic figures of the Virgin and Child and St. Ursula with her maidens at the ends of the shrine may work like dramatic devices popular in the thirteenth throu gh the fifteenth century A toog (plural togen painting, presented as a scene within a scene, found most commonly in Flemish theater. 43 These scenes, or togen usually appeared at the end of a play after the unveiling of a curtain. The play would be secular but the toog would always be a religious theme such as a Resurrection or Last Supper. The toog depended on the context of the play; the scene was always silent. When the toog is unveiled, it signals a shif t in the play from words to images. The toog represented the revelation o 39 Cali, Bruges 37. 40 Cali, Bruges 37; Wilson, Painting in Bruges at the Close of the Middle Ages 13 39. 41 See Francois Cali, Bruges ; Mitzi Kirkland Ives, 42 Cali, Bruge s 34. 43 Coleman, 50.
32 main character. 44 The placement of the Virgin and Child and St. Ursula at the ends of the shrine could be togen J ust before a toog appears within the scene, a character in the play may ask, 45 T he imagery conjured by that question is best exemplified by the chapel setting in which the Virgin and Child and St. Ursula figu res inhabit. In the case of the St. Ursula Reliquary a vessel encasing the divine, the metaphor of the s very literal meaning. The impression of visual imagery on the soul, incised upon seeing the St. Ursula Reliquary positions the viewer for the second mode of vision. 44 Coleman, Empathetic c onstructions 51. 45 Coleman, Empathetic constructions 52.
33 CHAPTER 3 SPIRITUAL VISION Augustine distinguished the spiritual from corporeal think of absent bodies in imagination whether recalling in memory object s that we know, or somehow forming unknown objects which are in the power of thought 1 This mode of seeing without the physical eye is central to forms of devotional meditation in the late Middle Ages. In t his chapter I examine th e artistic tradition of representing simultaneous narratives in a single space. This type of representation participates in a devotional trend of the time known as spiritual pilgrimage. I will look at how the St. Ursula Reliquary functions in this meditati onal process and how the work relates to similar paintings. Spiritual Pilg rimage and Simultaneous Narrative Spiritual pilgrimage is a late medieval devotional practice by which one could earn indulgences. Since the time of the first crusade in 1215, th ose who traveled to the Hol y Land earned plenary indulgenc es. By the mid fourteenth century, indulgencies for pilgrimage increased dramatically. 2 Alternatively, focusing step by step on the events and settings of the Passion could earn the devotee the same indulgences as those earned by making an actual pilgrimage to the Holy Land. 3 Since the fourteenth century, pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land mapped and recorded with anecdotal detail important sites where one could obtain indulgencies. 4 Artists in the fifteenth century utilized 1 Augustine, Literal Meaning of Genesis 193. 2 Kathryn M. Rudy, "A Guide to Mental Pilgrimage: Paris, Bibliothque d e l'Arsenal Ms.212," Zeitschrift fr Kunstgeschichte 63 (2000), 494. 3 Vida Hull, 30 4 Lane, Hans Memling 154.
34 pilgrims' guides to assist with illustrations of the theme. eye view of Jerusalem, packed with several narrative events, provided a visual aid for one to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage. Paintings like Memli Scenes of the Passion (fig. 1 4 ) and Seven Joys of the Virgin (fig. 15 ) enhanced the experience of spiritual pilgrimage. Images that visualized spiritual pilgrimage employ a form of representation known as Simultanbilder the distribution of seve ral narrative scenes into one continuous landscape. The origins of the tradition are German, but simultaneous representations haven been traced to the beginning of the fifteenth century in the Southern Netherlands. 5 S imultanbilder for example, his Turin Scenes of the Passion of around 1470 with the German Wasservas Calvary of 1420 (fig .1 6 ). 6 The two donors of the Wasservas kneel together in prayer at the lower left of the composition, the same place as the donor in t he Turin panel. The Scenes of the Passion includes events like the Nailing of Ch rist to the Cross which are unknown in Flemish ar t, but included in the Wasserva s version. In earlier forms of the tradition, scenes are often crowded resulting in an ambiguou s narrative. 7 his ability to incorporate more episodes into one single view, while still maintaining a greater sense of spatial unity and coherence than his predecessors provide d 8 Episodes transpire in isolated spaces, marked off t hrough walls, coulisses, hills, and other 5 Maurit Memlingiana: From Hemling to Memling -From Panoramic View to Compartmented Represent ation Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bruges 10 12 November 1994) (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), 179. 6 Hans Memling 7 8 182.
35 the Holy Land is remarkable for its ability 9 Paintings that aid in spiritual pilgrimage thematized the goal of pilgrimage. For example, Barbara Lane interpret ed several figures in the Scenes of the Passion as contemporary pilgrim s The observer c ould relate to the idea of pilgrimage via pilgrim s represented in the painting. Figures like the man and child walking on the path outside the town wall (fig. 14 ) The inactivity and distance exhibited by figures at these sacred places leads scholars to believe they are pilgrims. 10 The subject of the St. Ursula Reliquary is itself a story of pilgrimage, heightened by the journey. A panoramic view of the landscape provided a visualizatio n of spiritual pilgrimage. In contrast, the segmenting of multi episodic scenes in a polyptych connotes different functions. Maurit Smeyers distinguished these functions in a comparison of Scene s of the Passion and a h dated around 1500. 11 The Scenes of the Passion and there is a clear relationship between the imagery. T he triptych however, does not follow the sequence in chro nological order. Smeyers deduces that t his is because only the themes of the episodes were importa nt for the function of the image not their order The size, subject, and compartmentalized views in the lat t er, indicate that this panel 9 182 184. 10 Lane, Hans Memling 153. 11 190.
36 functioned for personal prayer, but not for spiritual pilgr image 12 N ineteen of the twenty four scenes on the Memlingian triptych include Mary. The cycle begins with the Annunciation and ends with the Coronation of the Virgin a trend found in most Rosary illustrations in the Rhineland. 13 The Rosary prayer developed in the Rhineland in the late fifteenth century. Alanus de Rupe a preacher in Lille, established the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary printed for the first time in Ulm in 1483. Rupe encouraged one to fix the eyes on a corresponding image during the Rosary prayer. 14 The use of the Memlingian triptych was likely for identification with Jesus and Mary during mediation. This distinction raises questions about the function of the St. Ursula Reliquary where the sequence of the narration matters. Portraying Pilg rimage Despite their separation by columns, there is great spatial and temporal unity between the panels. This is similar to the unified view of Jerusalem in Scenes of the Passion It appears as if the Rhine flows through the shri ne; its current both drives and unites the narration. The ships sailed south and tied up on the left back of the Rhine, placing Cologne on the right. When the maidens return to Cologne, they sail on the right bank so that Cologne appears on the opposite le ft of the Rhine. 15 The movement of the maidens in the first panel does not correspond however, with the plausible direction of their voyage. As Jeanne Nuechterlein observed, if they moved south, then that would entail the ladies disembarking and traveling left, yet 12 Ibid., 190 192. 13 Ibid ., 193. 14 Ibid .,192. 15 De Vos, Hans Memling 301.
37 Memling has them moving right out of the picture. 16 In this case, he has sacrificed accuracy in favor of maintaining a left to right movement in the narrative. establishe d tradition. Both the Col ogne Ursula cycles include well known buildings in the background. Similarly, Bruges painters incorporated parts o f the city in religious scenes. In the background of the St. John Altarpiece (fig.5 ) commissioned for the chapel of before the reliquary, Memling painted a crane that was in place at the time he created the work. This was the first instance when Memling incorporated contemporary Bruges in his painting 17 Representations of the may serve as a form of civic p ride. Jeanne Nuechterlein argues that the choice of portraying Cologne reflect ed a concern for connecting the subject to its the actual setting 18 Portraying the correct location of the story may have authenticate d the represen tation. In the case of the St. Ursula Reliquary the topographical accuracy of Cologne certified its efficacy as a liturgical object. 19 A reliquary was intended to provide a link between the physical and spiritual. It was therefore important to bridge th e connection between the saint and the place of her martyrdom. previous accounts in Flemish painting. The Master of the St. Ursula Cycle in Bruges placed the scenes all within Bruges 20 This was the case for many religious paintings of 16 Nuechterlein, 66 67. 17 Coleman, 117. 18 Nuechterlein, 69. 19 Nuechterlein, 70. 20 Nuechterlein, 65.
38 the period. Devotional texts of the time encouraged the devout to imagine the life of Christ and the Virgin in familiar places like the home or nearby buildings. When portraying chronicles o f the Passion, the topographical accuracy of holy places was rare in Flemish art. 21 Memling painted three of the Cologne scenes on the shrine with such accuracy of the cityscape, that it supports scholarly opinion that Memling spent time in Cologne 22 Placi ng parts of the journey in Cologne may have to do with the proximity of the city, whereas a journey to Jerusalem was not as practical for artists. When Bernhard von Breydenbach traveled to the H oly Land in 1483, he brought an artist to sketch buildings and vie ws of the city. This instance of book illustration was unheard of before the time. 23 The trend for represe nting places accurately reflected new attitudes about travel. If Memling did in fact travel to Cologne, and it is likely that he did, he based hi s view of the city from his own experience 24 This could relate to a new concern for contemporary experience. experience, the artist suggests his own experience. The n ew accuracy helps viewers connect their lived experiences with the subject. These attitudes reflect societal interest s in tangible subjects. The painting acts in accordance to the instructions laid out in Meditation on the Life of Christ the 25 21 Smeyers, 182. 22 De Vos, Hans Memling 142. 23 Nuechterlein, 73. 24 Nuechterlein, 74; De Vos, Hans Memling ,18.
39 and spatial continuity, the episodes appeared to occur all at once in a way that transcend s time. A pilgrim visiting the Holy Land imagines the events of the Passion, but understands them through present experience of city. experience unfolds over the time it takes to walk the narrow streets of the city During local reenactments of the Pa ssion someone watching the actor carry a cross can imagine himself as a contemporary witness to event. The process of spiritual pilgrimage in the form of spiritual vision, allows one to transcend time and space. spiritual pilgri mage because, through his use of continuous narrative and geographical accuracy geographical space. T he St. Ursula Reliquary represents what simultaneous happening as viewed by the Almighty himself and freed from the constrictions of time Space is one and time is expressed only through the spatial 26 25 Smeyers, 184; Taney Mediations xxvii. For a history of pilgrimage indulgences see Kathryn Rudy, "A Guide to Mental Pilgrimage: Paris, Bibliothque de l'Arsenal Ms.212," Zeitschrift fr Kunstgeschichte 63 (2000), 494 515. 26 De Vos, Hans Memling 402.
40 CHAPTER 4 INTELLECTUAL VISION described divine vision in relation to concepts such as wisdom and justice to show how 1 Since divine vision is imageless and therefore has no substa nce, I consider how the St. Ursula Reliquary visually alludes to abstract spiritual concepts. I n this chapter, I will explore artistic techniques and its relevance to spiritual themes. through Metaphor and Matter U ntil the year 1300, on the Friday comm emorating its arrival in Bruges, the Relic of the Holy Blood would miraculously liquefy from its congealed state. Inside the crystal Josep h of Arimathea used to clean body. 2 A century later, the Hospital of St. John would house a relic with similar transformative powers. The St. Ursula Reliquary reveals similar revelatory powers, where oil has d in to rich, illusionistic scenes. Art historians often explore the notion of artist as genius. Jeffrey Hamburger binds image and artist, man to 3 The belief in the transformation of matter promulg ated medieval religious rituals and wa s central to the Eucharist. The Mass was a r e acted as a 1 Augustine, Literal M eaning of Genesis 183. 2 Brown, Civic Ceremony 40; Cali, Bruges 35 36. 3 Jeffrey weep Res 31 (1997), 17.
41 redemptive sacrifice for the living and those in Purgatory. 4 The language of Christian doctrine hinges on the relationsh ip between matter and metaphor, likewise imagery visually communicates spiritual ideas through matter. There are two t ypes of illusionism Memling used for the reliquary : an artistic tec hnique of visual mimicry to disguise the painted surface ; and illusionism, the re presentation of plausible space that is similar to the space inhabited by the viewer. is an innovation often associate d with s well known predecessor, Jan Van Eyck. artistic achievements was his play with the effects of light on reflective surfaces, especially reliquary, the roof is painted to imitate the look metalwork shines, as if the tondos are medallions set into gilded carving. Hans Memling is distinguished from other Flemish painters for his illusionistic techniques that help draw attention to the internal realm of the image. Atypically, Memling provides no visual clues that comment on the invented space of the image. 5 Following in the tradition of Jan van Eyck, Memling enchanted viewers with his ethereal play on reflective surfaces. Unlike Jan van Eyck, who suggested the earthly place of the viewer and t he reality of the painted object through reflective surfaces, interest lie in the expansion of the in vented space to further insinuate a realm beyond the painted surface. Arnolfinin Portrait (fig. 17 ) and Maartin van Nieuwenhove (fig .18 ) illustrates this 4 33. 5 For a gener al discussion Northern Renaissance Art ( New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 1 21 127
42 difference. The highly illustrious convex mirror in the rear of the Arnolfini Portrait distinguishes the space of the viewer and space of the image by reflecting a fig ure outside the picture frame. 6 Reflected o n the convex mirror in th e Maartin van Nienwenhove diptych are the donor and the Virgin seen from the rear The device links the frame of the diptych with the sacred space of the Virgin an d donor. The effect creat es a s en s e of shared space, but also emphasizes the discrepancy between the material and sacred realm. 7 Hans Belting called the combinati on of real and symbolic space in the Maartin van Nienwenhove 8 Jeanne Nuechterlein described the naturalistic representation s on the St. Ursula Reliquary 9 a term I will borrow as it relates to the effects of illusionism exhibits an interest in obviating its material surfa ce. It is as if the viewer can look through the stained glass windows of a gothic chapel. The gilded arcade establishes the boundary between the material and the immaterial world of the painting. In physical terms, the space oc cupied by Ursula and her maidens is realistic The light shadows on the figures give them a scene. 10 6 Nash, Northern Renaissance Art 123. On Jan van Eyck see Craig Ha rbison, Jan Van Eyck: T he Play of Realism ( London: Seattle: Reaktion B ooks; University of Washington 1991). 7 Reindert Falkenburg iptych: the place of prayer in early Netherlandish devotional painting Essays in Context: Unfolding the Neth erlandish Diptych (New Haven:Yale University Press, 2006), 98 103. 8 Hans Belting, Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art ( Chicago: Un iversity of Chicago Press, 1994), 432. 9 Nuechterlein, 61 66. 10 Jeffrey Marrow, Simiolus 16, No. 2/3 (1986), 158 161.
43 In modeling the shape of the reliquary after the Paradise portal (fig .4 ) Memling draws on the connection that his panels share with stained glass. In the twelfth century, Abbot Suger sought to elevate the function of religious images through the medium of stained glass. Suger developed the stain ed glass program for t he c ho ir of St. Denis in Paris Suger described the win according to Herbert Kes sler, that alludes to the dual aspect of glass to veil imagery and glow with jewel like radiance. 11 The luminous windows prov ided a proper instrument for 12 This is not to suggest twelfth century were necessarily applicable to Bruges in the late fifteenth century. Visual theories between these centuries certainly shifted. In fact, Michael C amille argued that by the late Middle A ges, the notion of occluding light was no longer relevant. 13 There was more interest in theories concerning light ref raction attested by the advent of crystalline reliquaries, like the nearby Relic of the Holy Blood in Bruges. As oppose to stained glass, which gave off its own jewel like luminosity, the significance was on a transparent system for light to pass through. 14 The intromission theory of optics, as opp osed to an extramission theory was by this time, generally accepted. Through an intromission theory, more power was vested in the world of nature, and the effects of light. and his exceptionally thin application of 11 Kessler, Spiritual Seeing 190 193. 12 Kessler, Spiritual Seeing, 193. 13 14 Ibid.
44 paint 15 may not so much work to reveal and conceal the relics, but ful ly allow one to see transparently through the image. The visual experience of the St. Ur sula Reliquary is opposite to the experience of stand ing in side the choir of St. Denis. I t is as if into the space of the chapel, or more precisely, the sacred space within the reliquary. In turn, the chapel space of the reliquary works symbolically like the casing of the soul. The se cond step of Augustine theory, spiritual vision, relates to images of the mind b ut the soul functions as a two investment of the soul with the object it perceives. Au gustine believed th at through this s objects of its affection. 16 In the case of the St. Ursula Reliquary the sacred space within the reliquary takes the form of a church and has filled itself with images. If the intromission theory t ook emphasis away from the then, according to Michael Camille, suggesting that the St. Ursula Reliquary sees with div ine vision, I am referring to how the reliquary embodies the divine, the autonomy of the object and more importantly, the way Memling painted its surface: Thus we can take a picture by Van Eyck or Memling, even o ne capable of limitless enlargement for a ll was painted in the most minute detail, as though with the help of a lens; all is sharp, with no hint of grain or blurring. I deliberately write in ph seems to be 15 Scholars often observe the luminous effect of Flemish painting. Memling stands out among the Flemish painters for his thin application of paint; the thin layers may be the beginnings of an economical development in Flemish painting See Nash, Northern Renaissance 124; Maryan W. Ainsworth, "Hans Memling as a Draughtsman, Hans Memling: Essays (Ghent: Ludion, 1994), 84 86 16 128.
45 something inhuman about the detail and precision of Flemish painters, an almost inhumanly obj 17 Memling engaged with the sacred space contained within the shrine, which, like and enhances what can be s een with the human eye. St. Ursula Reliquary at once suggest s it s materiality as a precious gilded shrine, while simultaneously denying its implies that the obj ect is without substance. It is as if, the reliquary sees outward from all four angles, and the affectionate viewer, directs their attention in loving gaze. Conclusion Changes in medieval theories of vision influenced spiritual devotion during the fifteenth century. One obviou s explanation for the rise in personal devotion had to do with the accessibility of text like Mediations on the Life of Christ a migration of St. Religious interpr etations of spiritual life engendered the entanglement with the material world, as any attempt to describe it required the extrapolation of things from the material world ( a realm where even the laity had entry ) With a vision of the divine based in the ma terial world, more people could begin to see and understand themselves in relation to o neself, the social body, and the divine. 18 17 Cali, Bruges 38 39; Rudolph Preimesberger interprets much of the microscopic deta il that scale of some of these figures as evidence that Van Eyck was testing the capabilities of painting in comparision with sculpture. See Rudolph Pre Paragons and Paragone (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institution, 2011). 18 including other animate beings, and to God. As such, it exceeded both viewing subjects and visible Sight and Embodiment 3.
46 and peak in devotional painting during the 1480s, are testament to how spiritual life i nundated the streets and minds of its citizens. Therefore, it is necessary to understand how the devout interacted with the visible world Early theories of vision and the way vision influenced religious thought are critical are to any investigation concerning the visual culture. As this thesis has attempted to describe, w orshippers of the late Middle Ages who wish ed to experience a vision of God, could fix their gaze on the St. Ursula Reliquary ; in turn, by the m eticulous hand of the painter, they were met with the visual clarity of saints
47 APPENDIX A FIGURE CITATIONS Figure 1. Anonymous, St. Ursula Shrine c. 1380 1400. 1 Figure 2. Hans Memling, St. Ursula Reliquary c. 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 2 Fi gure 3. Details of St. Ursula and her Maidens and Virgin and Child, Hans Memling, St. Ursula Reliquary c. 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 3 Figure 4. Paradise Portal, Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk, c.1450 1460. 4 Figure 5. Hans Memling, St. John Altarpiece c. 1479, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 5 Figure 6 Bruges Master of the St. Ursula Legend, c. 1475 1480, Bruges, Convent of the Black Sisters. 6 Figure 7 Arrival in Cologne Hans Memling, St. Ursula Reliquary c. 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 7 Fi gure 8 Arrival in Basel Hans Memling, St. Ursula Reliquary c. 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 8 Figure 9 Arrival in Rome Hans Memling, St. Ursula Reliquary c. 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 9 Figure 10 Departure from Basel Hans Memling, S t. Ursula Reliquary c. 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 10 1 Sarah Blick, Art a nd Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage In Northern Europe And the British Isles ( Leiden: Brill, 2005 ), vol. 2, 24, fig. 24. 2 Lane, Hans Memling plate 11. 3 Blick, Art and Architecture 25, fig. 26. 4 Ernerst Gil liat Smith, The Story of Bruges ( London: J. M. Dent & co, 1901 ), 307. 5 Lane Hans Memling plate 5. 6 Blick, 30, fig. 31. 7 De Vos, Hans Memling, 298 299. 8 Ibid 9 De Vos, Hans Memling, 298 299. 10 De Vos, Hans Memling 298 299.
48 Figure 11 Hans Memling, St. Ursula Reliquary c. 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 11 Figure 12 Martyr of St. Ursula Hans Memling, St. Ursula Reliquary c 1489, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. Figure 13 Master of the Privileges of Ghent and Flanders, Scene of the Humiliation of the citizens of Ghent after 1440, Vienna. 12 Figure 14 Hans Memling, Scene s from the Passion of Christ c. 1470, Turin, Galleria Sabauda. 13 Figure 15 Hans Memling, Seven Joys of the Virgin c. 1480, Munich, Alte Pinakothek. 14 Figure 16 Wasservas Calvary c. 1420, Cologne, Wallraf Richartz Museum. 15 Figure 17 Jan Van Eyck, Arnolfini Portrait c. 1434, London, National Gallery. 16 F igure 18 Hans Memling, Maartin van Nieuwenhove c. 1487, Bruges, Hospital of St. John. 17 11 Ibid 12 Wilson, Bruges and the Middle Ages 33, fig. 8. 13 Lane, Hans Memling plate 12. 14 Lane, Hans Memling plate 13. 15 Lane, Hans Memling 56. 16 Lane, Hans Memling 84. 17 Lane, Hans Memling plates 4 5.
49 LIST OF REFERENCES Ainsworth, Maryan W. Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998. Ainsworth, Maryan W, and Keith Christiansen. From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1998. Augustine Saint, Bishop of Hippo, and John Hammond Taylor. The Literal Meaning of Genesis ; Tra nslated and Annotated by John Hammond Taylor New York: Newman Press, 1982. Baxandall, Michael. Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy: A Primer in the Social History of Pictorial Style Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Belting, Hans. L ikeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art; Translated by Edmund Jephcott Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Bernard of Clairvaux, Irene M. Edmonds, and Kilian J.Walsh. On the Song of Songs. Translated by Kilian Walsh Sp encer : Cistercian Publications, 1971. Biernoff, Suzannah. Sight and Embodiment in the Middle Ages. Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave, 2002. Blick, Sarah. Art and Architecture of Late Medieval Pilgrimage in Northern Europe and the British Isles Leiden: Brill, 2005. Brown, Andrew. Civic Ceremony and Religion in Medieval Bruges c.1300 1520 Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Buren, Anne van, et al. Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception, and Research Los Ange les: Getty Research Institute 2005 Coleman, Sally Whitman. Empathetic Constructions in Early Netherlandish Painting: Narrative and Reception in the A rt of Hans Memling. Diss. The University of Texas at Austin, 2003. De Vos, Dirk, et al Essays: Hans M emling Bruges: Ludion Press, 1994. De Vos, Dirk. Hans Memling: The Complete Works. Ghent: New York: Ludion Press, 1994. _______ The Flemish Primitives: The Masterpieces. Princeton : Amsterdam: Princeton University Press; Amsterdam University Press, 200 2. Friedlnder, Max J., and Veronee Verhaegen. Early Netherlandish Painting; Translated by Heinz Norden New York: Praeger, 1967.
50 Gilliat Smith, Ernest. The Story of Bruges London: J. M. Dent & co, 1901. Hamburger, Jeffrey, and Anne Marie Bouch, The M ind's Eye: Art and Theological Argument in the Middle Ages Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2006. Hamburger, Jeffrey. The Visual and the Visionary: Art and Female Spirituality in Late Medieval Germany New York: Zone Books, 1998 ________. Res 31 (1997): 9 34. Hand, John Oliver. Essays in Context: Unfolding the Netherlandish Diptych Cambridge: New Haven: Harvard University Art Museums; Yale University Press, 200 6. Harbison, Craig Jan Van Eyck: The Play of Realism London: Seattle: Reaktion Books; University of Washington, 1991. _________ Simiolus 19, No. 3/ 3 (1989): 198 205 _________ Simiolus 15 (1985): 87 118 Southeast Collection Art Conference Review 11, No. 3 (1988): 207 213 __________ Hans Memling's Paintings for the Hospital of Saint John in Bruges New York: Garland Pub, 1981. Kirkland Ives, Mitzi. Narrative performance and devotional experience in the art of Hans Memling. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of California, Santa Barbar a, 2005. Johannes de Caulibus, et al. Meditations on the Life of Christ; Translated from the Original Latin and Edited by Francis X. Taney, Sr., Anne Miller, C. Mary Stallings Taney. Asheville : Pegasus Press, 2000. Kessler, Herbert L Spiritual Seeing: Picturing God's Invisibility in Medieval Art. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Koerner, Joseph Leo. The Reformation of the Image Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. Lane, Barbara G. Hans Memling: Master Painter in Fifteenth Century Bruges London: Harvey Miller, 2009. _________. Simiolus 18, No. 3/3 (1988): 106 115.
51 Lindberg, David C. Theories of Vision from Al Kindi to Kepler Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976. Martins, Maximiliaan, et al. Bruges and the Renaissance: Memling to Pourbus Ludion: New York: Stichting Kunstboek, 1998. Simiolus 16, No. 2/3 (1986): 150 169 The Journal of Religion 63:2 (1983): 125 142. Nash, Susie. Northern Renaissance Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. Nelson, Robert. Visuality B efore and Beyond the Renaissance: Seeing as Others Saw Cambridge, U.K.; New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Os, Henk. W., The Art of Devotion in the Late Middle Ages in Europe, 1300 1500; Translated by Michael Hoyle Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1994. Panofsky, Erwin 1892 1968. Early Netherlandish Painting Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953. Preimesberger, Rudolf. Paragons and Paragone: Van Eyck, Raphael, Mi chelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2011. Ringbom, Sixten. Icon to Narrative: The Rise of the Dramatic Close Up in Fifteenth Century Devotional Painting Doornspijk: Davaco, 1984. A Pilgrim's Mem ories of Jerusalem: London, Wallace Collection MS M319, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes Vol. 70, (2007): 311 325 Rudy, Kathryn M. "A Guide to Mental Pilgrimage: Paris, Bibliothque de l'Arsenal Ms.212," Zeitschrift fr Kunstgeschichte 63 (2000): 494 515. Rudy, Kathryn M. "Northern European Visual Responses to Holy Land Pilgrimage, 1453 1550." PhD diss., Columbia University, 2001. Smets, Irne. The Memling Museum -St John's Hospital Bruges Ghent: Ludion, 2001. Stroo, Cyriel. The Flemi sh Primitives: Catalogue of Early Netherlandish Painting in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium Brussels: Brepols, 1996. Verougstraete, Helene, Van S choute, Roger, Smeyers, Maurits. Memling Studies: Proceedings of the International Colloquium (Bru ges, 10 12 November 1994) Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1997.
52 Wilson, Jean C. Painting in Bruges at the Close of the Middle Ages: Studies in Society and Visual Culture University Park : Pennsylvania State Univ. Press, 1998.
53 BIOGRAPHAPICAL SKETCH Laur a Randall earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History in 2008 at Florida State University. From 2009 2010, Laura taught English in the Nord de pas Calais region of France. There, she was able to see many French and Flemish paintings firsthand and get to kno w the region w h ere the Northern Renaissance include medieval theology and it s relationship to modern critical theory. Laura graduated with her Master of Arts degree in Art History in August 2012.