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Dec 17, 2012

Medieval Mondays: Ottonian Ivory

One of my favorite artistic movements of the Middle Ages was the creation of ivory miniatures during the Ottonian Renaissance (c. 951 – 1024). Launched by the German Ottonian dynasty, this was a flowering of art and culture heavily influenced by the earlier Carolingian Renaissance and contemporary Byzantine artistic styles. The Ottonian kings ruled over much of Germany and Italy and called themselves the "Holy Roman Emperors", a title used by many rulers before and since.

The renaissance encompassed all forms of art but I've always been most impressed by the ivory miniatures ever since I first saw them in the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert in London. The photo above is of a diptych made in Trier at the end of 10th century. It shows two scenes: Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and The Doubting Thomas.

This is a situla, a bucket for holding holy water. It's carved with twelve scenes from the Passion of Christ arranged in two rows and was probably made around 980 for the visit of Emperor Otto II to Milan.
This also comes from Milan around 962-973 and was donated to Magdeburg Cathedral by Otto I. It depicts the Flagellation of Christ.

All images courtesy Wikipedia.


  1. Nice way to decorate your walls. I have never done that. My effort to beautify the walls in my house was to order big-sized canvas prints from, from images of western art. I use the same angel motifs in all of the rooms painted by different painters, such as this one by very interesting English artist Stanley Spencer,