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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2020

Saxum vivum and lapides viventes: Animated Stone in Medieval Book Illumination

From the book Canones: The Art of Harmony

  • Stefan Trinks


A double interaction can be observed between the ancient columns on the marble tomb of St Peter placed in the most important church of Western Christianity in Rome, and their painted counterparts in the canon tables with bodies and faces inscribed. In book illumination, some freedom and fantasy are possible that can hardly be built or sculptured. The example of the animated Italian and Spanish columns shows, however, that the Canones had a stimulating and reciprocal effect on monumental sculpture. The contribution is intended to show that with the stones depicted by artists in the canon tables there are no either antique and pagan or Christian, but only ambivalent hybrid forms. As there were scientific justifications for the inner movement and formative power of stone on the atomic level via Lucretius, Pliny and Isidore, this artificial boundary between knowing antiquity and the allegedly unenlightened dull Middle Ages falls.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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