Medieval art

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Byzantine art was the high art of the Middle Ages and monumental Church mosaics were the crowing glory. One of the most famous of the surviving mosaics is in the Church of the Holy Wisdom in former Constantinople—the image of Christ on the walls of the upper southern gallery.

Medieval Art covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. It includes the major art movements, national art, genres, revivals, the artists crafts, and the artists themselves.

Art historians classify Medieval art into major periods and movements. They are Celtic art, Early Christian art, Migration Period art, Pre-Romanesque art, Romanesque art, Gothic art, Trecento art, Byzantine art and Islamic art. In addition each "nation" or culture in the Middle Ages had its own distinct artistic style and these are looked at individually, such as Anglo-Saxon art or Viking art. Medieval art was of many crafts, such as mosaics and sculpture; and there were many unique genres of art, such as Crusade art or animal style.


Medieval artists in Europe depended, in varying degrees, upon artistic heritage of the Roman Empire and upon the legacy of the early Christian church. These sources were mixed with the vigorous "Barbarian" artistic culture of Northern Europe to produce a remarkable artistic legacy. Indeed the history of medieval art can be seen as the history of the interplay between the elements of classical, early Christian and "Barbarian" art.

Major art movements

Art in the Middle Ages is a broad subject and art historians traditionally look at it based on about nine large-scale movements, or periods.

Early Christian art covers the period from about 200 (before which no distinct Christian form survives), until the late 7th or early 8th centuries, when Arab conquests and Byzantine iconoclasm halted the production of art in the East. During this period Christian artists adopted the Roman crafts of painting, mosaic, carving and metalwork.

Celtic art in the Middle Ages describes the art of native Celtic speaking peoples of Ireland and Britain from about the 5th century, with the Roman withdrawl, to about the 12th century establishment of Romanesque art. The 5th to 7th centuries were mainly a continutation of the late Iron Age La Tene art with some Roman modifications, while in the 7th and 8th centuries it mixed with Germanic traditions through contact with the Anglo-Saxons creating what is called the Hiberno-Saxon style, and then finally late in the period some Viking inspirations were added in Ireland.

Migration Period art describes the art of Germanic, Slavic and other peoples during the Migration period from about 300-900 (to be completed).

Pre-Romanesque art (to be completed)

Romanesque art (to be completed)

Islamic art during the Middle Ages covers a wide variety of crafts including illustrated manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, metalwork and glass. There was an early formative stage from 600-900 and the development of regional styles from 900-1500.

Byzantine art overlaps with or merges with what we call Early Christian art until the iconoclasm period of 730-843 when the vast majority of artwork was destroyed; so little remains that today any discovery sheds new understanding. After 843 until 1453 there is a clear Byzantine art tradition. It was often called the best art of the Middle Ages in terms of quality of material and workmanship, the production of which was centered on Constantinople. Byzantine arts crowning achievment were the monumental frescos and mosaics inside domed churches, most of which have not survived due to natural disasters and the re-appropriation of churches to mosques.

Gothic art is a fragmentary term depending on the craft, place and time. The term originated with Gothic architecture in 1140, but Gothic painting did not appear untill around 1200 (this date has many qualifications), when it diverged from Romanesque style. Gothic sculpture was born in France in 1150 and spread throughout Europe, by the 13th century it had become the international style, replaceing Romanesque. International Gothic describes Gothic art from about 1360 to 1430. National forms of Gothic developed such as Manueline Gothic in Portugal (1495-1521), Perpendicular Gothic in England (1332), Decorated Gothic in England (1285), and Flamboyant Gothic in France (1370-1400).

Trecento art (to be completed)

See also


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools