Treasures of Medieval Sculpture: Late Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance with Jayne Yantz

Treasures of Medieval Sculpture: Late Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance with Jayne Yantz


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Our conversation will present an overview of must-see sculptures housed in churches across Europe. Led by an art historian, we will traverse pilgrimage routes across France and Spain, take in works by Donatello in Florence, Italy, and discover the treasures of Naumberg Cathedral in Germany. These often remote palaces, monasteries, and secular spaces offer impressive collections of sculptures made in stone, gold, gems, ivory, and other precious materials.

We begin with the collapse of the Late Roman world as new sculptural techniques are introduced by arriving migrants. We will examine the Sutton Hoo Burial (recently featured in the movie The Dig), which later influenced Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. When society re-settled under Charlemagne, sculptural arts shifted once again. Charlemagne’s goal was to recreate the Roman Empire, illustrated in an equestrian statue of a king astride a horse, much like a Roman Emperor. Now located in the Louvre, this equestrian statue is tiny by Roman standards.

As Viking raids shake Europe, we discuss Viking sculpture (and its influences) before moving on to famous Romanesque carvings in churches along the Pilgrimage routes in France and Spain, including works by a stunning master carver named Gislebertus at Autun. When Romanesque art grows into Gothic, we also look closely at the carvings that now form full storybooks near the doors of Gothic Cathedrals – such as Chartres, Reims, and Notre Dame Cathedral.

In Paris, we will examine the gargoyles and the Lady of Notre Dame, which survived the dangerous fire of 2019. Capping off the incredible developments in Gothic art, we include psychological portraits from Naumburg Cathedral in Germany. As we close this conversation, we witness the changes in art as the Renaissance spirit begins to emerge in sculpture, seen best in some of the works by Donatello you can visit in Florence today.  

Led by Art Historian Jayne Yantz, our conversation demonstrates how and why sculpture developed in Europe from the fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will also appreciate the strong influences from Rome and the Migrations Peoples on this development. In addition, viewers will learn how artworks of the Middle Ages reflect changing political and religious ideas and where to find these artworks on their upcoming travels. 

Jayne Yantz completed graduate work in art history and anthropology before beginning a career in college teaching. She specializes in non-Western art and European Old Masters, has traveled extensively to see the works of art she teaches, and believes it is important to continue learning throughout life. Jayne has received continued recognition for teaching excellence, including the Teacher of the Year award from her college. She currently lives in the New Jersey Pinelands on a nature preserve.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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