The Middle ages

Art during The Middle Ages was largely commissioned by the church as most of the general population were peasants. The most well known pieces were stained glass windows and intricate mosaics.  Although many refer to this time period as the "Dark Ages", if you take a look at the artwork created during this time, it speaks to a highly creative and intelligent people. Medieval, Gothic and Romanesque are the types of art most often associated with The Middle Ages.

Did you know?

Roger Bacon was a 13th century Franciscan friar who, in his Epistola de Secretis Operibus Artis et Naturae, et de Nullitate Magiae (Letter on the Secret Workings of Art and Nature, and on the Vanity of Magic) wrote that in the future “cars can be made so that without animals they will move with unbelievable rapidity,” and “flying machines can be constructed so that a man sits in the midst of the machine revolving some engines by which artificial wings are made to beat the air like a flying bird.”Bacon’s other predictions included submarines, diving suits, steamships and telescopes.

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Below is some basic information on The Middle Ages and its characteristics and influences. If you would like to print off a copy of this page along with samples of art from this period, you can download the The Middle Ages Summary above.

Porta del Paradiso
Porta del Paradiso

Lorenzo Ghiberti, one of the most famous sculptors in the Middle Ages, created these bronze doors for Baptistery of Florence. Named “Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo, each door portrays five scenes from the Old Testament. It is considered, by many, to be Ghiberti’s greatest work. (Medieval Art)

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Master of Taüll
Master of Taüll

This wall painting by San Clemente in Taüll, c. 1123, is a prime example of Romanesque Art. However, there were distinctive variants in Romanesque Art, depending on where it originated. Art from this period was greatly influenced by pilgrimages to scared locations.

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The Chartres Cathedral, France
The Chartres Cathedral, France

The Chartres Cathedral is said to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in France and a great example of Gothic architecture. It is known for its sculptures and stained glass windows from the 12th and 13th centuries and is one of the most complete medieval churches.

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Quick Facts:
  • Called the Middle Ages because it was in the middle of the fall of Rome and the rise of the Renaissance

  • Art was focused on religion, contained shadows and light, was more realistic

  • Included Medieval, Gothic and Romanesque Art

Characteristics and/or Types of Art:
  • Frescoes

  • Stained glass

  • Sculptures

  • Mosaics

  • Cathedrals

  • Mosques

  • The Catholic church

  • Feudalism

  • The Crusades