Otto art


January 27, 2022

The collection of works of art made in the territory of the German-Roman Empire from the middle of the 10th century to the first third of the 11th century is called Otto art. At this time the members of the House of Saxony gave the emperors of the empire. During their reign there was a significant artistic activity, which the rulers themselves supported within the narrow circle of the court. The nature of the works of art was mainly determined by the Carolingian heritage, and the II. Byzantine influences after the marriage of Emperor Otto to Princess Theophanu. In the 11th century, centers such as Regensburg, Cologne, Milan, and Echternach were influenced by the style features of Byzantine art, yet the vast majority of the works were made by reinterpreting Carolingian and late antique models. In the church architecture, the basilica structure was used, the buildings were supplemented with crypts, choirs and towers. On the west side of the churches, a multi-storey part of the building called the westwerk was built. Cornices and porches on the walls were an innovation. The result of the eastward center of gravity of the imperial power and their expansion towards the Slavic territories was the spread of similar types of buildings beyond the borders of the former Frankish Empire. Hardly anything can be known from the monumental painting of the age. The works that have now been destroyed can only be pictured on the basis of references to sources that deal with painting cycles that decorate wall surfaces. The workshop in sculpture played a leading role in sculpture, where the bronze casting resumed on the initiative of Bishop Bernward. Monumental sculptures can also only be known from the references in the descriptions and from some sporadic memories with controversial dates. The first Otto-era manuscripts were demonstrably copies of codexes from the Carolingian era. The development of book painting was triggered by the necessary religious reform, and the reorganized monastic centers needed liturgical books. Unlike the Carolingian era, when the main goal in its text was to produce flawless complete Bibles, the emphasis in the Otto era was on producing more ornate liturgical books. Because these were based on the Gospels, the most common manuscripts were the ornately designed Gospels.

Historical background

Under the successors of Charles the Great, the Frankish Empire was divided into three parts. The power of the rulers was weakened, and wars destroyed a large area. Due to the confusing conditions of the age, construction activity came to a halt everywhere. From the east, the Hungarians attacked the empire, from the west, the Normans destroyed the cities. The fallen realm of the Carolingian rulers was strengthened under Emperor Henry I (Madarász) and his successor, Emperor Otto I (the Great). The German-Roman Empire emerged from the eastern Frankish territories and France from the west. Between the middle of the 10th century and the beginning of the 11th century, Saxony, the border region that had hitherto played a subordinate role in Germany, became a leader, and this area became the center of the reorganizing empire. Due to the relative calm, the construction activity started during the reign of Otto I and was intended to proclaim the greatness of the emperors following the example of Charles the Great. After the unification of the area, Merseburg, Quedlinburg, and Magdeburg became new ecclesiastical centers, from which they also engaged in conversion activities in the eastern, barbaric territories. This activity of conversion and conquest, ecclesiastical and religious reform, and support for papal power formed the basis of the policy of the Saxon emperors. The coronation of Otto I as king in Aachen in 936 and emperor in Rome in 962

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