Conference paper

Danielson, Sigrid:

Authoritative Origins: Writing the Carolingian Artist

This paper examines how scholars working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries conceptualized the Carolingian artist. In these decades, the study of early medieval material culture emerged as the subject of focused examination in art historical studies. Publications for academic and non-specialist audiences stressed formalist methods including mapping spheres of artistic influence and patronage for manuscripts, ivories, metalwork, and monumental painting. Close examination of their publications and intended audiences reveals that crafting an authoritative history was a problematic and politicized endeavor. Artistic identity was characterized as being simultaneously dependent upon ethnic affiliation as well as subject to the formative influences of cultural centers such as the court and monastic foundations. In turn, narratives that stressed the individual artist became foundational when considering objects that appeared stylistically and iconographically distinctive or were problematic for conventions of attribution. These discussions of early medieval artistic practices served regional and aesthetic interests, crafting the Carolingian artist as a figure who often appears more modern than medieval.

Sigrid Danielson completed her doctoral degree in medieval art at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Her research focuses on early medieval metalwork, arts and the episcopacy, the intersections between modernism and medievalism, as well as the reception of early medieval material culture in the 20th century. Dr. Danielson is co-editor of and contributor to Envisioning the Bishop: Images and the Episcopacy in the Middle Ages, published by Brepols in 2014. She is an associate professor of Art History at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, USA.