Xavier Barral i Altet

Affiliated Fellow
Art History
University of Rennes II-Haute Bretagne, France / Università di Venezia Ca’Foscari, Italy
Project Title: 
The Apollonius Pictus of Budapest and the Bayeux Embroidery: a Study on the Strategies of Narrative Historical Representation during the Eleventh Century
Project Abstract: 

The almost unknown "Apollonius fragment" (Budapest, National Széchényi Library, Cod. Lat. 4) is the earliest known illustrated copy of a late antique romance (Historia Apollonii regis Tyri). The 38 pen-work drawings preserved in the fragment are of primary importance to the history of medieval secular narrative illustrations. The Bayeux Embroidery (Museum of Bayeux) is the most important medieval narrative cycle that is preserved today. It measures over 70 metres long and 59 centimetres wide. It portrays the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, who defeated Harold's English army at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The Apollonius Pictus of Budapest gives us elements of fundamental importance in understanding the visual narrative of the Bayeux Embroidery. This case of possible parallels is extremely rare in medieval art and gives us extensive information about the culture – intellectual, visual and pictorial - of the monastic schools of the Eleventh Century. The parallels are also found in the ways of translating the text into images: the dynamics and strategies of representation, approach of movement, visual renderings, effects of perspective, depth, proportions, shadows, format, and the representation of details such as feet, pointed fingers, eyes, beards, etc. The relationship with Antiquity of these two works is of great importance for the study of Medieval Art and will lead to a new monograph of wider interest for all medievalists, not only art historians.

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