International Medieval Research 20

Front cover, IMR 20 - Click to enlarge
The Tree: Symbol, Allegory, and Mnemonic Device in Medieval Art and Thought
Edited by Pippa Salonius and Andrea Worm

With its vital character - growing, flowering, extending its roots into the ground, and its branches and leaves to the sky - the tree is a polyvalent metaphor, a suggestive symbol, and an allegorical subject. During the Middle Ages, a number of iconographic schemata were based on the image and strcuture of the tree, including the Tree of Jesse and the Tree of Virtues and Vices. From the late eleventh century onwards such formulae were increasingly used as devices for organizing knowledge and representing theoretical concepts. Despite the abstraction inherent in these schemata, however, the semantic qualities of trees persist in their usage.

The analysis of different manifestations of trees in the Middle Ages is highly instructive for visual, intellectual, and cultural history. Essays in this volume concentrate on the formative period for arboreal imagery in the medieval West, that it, the eleventh to fifteenth centuries. Using a range of methodological strategies and examining material from different media, ranging from illuminated manuscripts to wall painting, stained glass windows, and monumental sculpture, the articles in this volume show how different arboreal structures were conceived, employed, and appropriated by their specific contexts, how they functioned in their original framework, and how they were perceived by their audience.

Papers in this volume include:

  • Introduction, by Pippa Salonius and Andrea Worm
  • Stirps Jesse in capite ecclesiae: Iconographic and Liturgical Readings of the Tree of Jesse in Stained-Glass Windows, by Marie-Pierre Gelin
  • Arbor autem humanum genus significat: Trees of Genealogy and Sacred History in the Twlfth Century, by Andrea Worm
  • Arbor genealogiae: Manifestations of the Tree in French Royal Genealogies, by Marigold Anne Norbye
  • The Medieval Tree of Porphyry: An Organic Structure of Logic, by Annemieke R. Verboon
  • Visualizing Salvation: The Role of Arboreal Imagery in the Speculum humanae salvationis (Kremsmünster, Library of the Convent, Cod. 243), by Susanne Wittekind
  • Two Trees in Paradise? A Case Study on the Iconography of the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life in Italian Romanesque Sculpture, by Ute Dercks
  • The Tree as Narrative, Formal, and Allegorical Index in Representations of the Noli me tangere, by Barbara Baert and Liesbet Kusters
  • Quasi lignum vitae: The Tree of Life as an Image of Mendicant Identity, by Ulrike Ilg
  • Arbor Jesse - Lignum Vitae: The Tree of Jesse, the Tree of Life, and the Mendicants in Late Medieval Orvieto, by Pippa Salonius