Thursday, December 9, 2010

Bernward Doors

The Bernward Doors, dating from 1015, are large bronze doors cast for the Cathedral of St. Mary in Hildesheim Germany, under the direction of Bishop Bernward. Bernward had visited Rome and may have been inspired by the ancient carved wooden doors of the Basilica of Santa Sabina. These doors represented a massive project for the time, being one of the largest cast bronze objects ever made in northern Europe. The left door contains eight scenes from the life of Adam, and the right eight scenes from the life of Christ. The scenes are carefully chosen and matched to emphasize the theological idea that Christ was the new Adam. For example, the Fall is matched with the Crucifixion, by which the fall was redeemed. The "trial" of Adam and Eve by God, is matched with the trial of Christ by Pilate.

The figures are set in a schematic space with a few plants or architectural details representing landscapes. The figures are in high relief, some of the heads lean out and become free of the background. Yet these nods to three dimensional reality for the scenes are undercut by the tendency for details, such as feet to overlap and break out of the surrounding frames.

Image credits:

Full door from Wikipedia.
Details from Sacred Destinations on Flickr.

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