The crucifixion and the censorship of art around 1300

Authored by: Paul Binski

The Medieval World

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138848689
eBook ISBN: 9781315102511
Adobe ISBN:


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For all its extraordinary diversity, the most common images in Western medieval art were of the Crucifixion and the Virgin Mary. As central representations of the Faith, around which many other concepts and images clustered in the course of the Middle Ages, both were the objects of regulation and control. Such regulations could be proactive: thus, by the thirteenth century, it was prescribed that all churches should have an image of the Virgin Mary on or near the high altar and that the celebrant at mass should have the image of Christ Crucified before him on the altar (Gardner 1994). Others – and here we introduce the subject of this chapter – were more reactive: cases where monastic or clerical authorities either openly attacked or even suppressed newfangled images.

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