The Stavelot Triptych And Its Complexity And Artistry Essay

The Stavelot Triptych And Its Complexity And Artistry Essay

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The Stavelot Triptych is stunning in its complexity and artistry. It was created by unknown artists, around mid-12th century, possibly for Abbot Wibald, in modern-day Mosan, Belgium. This artwork is currently on display in the Jerusalem exhibit at the MET. The Stavelot Triptych not only tells the story of the True Cross, but it shows the division of the Roman Empire, division of Christianity and the artistic differences between the East and the West. This formal analysis will express how the structure/shape, color, line, composition and techniques/ textures contribute to the meaning of the triptych.
The structure is a combination of three triptychs in one, which are all enamel. There is the overall triptych, which is Mosan, and then there are two smaller triptychs set into the center panel, which are Byzantine in origin, each of which open up. The Stavelot Triptych is balanced symmetrically, not only by the larger wings, but also by the amount of circular, three-dimensional, medallions in each wing. It is balance this way so that when it closes it completely covers the inner components. The shape of the center is an arch and then the wings are half arches. There are four silver columns with rounded bases and palm leaf capitols. The arches and columns are foundations of Rome’s architecture. In addition, there are texts above the top two medallions, which celebrate the discovery and exaltation of the cross. The center panel, which is two-dimensional, is surrounded by fifteen gilt cusps, which reflect light. The panel is empty and has a black velvet background. This part of the triptych is unique and different because it has relics of the True Cross and the artists had to do something different to make it stand out. Of the inner tr...


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...exibility when building and filling vs. when carving and filling. It is noticeable from looking at the lines that the compartments are more structured. The gouged lines are kind of more flexible and malleable. If you’re trying to show a story of battle with people on horseback, you couldn’t do that with cloisonné, so the artists had to develop a different technique and they decided to apply the metal tool directly unto the surface.
The Stavelot Triptych captures the ideals of an era and its belief system as best it could with the given technology of its creators. It has an incredible amount of detail and intricacies. The way that the techniques are divided to show the division of the empire is significant and very clever. From the techniques to the style and color, the Stavelot Triptych commands attention and shows that it was not meant to be a subtle piece of art.

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