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Why didn’t medieval artists sign their work?

Saint Raymond of Peñafort: Aletia

Signing a work of art might be understood as a gesture implying the recognition of individual creativity. But in fact, particularly relevant, unique works of art rarely need to be signed by the artist, as the distinctive style and use of visual expressive elements are often more than enough to identify the author of a specific work. People with little-to-average knowledge of history of art might recognize a Rothko, a Dürer, or an El Greco without needing to look at the artist’s signature, or the small info panel the museum curators have had the kindness to place right next to, or under, the piece we are looking at. But can we say the same thing about medieval sculptors, painters, the exceptional embroidery artists responsible for the famous Unicorn Tapestries, or the architects who designed all the great Romanesque basilicas of the Early Middle Ages? Can we name a single sculptor from, let’s say, the 8th century? It is often the case we know more about the emperors, popes, bishops, or abbots who commissioned such works than about the artists who actually made them. Why is that so? …Read More

 

2019-01-07T05:33:07+00:00