Art and Architecture
There are a lot of pages on the web which cover aspects of art and architecture. I have included a set of link pages, to help you find them. As far as specific projects go, I have selected a few sites which have particular merits, but there are many, many more out there covering specific topics. Searching by place names will sometimes find you interesting sites, but you have to sort them from the tourist ad sites. One of my favourite medieval art sites, NIXNET, produced by a talented Canadian teenager, seems to have disappeared. Perhaps he has reached a stage of having other preoccupations.
| Link Sites | Collections and Themes | Specific Projects |
A major link page to all kinds of sites relating to art topics of all periods. A good place to start a search, even though it is not specialised on the medieval period.
WWW Virtual Library - History of Art
This has the same format as other WWW Virtual Library pages; a plain set of text links which occasionally disappears and then turns up later in a different university. Nevertheless, there is a large range of links. These sites do rather depend on working academics keeping them up in their spare time, and that commodity is rare around universities these days.
Mother of All Art History Links Pages
This is a pretty comprehensive art link page, not just medieval in scope, with plain vanilla text links but interesting annotations on each site linked. There is some silly humour which is only mildly annoying, but the Return to Mother caption for the home page link is a bit much. Still, worthwhile for starting a search for an art history topic.
Art of the Middle Ages
A good plain text link page to medieval art sites; part of a larger site on art history resources on the web.
Collections and Themes (return to top)
New York Carver
I don't know whether to call this a meta-link page or a blockbuster epic. It provides a series of links to some of the best sites on Gothic architecture and sculpture, and much more, including the author's own photographic essays. This is a beautifully designed site with many resources. And where but New York could you find a genuine medieval sculptor working for his living and sharing his knowledge and passion with the world? Highly recommended.
Images of Medieval Art and Architecture
This site contains a series of pictures, of variable quality it must be said, of a range of English and French architectural treasures. There are various detailed views of each building or site. Handy for a quick fix on French Gothic. There is also an excellent glossary with clear illustrations and diagrams and little audio files that teach you how to pronounce the words in an American accent.
This site is produced by the Louvre, Paris and includes both images and useful text discussion of certain items in their collection. A feature of their medieval section is Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, with beautiful images of the calendar pages. They proudly advertise that they have been on the web since 1994 - no mean feat, but perhaps they could now put some more of their medieval treasures up on the web for us to see. (Écoutez vous?)
ArtServe - ANU
This is a big art site. It may be the biggest art site in the world. It is essentially an image bank, with negligible text or discussion. The interface has had a bit of a revamp, so it is not as unfriendly as it used to be. The medieval section is not their strongest area, but there are some interesting images there.
This site is produced by a private organisation, and aims to present images of a range of Christian art works. There is an expanding selection of images with many medieval examples. One of the links is the Franciscan Cyberspot - what St Francis wouldn't have given for such modern communications! Periodically little messages appear exhorting you to pray for the oppressed of the world - a small price to ask!
This site provides summary information on every single listed World Heritage site, many of which, in Europe, are medieval buildings or complexes of great note. Each listing also contains links to other web sites on the subject. The quality and quantity of material on each site is a bit variable, but they are all there.
English Heritage cares for a vast array of historic buildings and sites, many of which are medieval. This web site gives a brief description of each one, with appropriate photographs and diagrams. The listings are arranged geographically. Content tends to be brief, but it gives you a quick snapshot of heritage remains in England. English Heritage has merged with the Royal Commission for Historical Monuments, which provides access to archaeological databases, but the system is currently seriously clunky.
The British Museum
This site is very pretty, but it is very slow to use because there are too many navigation pages without content carrying excessive graphics and the actual navigation is labyrinthine - a bit like the building itself. The selection of what you can see is a bit serendipitous. For the browser, not the researcher.
Castles, Abbeys, Medieval Buildings
This collection of picture essays on various medieval buildings has much to recommend it; good images, historical notes and bibliography. It could do with some improvements in web site design. Long pages with 5 or 6 large images on each take too long to load, and the navigation is spartan. I am speaking as one who downloads from a modem over rural phone lines. Nevertheless, definitely worth a look.
The Castles of Wales
This is a very patriotic site. It even comes in a Welsh language version. There is a lengthy and quite respectable text and many excellent photos. Walk in the footsteps of Edward I without leaving your ergonomic chair. If you are interested in castles generally, or Edward I, or Wales, it is worth spending some time on this one.
Castles of Britain
This is not just a tourist site, but a resource centre for the study of castles and an activist site for castle preservation. It appears to be developing at a steady pace. Shows how the web can be used to combine education with the politics of heritage.
Castles on the Web
This is basically a very comprehensive link site, but also has a photo gallery with images submitted from users, a discussion forum and the ability for users to rate linked sites. What it lacks in substantive written content, it makes up for in interactivity and plenty of visuals. The links are a trifle eclectic.
Boston College Fine Art Department
A good selection of medieval architecture images can be found here, although currently there appears to be nothing medieval in the art section. Useful as a visual reference.
A compulsive church visitor shares his travel snaps with us. There are images from all around the world, and some interesting desciptions and photographs of some lesser known churches in odd corners of England.
This site contains mainly pictures of all manner of sacred places and artworks from all cultures. Bibliographical reference material is included and it is searchable by place and various categories. Even if you are only being an armchair tourist, you can pretend it's study.
Specific Projects (return to top)
Medieval Wall Painting in English Parish Churches
This site, produced by a lecturer at the Open University in Britain, could well develop into a valuable resource as it aims to become a catalogue of wall paintings in English churches. The organisation of the site is a bit confusing, but the amount of material on it has grown rapidly, as it is a developing project. The author has been brave in choosing an art form which is very difficult to photograph, but it is an area which is very underrepresented in art publication and therefore in the public conciousness.
If you Google the name of any famous cathedral, you will now get a cascade of sites for each one, but this one is something special. For one thing, where else would you find a site put up in 1995 that still looks totally awesome. If you can't go there, I guess this is the next best thing. If you have been there, you will find it fascinating. There are photos, computer generated images, videos, music and text.
This site disappeared for a while, along with all other sites illustrating the Bayeux Tapestry. It is now back, and we don't know what that was all about. It has very high quality photographs of the complete tapestry.
The Reading Bayeux Tapestry
"The what?" I hear you cry. In the late 19th century it was decided that Britain should have its very own version of the Bayeux Tapestry, and so a copy was made. It is now in the Museum of Reading and this site allows you to look at all of it. If you compare it with the original on the site above, you can see how good a job the 19th century needleworkers did.
A set of drawings of the tapestry images can be found on ArtServe.
Exeter Cathedral Keystones and Carvings
This is an example of the type of site that we can hope will be developed in the future. It is, in fact, a genuine research archive of descriptions and photographs of all the carvings in the interior of Exeter Cathedral. It has a good text, professionally footnoted and there are various ways of accessing information. Perhaps a bit too detailed for the armchair tourist, but a resource for the student or researcher and a pioneering effort at putting visual data into public access.
The Monumental Brass Society
The Monumental Brass Society was founded in 1887 to promote interest in these fascinating funerary monuments, and to record them through brass rubbing. They have put up this web site to show that they are powering on into the 21st century. There is information about the history of brasses and brass rubbing, numerous good quality images, and details about their activities. They do tend to belong to the "long pages with too many large images" school of web design, but the site is definitely worth a visit. There is a rather scarey section on recent thefts of brasses from parish churches.
Researching HIstoric Buildings in the British Isles
This site has changed its title and grown massively over the years. It contains a great deal of background material, bibliographies and links about all aspects of historic buildings and their social contexts, and how to undertake research on them. The site is a model of clear presentation and efficient navigation, as well as an excellent example of how a web project can grow. Anyone interested in any aspect of the historic built landscape of Britain should check it out.
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