This study advances two central claims based on a detailed investigation of the Byzantine ivory plaque depicting the Hodegetria now in the Museum für Spätantike und Byzantinische Kunst in Berlin (inv. no. 2394), which bears an elegant Latin poetic inscription carved upon its frame. First, it argues on the basis of historical, artistic, and epigraphic evidence that the hitherto unknown presul Bertoldus named in the inscription as the patron of the work can be identified as Bishop Berthold of Toul (996-1019), a prominent Lotharingian bishop under Henry II and a contemporary of the better known Ottonian bishops, Egbert of Trier and Bernward of Hildesheim. Second, in addition to the bold methods of episcopal use of eastern exotica, the study analyzes the cultural significance of the emergence around the year 1000 of the practice of incising inscriptions on ivories, often Byzantine works, that actually name a patron and commemorate an act of artistic patronage. The study argues that these inscriptions offer important evidence for the emergence of a new element in Ottonian episcopal self-identity: the self-conscious and public assertion by bishops of their roles as cultural impresarios and arbiters of taste.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts