The Wittelsbach Court in Munich: history and authority in the visual arts (1460-1508)

Dahlem, Andreas M. (2009) The Wittelsbach Court in Munich: history and authority in the visual arts (1460-1508). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The culture at the ducal court of Sigmund and Albrecht IV of Bavaria-Munich was characterised by a coexistence of traditional as well as novel concepts and interests, which were expressed in the dukes’ artistic, architectural and literary patronage. Apart from examining the orthodox means of aristocratic self-aggrandizement like jousting, clothes, decorative arts and precious, exotic objects, this thesis discusses ‘innovative’ tendencies like the forward-looking application of retrospective motifs, historicising styles as well as the dukes’ genealogy, the ducal government’s imprint on the territory and the aesthetic qualities of the landscape.

The study of a selection of buildings and works of art with the methodologies of the stylistic analysis, iconology and social history emphasises the conceptual relations between the ducal court’s various cultural products, which were conceived as ensembles and complemented each other. The elucidation of their meanings to contemporaries and the patrons’ intentions is substantiated with statements in contemporary written sources like travel reports, chronicles and the ducal court’s literary commissions.

The principal chapters explore three thematic strands that are idiosyncratic for the culture at the court of Sigmund and Albrecht IV between 1460 and 1508, because they were consistently realised in several buildings and works of art. The first chapter provides an overview of the history of Munich, the Duchy of Bavaria and the Wittelsbach dynasty. The second chapter explores the princely self-conception at the threshold of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era by considering the application of clothes, decorative arts, knightly skills, exotic animals, and monuments of the patrons’ erudition as means of social communication and differentiation. The third chapter considers the dukes’ awareness as well as ‘manipulation’ of their genealogy and history as a forward-looking means for legitimating and realising their political objectives. It also examines the symbolism and origins of historicising motifs in art and architecture like the Church of Our Lady’s bulbous domes that acted as markers of the ducal sepulchre. The fourth chapter scrutinizes the impact of the dukes’ government and artistic as well as architectural patronage on their territory. It also considers emergence of poly-focal panoramic views from the interiors of castle and palaces into the surrounding countryside by examining the origins of this phenomenon and the perception of the landscape’s aesthetic qualities.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: architecture, arts, painting, sculpture, prints, early printed books, Middle Ages, Early Modern Age, Late Gothic, Renaissance, fifteenth century, sixteenth century, 15th century, 16th century, Munich, Bavaria, Germany, Blutenburg, Grünwald, Pipping, Dachau, Landshut, Menzing, München, Bayern, Deutschland, Holy Roman Empire, court culture, princely patronage, princes, aristocracy, education, legitimation, genealogy, ancestors, Wittelsbach, House of Bavaria, Dukes of Bavaria, Emperor Louis the Bavarian, Albrecht IV of Bavaria-Munich, Albrecht IV von Bayern-München, Sigmund of Bavaria-Munich, Sigismund von Bayern-München, Holy Sepulchre, bulbous domes, Church of Our Lady, Frauenkirche, Alter Hof, Neuveste, poly-focal panoramic views, gardens
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Culture and Creative Arts > History of Art
Supervisor's Name: Richards, Dr. John and Gibbs, Prof. Robert
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mr Andreas M. Dahlem
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-892
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:27

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