Art of the Crusader Period in the Levant
- LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2021
- LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920105-0109
- LAST REVIEWED: 18 August 2021
- LAST MODIFIED: 24 May 2017
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199920105-0109
How to characterize the art and architecture of those Western settlers who arrived in the Levant in the wake of the First Crusade (1099) is a question that remains subject to debate. The art, architecture, and material culture of this population is here described as “Frankish” rather than the more traditional “Crusader,” since the former was the term applied to Western settlers regardless of their country of origin or social status by the populations of the Eastern Mediterranean. While the chronological scope of Frankish art and architecture potentially extends much later, this article privileges developments in the Eastern Mediterranean between the years 1099 and 1291, the traditional dates associated with the Frankish occupation of the Levant. The mainland possessions won by the crusaders, to include the Kingdom of Jerusalem, the County of Tripoli, the Principality of Antioch, the County of Edessa, and portions of Armenian Cilicia, were the principle sites of Frankish art and architectural patronage. These territories correspond roughly to the modern Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Armenia, and south-central Turkey. Other equally important locations include the monastery of Saint Catherine’s in the Sinai that, while only briefly a crusader possession, is strongly linked with Frankish icon painting; the Crusader Kingdom of Cyprus, established by the Lusignan dynasty of Jerusalem in 1192; and the Latin Empire of Constantinople and its vassal states (1204–1261). While foundational studies attempted to identify the oeuvre and ethnic origins of individual Frankish artists, particularly those operating in the Levant, the past few decades witnessed significant scholarly dispute concerning the nature or character of this artistic phenomenon as a whole. Discussion centered upon the disparate stylistic and iconographic character of Frankish art and architecture, as such works may exhibit elements of Western Christian, Eastern Christian, and Islamic visual traditions simultaneously. Are they therefore best described as colonial, crucial to the development of a “Maniera Greca,” constitutive of a Mediterranean “lingua franca,” or neatly summarized under the all-encompassing rubric of Crusader art? Proponents of Crusader art argue that it is a geographically and chronologically circumscribable phenomenon in which the salient ideological and local concerns of the crusader enterprise are consistently manifest, a line of reasoning that privileges the visual and material record over earlier scholarly emphasis on artists’ ethnicity or place of origin. More recent scholarship, however, approaches the art and architecture of the Franks through a postcolonial lens, emphasizing the neglected but essential role of Eastern Christian and Islamic visual traditions.
Modern scholarship on Frankish art and architecture emerged in the wake of the Napoleonic expeditions to the Levant. The establishment of the British and French mandates and attendant partitioning of the Middle East after the First World War, followed by creation of the state of Israel in 1948, further facilitated Western access to crusader sites. Melchior de Vogüé 1860 is the first modern survey of extant Frankish churches in the Holy Land and defines Frankish architecture as a colonial exponent of the French Romanesque. Rey 1871 offers the first study of Crusader castles and fortifications in Syria and Cyprus. Diehl 1897 sustains the Franco-centric approach of Melchior de Vogüé and Rey and expands inquiry beyond architecture to sculpture, painting, mosaic, and numismatics. Viaud 1910 and Vincent and Abel 1912–1926 are the first major comprehensive studies of the important Church of the Annunciation at Nazareth and the Holy Sepulchre, respectively. While still Franco-centric, Enlart 1925–1928 is the first comprehensive art historical account to acknowledge the comingling of Western and local visual traditions in Frankish art and architecture. Deschamps 1930 is an important early study of the famous Nazareth capitals in which the author argues for the sculptures’ Burgundian stylistic pedigree. Rather than a colonial French product, Boase 1938–1939 defines Frankish art as the distinctive intermingling of Western and Eastern artistic traditions in Palestine.
Boase, Thomas S. R. “The Arts in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 2 (1938–1939): 1–21.
Defines Frankish art as a composite of Latin, Byzantine, and Armenian visual traditions, a position upheld by the majority of scholars in the wake of the Second World War. First major English language study of the subject.
Deschamps, Paul. “La sculpture française en Palestine et en Syrie á l’époque des Croisades.” Monuments et mémoires de la Fondation Eugène Piot 31 (1930): 91–118.
Follows established orthodoxy in arguing for the French character of the art and architecture of the mainland Crusader territories. Identified Burgundian Romanesque analogues for the famous Nazareth capitals and a handful of Frankish sculptural remains.
Diehl, Charles. “Les monuments de l’Orient latin.” Revue de l’Orient latin 5 (1897): 293–310.
Important fin de siècle account of the state of research establishes connections between French and Levantine ecclesiastical and military architecture, supplemented by some attention to sculpture, painting, mosaics, and numismatics.
Enlart, Camille. Les monuments des croisés dans le Royaume de Jérusalem: Architecture religieuse et civile. 4 vols. Paris: Geuthner, 1925–1928.
First comprehensive study of Frankish art and architecture in Syria-Palestine written from an art historical perspective expands architectural corpus of Melchior de Vogüé 1860. Characterizes Frankish art as a French colonial enterprise, but emphasizes blending of European and local visual traditions. Two text volumes and two atlas volumes.
Melchior de Vogüé, Charles Jean. Les églises de la Terre Sainte. Paris: Didron, 1860.
Rey, E. Guillaume. Étude sur les monuments de l’architecture militaire des croisés en Syrie et dans l’île de Chypre. Collection de documents inédits sur l’histoire de France, series 1: Histoire politique. Paris: Impr. Nationale, 1871.
Earliest survey of Crusader castles includes fortifications in Syria and Cyprus. Argues for distinct Hospitaller and Templar designs. Architecture of each site described in detail, contextualized, and dated. Question of Eastern and Western design origins raised for the first time. Supplemented by important drawings, plans, and engraved plates.
Viaud, Prosper. Nazareth et ses deux églises de l’Annonciation et de Saint-Joseph. Paris: A. Picard et Fils, 1910.
First modern study of the Frankish Church of the Annunciation at Nazareth. Includes archaeological plans and first full description of the five extraordinarily preserved historiated capitals discovered in the shrine-grotto beneath the church in 1908.
Vincent, Hugues, and Félix-Marie Abel. Jérusalem: Recherches de topographie, d’archéologie et d’histoire. Paris: Gabalda, 1912–1926.
First comprehensive account of the Frankish Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Includes valuable detailed plans, scale drawings, plates in color and in black and white.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
- Activist and Socially Engaged Art
- Adornment, Dress, and African Arts of the Body
- Ancient Egyptian Art
- Ancient Pueblo (Anasazi) Art
- Angkor and Environs
- Art and Archaeology of the Bronze Age in China
- Art and Architecture in the Medieval Kingdom of Hungary
- Art and Propaganda
- Art of Medieval Iberia
- Art of the Crusader Period in the Levant
- Art of the Dogon
- Art of the Mamluks
- Art of the Plains Peoples
- Artemisia Gentileschi
- Arts of Senegambia
- Arts of the Pacific Islands
- Assyrian Art and Architecture
- Australian Aboriginal Art
- Aztec Empire, Art of the
- Babylonian Art and Architecture
- Bamana Arts and Mande Traditions
- Barbizon Painting
- Bartolomeo Ammannati
- Bernini, Gian Lorenzo
- Bohemia and Moravia, Renaissance and Rudolphine Art of
- Borromini, Francesco
- Brazilian Art and Architecture, Post-independence
- Burkina Art and Performance
- Byzantine Art and Architecture
- Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da
- Carracci, Annibale
- Chaco Canyon and Other Early Art in the North American Sou...
- Chicana/o Art
- Chimú Art and Architecture
- Colonial Art of New Granada (Colombia)
- Conceptual Art and Conceptualism
- Contemporary Art
- Courbet, Gustave
- Czech Modern and Contemporary Art
- Daumier, Honoré
- David, Jacques-Louis
- Delacroix, Eugène
- Design, Garden and Landscape
- Destruction in Art
- Dürer, Albrecht
- Early Christian Art
- Early Medieval Architecture in Western Europe
- Eighteenth-Century Europe
- Ephemeral Art and Performance in Africa
- Ethiopia, Art History of
- European Art, Historiography of
- European Medieval Art, Otherness in
- Eyck, Jan van
- Festivals in West Africa
- French Impressionism
- Gender and Art in the Middle Ages
- Gender and Art in the Renaissance
- Gender and Art in the 17th Century
- Giotto di Bondone
- Gothic Architecture
- Gothic Art in Italy
- Goya y Lucientes, Francisco José
- Great Zimbabwe and its Legacy
- Greek Art and Architecture
- Greenberg, Clement
- Géricault, Théodore
- Iconography in the Western World
- Installation Art
- Islamic Art and Architecture in North Africa and the Iberi...
- Japanese Architecture
- Japanese Ceramics
- Japanese Literati Painting and Calligraphy
- Jewish Art, Ancient
- Jewish Art, Medieval to Early Modern
- Jewish Art, Modern and Contemporary
- Jones, Inigo
- Kahlo, Frida
- Katsushika Hokusai
- Lastman, Pieter
- Leonardo da Vinci
- Luca della Robbia (or the Della Robbia Family)
- Luisa Roldán
- Markets and Auctions, Art
- Marxism and Art
- Maya Art
- Medieval Art and Liturgy (recent approaches)
- Medieval Art and the Cult of Saints
- Medieval Art in Scandinavia, 400-800
- Medieval Textiles
- Meiji Painting
- Merovingian Period Art
- Moche Art
- Modern Sculpture
- Monet, Claude
- Māori Art and Architecture
- Museums in Australia
- Museums of Art in the West
- Nasca Art
- Native North American Art, Pre-Contact
- Nazi Looting of Art
- New Media Art
- New Spain, Art and Architecture
- Olmec Art
- Pacific Art, Contemporary
- Palladio, Andrea
- Parthenon, The
- Performance Art
- Perspective from the Renaissance to Post-Modernism, Histor...
- Peter Paul Rubens
- Philip II and El Escorial
- Photography, History of
- Pollock, Jackson
- Polychrome Sculpture in Early Modern Spain
- Postmodern Architecture
- Pre-Hispanic Art of Columbia
- Psychoanalysis, Art and
- Qing Dynasty Painting
- Rembrandt van Rijn
- Renaissance and Renascences
- Renaissance Art and Architecture in Spain
- Rivera, Diego
- Rodin, Auguste
- Roman Art
- Science and Conteporary Art
- Sculpture: Method, Practice, Theory
- South Asia and Allied Textile Traditions, Wall Painting of
- South Asia, Modern and Contemporary Art of
- South Asia, Photography in
- South Asian Architecture and Sculpture, 13th to 18th Centu...
- South Asian Art, Historiography of
- The Art of Medieval Sicily and Southern Italy through the ...
- The Art of Southern Italy and Sicily under Angevin and Cat...
- Theory in Europe to 1800, Art
- Timurid Art and Architecture
- Turner, Joseph Mallord William
- van Gogh, Vincent
- Viking Art
- Warburg, Aby
- Warhol, Andy
- Wari (Huari) Art and Architecture
- Wittelsbach Patronage from the late Middle Ages to the Thi...
- Women, Art, and Art History: Gender and Feminist Analyses
- Yuan Dynasty Art