The Cloisters

The Cloisters is a subsidiary of the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) in Northern Manhattan, housing a remarkable mediæval collection.  It is in a woodland setting overlooking the Hudson River and well worth a visit.  Here are just a few images.

Mediaeval church ceiling

Mediaeval church ceiling

The Cloister was the heart of a monastery, comprising a covered walkway surrounding a large open courtyard and leading to the other monastic buildings.  The Cloisters incorporates cloisters from five monasteries in Southern France as well as other mediæval environments and items.  Most were collected by George Grey Barnard and John D Rockefeller, mainly in the nineteenth century.   The monasteries had already been broken apart in the Revolution and the preceding religious wars.


Sarcophagus of Ermengol X, Count of Urgell, Spain (Catalonia)
but probably an 18th century replacement.

Urgell was a small county in what is now Catalonia for which Ermengol (above) was Count between 1268 and 1314.  At this time it was sandwiched between Aragon and Barcelona with Andorra to the north and also three other counties adjoining.  Ermengol was part of a rebellion against Peter III of Aragon but then resumed as a loyal fief and later participated in the conquest of Minorca from the Moors.

Aragon had united with Barcelona by marriage in 1187, expanded further south along the coast and conquered the Majorcan Islands of Ibiza and Mallorca.  During Ermengol’s lifetime, Aragon also conquered Sicily and Malta as well as Minorca and were later to add Corsica, Sardinia, the Kingdom of Naples (Southern Italy) and part of Greece to their maritime Empire.  These days, Catalonia is seeking independence from Spain but has forgotten about their glorious past as part of Aragon.


Stained glass from Ebreichsdorf, Austria, c. 1390
and Tomb effigy of Jean d’Alluye, mid-13th century

Jean D’Alluye was a French knight and crusader who died in 1248.

Panel from a casket with hunting scenes, Paris, c. 1350.

Panel from a casket with hunting scenes, Paris, c. 1350.

These last two images are of tiny ivory carvings, probably no larger than the images themselves.


Left: Mirror case or box cover showing “Attack on the castle of love”, Paris, 1320-1340;
Right: Cover of writing tablet with fountain of youth and amorous scenes, Paris, 1320-1340;
both in ivory.

26 October 2011.

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