The Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the temple of Jerusalem, 1050 (detail). The Morgan Library and Museum, New York. Google Art Project.


Ottonian Art

  • Begins: Wednesday 24 January 2024
    Until: Wednesday 28 February 2024
    (11am-1pm NB: no class on 14 February)
  • Lettsom House, First Floor, 11 Chandos Street, London W1G 9EB (NB: There is no lift in this building)
  • Lecturer: Dr Sally Dormer

Otto, King of the Saxons, was crowned Emperor of the Romans in February 962, in Old St Peter’s, Rome, by Pope John XII, thereby reviving the lapsed imperial title of the Frankish Carolingian emperors. Otto I (d. 973), his son, Otto II (d. 983), grandson, Otto III (d. 1002) and great-nephew Henry II (d. 1024), collectively known as the Ottonians, alongside influential ecclesiastics like Gero, Archbishop of Cologne (d. 976), Matilda, Abbess of Essen (d. 1011), and Bernward, Archbishop of Hildesheim (d. 1022), manipulated the visual arts to communicate and consolidate their power, commissioning illuminated manuscripts, goldsmiths’ work, enamels, cast bronzes and ivory carvings characterised by monumental forms laced with intense spirituality. Grand churches, like the abbey at Gernrode and St Michael’s, Hildesheim presaged the emergence of the mid-eleventh century Romanesque architectural style. These spectacular, relatively unknown, late tenth- and early eleventh-century monuments and artefacts will provide the focus of this five-week course.

Week 1  Historical introduction
Ottonian church architecture
Week 2  Imperial books and their luxury covers
Week 3  Goldsmiths’ work
Week 4  Ivory carving
Week 5  Ecclesiastical patrons


 Dr Sally Dormer is a specialist medieval art historian, with an MA in Medieval Art History and PhD on Medieval illuminated manuscripts from the Courtauld Institute, London University. Sally founded the ongoing V&A Late Medieval Europe and Early Renaissance Year Course 1250-1500 in 1993, and in 2009 devised the V&A Early Medieval Year Course 300-800, for which she is now Course Director. She has lectured for Gresham College and The Arts Society. She was, until recently, Dean of European Studies, a study abroad semester, for two universities in Tennessee, USA.

Members only

Now in progress

Book places