Hirn, The Sacred Shrine
According to the original design, this book was to serve as a commentary on the pictorial representations of religious subjects. It seemed to the author that the painting and sculpture of the Church would gain additional interest if they were displayed in relation to the Church s poetry. In the case of highly developed art, such a literary interpretation is doubtless superfluous. The work of the Renaissance, and especially of the High Renaissance, certainly does not require any textual commentary in order to be immediately appreciated. In Medieval art, however, there are many features which seem strange to any one who has not been initiated into the medieval conception of life; and if here, too, the purely artistic element can be understood and explained only with the help of a criticism which, in the fir st place, pays attention to the technical qualities, yet that element is often hidden from the superficial view. Therefore the study of the literary motive, which in modern art is rightly considered to be of secondary importance, may, in the case of the older painting, serve as a help to the attention and an aid to the memory. For the present writer, at any rate, the old pictures gained an additional attraction after he had learned to recognize all the ideas to which they gave expression; and it seemed as if even the religious sculptures and pictures would have more to tell, from a purely artistic point of view, if one tried to look at them as they were looked at by the faithful. Thus, religious art led on to the study of the Christian mythology; that is to say, to the legends and poems which are illustrated in medieval works of art.