In service of the Church
Medieval European art existed in the service of the Catholic Church. People’s lives were shaped by Christian doctrine. They would bow the knee before altarpieces, statues of the Virgin Mary and crucifixes, say a prayer and light a candle.
The exhibits tell us about the faith, mindset and living conditions of that era, but also about a world beyond the confines of Sweden. Art was international.
The art on display here comes from churches, and the colourful imagery in the church differed from the pictures in people’s homes. When Sweden abandoned Catholicism during the 16th century and the Church was subordinated to the Crown, the artefacts remained in the churches. The end of the 19th century saw an upsurge of interest in medieval art, and the Swedish History Museum began collecting this legacy, thereby laying the foundations of a unique collection.
The best of the unique altarpieces, sculptures, statues and crucifixes are on display in our recently renewed exhibition of Medieval Art.
Welcome to a visual walk through the history of art, from the 12th to the 16th century!