Mosan art is a regional style of art from the valley of the Meuse in present-day Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Although in a broader sense the term applies to art from this region from all periods, it generally refers to Romanesque art, with Mosan Romanesque architecture, stone carving, metalwork, enamelling and manuscript illumination reaching a high level of development during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.
The Meuse river valley lay in the heart of the earlier Carolingian Empire and therefore the style draws largely from the heritage of the Carolingian art tradition. Thus, Mosan art contains strong classical elements, which separates it from the international Romanesque style seen elsewhere during the period, for example in France,  Germany  England and Italy. However, it shares with mainstream Romanesque art elements such as the treatment of space. Although the iconography of 11th- and 12th-century Meuse valley art largely draws on Biblical inspiration, some of the elaborately carved capitals in the two main churches in Maastricht depict scenes from many aspects of daily life, as well as images from an intriguing world of fantasy.
The Mosan region was formed largely by the boundary of the Bishopric of Liège, which had strong political links to the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as to the bishops of Cologne. The region's main artistic centres were the cities of Liège, Huy, Dinant, Namur, Tongeren, Maastricht, Roermond and Aachen, as well as a number of important monasteries: Sint-Truiden, Aldeneik, Herkenrode, Averbode, Munsterbilzen, Susteren, Sint Odiliënberg, Rolduc, Burtscheid, Kornelimünster, Stavelot, Nivelles, Aulne, Floreffe, Flône, Celles, Gembloux and Lobbes. Mosan art at its peak had a strong influence on bordering regions, notably on Rhineland art (Cologne, Bonn).
Mosan Romanesque art has been described by art historians as the first golden age of Netherlandish art (before early Netherlandish painting and Dutch Golden Age painting). Usually the term Mosan art does not include Medieval literature although Heinrich von Veldeke may be considered the first poet writing in Middle Dutch (as well as Middle High German).
Mosan architecture can be seen as a distinctive branch in Romanesque architecture, a regional style that produced imposing churches in Aachen, Liège and Maastricht, as well as monasteries in rural areas. The fully developed Mosan style of the 12th century is a comprise between the older Meuse valley traditions and foreign influences, mainly coming from the Rhineland and Italy. An outstanding factor in Mosan architecture is the closed west front (westwerk). Unfortunately, some of the largest churches, notably Liège cathedral, and the Stavelot and Sint-Truiden abbeys, were destroyed.
Mosan stone carving reached a peak in the 12th century in Maastricht, Liège and Nivelles. Maastricht 'metsen' (stone carvers) worked on capitals and reliefs as far afield as Utrecht, Bonn and Eisenach.
Metalwork has been considered the high art of the 12th and early 13th-century Meuse region, culminating in the work of Nicholas of Verdun, which is of exceptionally high quality. The Shrine of the Three Kings at Cologne Cathedral, the Anno Shrine in Siegburg and the Shrine of Our Lady in Tournai are among his best work. Other important metalworkers were Renier de Huy and Hugo d'Oignies.
Very little has come to us from what must have been an impressive body of Mosan murals. Wolfram von Eschenbach, in his Parzival expressed his high regard for Maastricht (and Cologne) painters (Parzival, 158, 13-16). Book illumination, like the rest of the arts, was at its zenith in the second half of the 12th century. The principal centres were the abbey of Saint Laurent in Liège and the abbeys of Stavelot and Lobbes. Another highly developed art was vitreous enameling.
Maastricht is a city and a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands. It is the capital and largest city of the province of Limburg. Maastricht is located on both sides of the Meuse, at the point where the Jeker joins it. Mount Saint Peter (Sint-Pietersberg) is largely situated within the city's municipal borders. Maastricht is adjacent to the border with Belgium and is part of the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, an international metropolis with a population of about 3.9 million, which includes the nearby German and Belgian cities of Aachen, Liège and Hasselt.
Saint Servatius was bishop of Tongeren —Latin: Atuatuca Tungrorum, the capital of the Tungri—. Servatius is patron saint of the city of Maastricht and the towns of Schijndel and Grimbergen. He is one of the Ice Saints. His feast day is May 13.
Carolingian architecture is the style of north European Pre-Romanesque architecture belonging to the period of the Carolingian Renaissance of the late 8th and 9th centuries, when the Carolingian dynasty dominated west European politics. It was a conscious attempt to emulate Roman architecture and to that end it borrowed heavily from Early Christian and Byzantine architecture, though there are nonetheless innovations of its own, resulting in a unique character.
The Basilica of Saint Servatius is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Servatius, in the city of Maastricht, the Netherlands. The architecturally hybrid but mainly Romanesque church is situated next to the Gothic church of Saint John, backing onto the town's main square, Vrijthof.
The High Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier, or Trier Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is the oldest church in Germany and the largest religious structure in Trier, notable for its long life span and grand design. The central part of the nave was built of Roman brick in the early fourth century, resulting in a cathedral that was added onto gradually in different eras. The imposing Romanesque westwork, with four towers and an additional apse, has been copied repeatedly. The Trier Cathedral Treasury contains an important collection of Christian art. In 1986 the church was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier.
The Collegiate Church of St. Bartholomew is an historical building in Liège, Belgium. Founded outside the city walls, it was built in coal sandstone, starting in the late 11th century and lasting until the late 12th century. It underwent, like most ancient religious buildings, modifications through the centuries. Nevertheless, the Meuse Romanesque—Ottonian architecture character of its architecture remained deeply rooted. The 18th century saw the addition of two more aisles, the opening of a neoclassical portal in the walls of the westwork, and the French Baroque redecoration of the interior. The interior of the western section has recently been restored back to the original style.
Quedlinburg Abbey was a house of secular canonesses (Frauenstift) in Quedlinburg in what is now Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 936 on the initiative of Saint Mathilda, the widow of the East Frankish King Henry the Fowler, as his memorial. For many centuries it and its abbesses enjoyed great prestige and influence. Quedlinburg Abbey was an Imperial Estate and one of the approximately forty self-ruling Imperial Abbeys of the Holy Roman Empire. It was disestablished in 1802/3. The church, known as Stiftskirche St Servatius, is now used by the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Germany.
Monulph was a sixth-century bishop of Tongeren and Maastricht, and is revered as a Roman Catholic saint.
The Diocese of Liège is a Latin Church ecclesiastical territory or diocese of the Catholic Church in Belgium. The diocese was erected in the 4th century and presently covers the same territory as Belgium's Liège Province, but it was historically much larger. Currently, the diocese is a suffragan in the ecclesiastical province of the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels. Its cathedra is found within St Paul's Cathedral in the episcopal see of Liège.
The Church of Saint Anne is a partly Romanesque, partly Gothic church in Aldeneik, Belgium.
The baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège is a Romanesque brass or bronze baptismal font made between 1107 and 1118 now in St Bartholomew's Church, Liège in Liège, Belgium. The font is a major masterpiece of Mosan art, remarkable for the classicism of its style, whose origin has been the subject of great debate among art historians. The Meuse river valley in modern Belgium and France, roughly coterminous with the Diocese of Liège, was the leading 12th-century centre of Romanesque metalwork, which was still the most prestigious medium in art.
The Princely Abbey of Stavelot-Malmedy, also Principality of Stavelot-Malmedy, sometimes known with its German name Stablo, was an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire. Princely power was exercised by the Benedictine abbot of the imperial double monastery of Stavelot and Malmedy, founded in 651. Along with the Duchy of Bouillon and the Prince-Bishopric of Liège, it was one of only three principalities of the Southern Netherlands that were never part of the Spanish, later Austrian Netherlands, which after 1500 were assigned to the Burgundian Circle while the principalities were assigned to the Lower Rhenish Imperial Circle.
St. Lambert's Cathedral, Liège was the cathedral of Liège, Belgium, until 1794, when its destruction began. This enormous Gothic cathedral, dedicated to Saint Lambert of Maastricht, occupied the site of the present Place Saint-Lambert in the centre of Liège.
Renier de Huy was a 12th-century metalworker and sculptor to whom is attributed a major masterpiece of Mosan art, the baptismal font at St Bartholomew's Church, Liège in Liège, Belgium of 1107–18. The Meuse river valley in modern Belgium and France, roughly comprising the Diocese of Liège, was the leading 12th century centre of Romanesque metalwork, which was still the most prestigious medium in art. Nothing is known of Rainer's life other than that a "Reinerus aurifaber" witnessed a charter of the Bishop of Liège relating to a church in Huy in 1125, but the 15th century Liège chronicle mentions him as the artist of the font. He may have died about 1150. Another equally shadowy figure in Mosan metalwork from the next generation, Godefroid de Huy/de Claire, also came from the small but prosperous city of Huy on the Meuse.
The Basilica of Our Lady is a Romanesque church in the historic center of Maastricht, Netherlands. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and is a Roman Catholic parish church in the Diocese of Roermond. The church is often referred to as the Star of the Sea, after the church's main devotion, Our Lady, Star of the Sea.
The Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servatius is a museum of religious art and artifacts inside the Basilica of Saint Servatius in Maastricht, Netherlands.
The Doppelkirche Schwarzrheindorf is a Romanesque church in Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The church was once part of a Benedictine nunnery located at Schwarzrheindorf, now part of Bonn. The "double church" has an upper church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and a lower church dedicated to Pope Clement I. The church is famous for its fine 12th-century frescos.
The Pilgrimage of the Relics or Maastricht Septennial Pilgrimage is a seven-yearly Catholic event in the Dutch city of Maastricht. Originating in the Middle Ages, it developed from a pilgrimage to the grave of Saint Servatius into the present-day religious, historical, cultural and commercial enterprise. Highlights in the programme are the displaying or unveiling of the relics in the main churches and secondly, the processions with the town's main relics. The next pilgrimage will take place in 2025.