St. Bernard and Christian Art


Author: YANG Daosheng, Professor of School of Fine Art, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.


The thesis discusses the establishment of monastic art standards set by St. Bernard, an abbot of a medieval monastery, through an analysis of the context of an oft-quoted passage from Bernard’s classic text on art, “A Defense of Abbot William”. His opposition to the construction of the ornate Gothic church by Abbot Suger of St. Denis was an objection to the monastic abuse of art, not to its use by the Church. St. Bernard’s views led to the formation of a particular Cistercian style of art. The thesis further analyzes the portrayal of the medieval Madonna under Bernard’s influence, as well as artworks based on his own life, miracles, and visions. These analyses conclude by showing that this saint, who was considered as an opponent of visual art, had a significant impact on the history of Christian visual art.


St. Bernard, Monasticism, Cistercians, Christian Art, Image of Virgin

Full Text (International Version):

YANG Daosheng JSCC

Full Text (Simplified Chinese Version):

YANG Daosheng JSCC