Influence of Memory Palace on Medieval Art

A thought occurred to me recently and I’m wondering if there is any veracity to it. Does anyone know or have resources regarding the influence of the method of loci on art? I’ve noticed that some paintings out of the Middle Ages and Renaissance are filled with all kinds of random details and images–so much so that the modern person feels like they are convoluted. I was also reading a book out of the Middle Ages called “The Marriage of Philology and Mercury” which describes the 7 liberal arts. It’s a very strange allegory filled with all kinds of odd, random descriptions. For example, each art is personified as a human and there are various symbols used to communicate the content of each art. I wonder if this kind of art was well received at the time because people were accustomed to thinking about things in terms of odd but memorable images. Does anyone have resources along these lines?

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Yes, Medieval Art is very mnemonic. Look into the work of Mary Carruthers. She has a few books on it but I’ve only read “The Book of Memory” which I recommend without reservation for anyone who has some knowledge of philosophy. Also, Lynne Kelly who is a member here talks about the mnemonic nature of some some medieval paintings as well in “Memory Craft.” The one by Carruthers goes the most in depth for medieval culture and how they used memory palaces.


Wonderful, thank you for the recommendation!