[otto demus] byzantine mosaic decoration aspects (bookos.org)

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BYZANTINE MOSAICDECORATIONALSO BYOTTO DEMUS*THE MOSAICSOF NORMANSICILYOTTODEMUSBYZANTINE MOSAICDECORATIONASPECTSOFMONUMENTALARTINB rZANTIUMBOSTONBOOK & ARTSHOPBoston, MassachusettsFirst publishedintheU.S.A. /955Thirdimpression1964PRINTEDINGREATBRITAINToMy FRIENDS IN ENGLANDAND AUSTRIAFOREWORDCONTENTSPAGE xiiiITHECLASSICALSYSTEMOFMIDDLEBYZANTINECHURCHDECORATION 3INTRODUCTION 3THETHEORYOFTHEICON 5ARCHITECTURALANDTECHNICALCONDITIONS 10THEICON INSPACE 13THE IDEAL ICONOGRAPHIC SCHEME OF THE CROSS-IN-SQ,lJARECHURCH 14THE THREEZONES 16 Cupolas and Apses 17 The Festival Cycle 22 The Choir of Saints 26FORMALUNITT 30.Space 30 Light 35 Colour 37Modelling Technique 37IIHISTORYOFTHEMIDDLEBYZANTINESYSTEM.ITSSOURGES . Greek OrientalITSDEVELOPMENT Early Christian Period. . Fifth Century and Justinianic Period Post-Justinianic Period . Iconoclastic Period . Post-Iconoclastic andClassical ~ e r i o d sVll4343434344454655152CONTENTSITSDISSOLUTION. The Fresco BasilicanPlans . Provincial Influences .THEPROVINCES Sicily: The Twelfth Century . Venice: The Thirteenth Century .IIITHEIMPRINTOFTHESYSTEMONLATERARTTHERE-EMERGENCEOFPICTORIALSPACETHESPATIALNICHEPHYSICALSPACEANDFLATCOMPOSITION.SPATIALCOMPOSITIONSINFLATPROJECTION.The Ascension ThePentecostCONCLUSIONNOTESINDEX...VlllPAGE 6161626363646777777981828283848795LISTOF ILLUSTRATIONSAfter Diez-Demus.Photo Alinari.Photo Alinari.Photo Alinari.Photo Anderson.Photo Alinari.Photo Demus.Photo Alinari.Photo Alinari.After Diez-Demus.Photo Alinari.After Diez-Demus.After Diez-Demus.After Diez-Demus.Photo Alinari.After Diez-Demus.After Diez-Demus.After Diez-Demus.After Diez-Demus.AfterDiez-Demus.After G. Schmit, Koimesis.I. HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Interior.2. Torcello, Cathedral. Main apse.3. Monreale, Cathedral. Westwall of Southern Transept.4. Daphni, Catholicon. Annunciation andSaints.5. Palermo, Palatine Chapel. Interior towardswest.6. Venice, St. Mark's. Ascensioncupola.7. Daphni, Catholicon. Pantocrator cupola.8. Venice, St. Mark's. Pentecost cupola.9. Venice,St. Mark's. Emmanuel cupola.lo(a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Virgin inthe main apse.lo(b). Daphni, Catholicon. Nativity.I I (a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Nativity, main viewfromwest.I I (b). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Nativity,sideviewfromnorth.12(a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Baptism.12(b). Daphni, Catholicon. Baptism.13(a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Anastasis.13(b). Chios, Nea Moni. Anastasis.14. Hosios Lukas, Catholicon. Presentation.15. Daphni, Catholicon. Vaultswithfiguresof Saints.16(a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. S. Mercurius.16(b). Nicaea, Church of theKoimesis. SeatedEvangelist.IXLISTOFILLUSTRATIONSI7{a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. S. Peter.AfterDiez-Demus.I7(b). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. S. Andrew.AfterDiez-Demus.I8(a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. S.LukeStiriotes.After Diez-Demus.I8(b). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. SSe Kyros and John.After Diez-Demus.19. HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Narthextowardsnorth.After Diez-Demus,20. Monreale, Cathedral. ScenesfromtheLives of SSe Peter andPaul.Photo Anderson.21. Salonica, HaghiaSophia. Apostlesfrommaincupola.After Diehl, LeTourneau,Saladin.22. Torcello, Cathedral. Apostles in the main apse.Photo Alinari.23. Hosios Lukas, Catholicon. Washing of the Feet.After Diez-Demus.24. HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Incredulity of Thomas,detail.Arter Diez-Demus.25. Constantinople, HaghiaSophia. Angel in presbytery vault, detail.AfterWhittemore, Am. Journ. of Archeology, 1942.26. HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Medallion withChrist.After Diez-Demus.27(a). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Vault with medallions.After Diez-Demus.27(b). HosiosLukas, Catholicon. Vault withmedallions.After Diez-Demus.28. Daphni, Catholicon. S. Michael inBema.After Diez-Demus,29. Daphni, Catholicon. 'Virgin fromCrucifixion, detail.After Diez...Demus.30. Cefalu, Cathedral. Pantocrator inapse.Photo Anderson.31. Monreale, Cathedral. Pantocrator in apse.Photo Anderson.32(a). NewYork, ColI. Duveen. Virgin(panelonwood).After Muratov.32(b). Constantinople, KahriehDjami. S. Peter fromDeath of theVirgin, detail.Photo Sebah and Joailler.33. Constantinople, KahriehDjami. Nativity.Photo Sebah and Joailler.34. Rome, Sta. Costanza. Decoration of ring-vault.PhotoAnderson.35. Ravenna, S. ApollinareNuovo. Interior.AfterPeirce and Tyler.36. Ravenna, Baptistery of Neon. Cupola.AfterColasanti.37. Ravenna, Baptistery of theArians. Cupola.AfterColasanti.xLISTOFILLUSTRATIONS38. Ravenna, Baptistery of Neon. Interior.After Peirce and Tyler.39(a). Palermo, RoyalPalace, NormanStanza. East wall.Photo Anderson.39(b). Damascus, GreatMosque. Decor incourtyard.AfterdeLorey.40. Ravenna, S. Vitale. Upper part of south wall, presbytery.Photo Anderson.41. Ravenna, S. Vitale. Lower part of north wall, presbytery.Photo Anderson.42. Hosios Lukas, Catholicon. Ground plan.Mer Diez-Demus.43(a). Daphni, Catholicon. Ground plan.After Diez-Demus.43(b). Chios, Nea Moni. Ground plan.After Diez-Demus.44(a). Kiev, Haghia Sophia. Detail fromCommunion of the Apostles, in apse.After Diez-Demus.44(b). Kiev, St. Michael'sMonastery. Detail fromCommunion of theApostles, inapse.AfterDiez-Demus,45. Monreale, Cathedral. Interior towards north-east.Photo Anderson.46. Monreale, Cathedral. ElieserandRebecca.47Monreale, Cathedral. Jacob'sFlight andDream.18.Cefalu,Cathedral. Apse.49Monreale, Cathedral. Presbytery.50. Palermo, Martorana. ApostlesPaul and James.51. Palermo, Martorana. Cupola.52. Venice, St. Mark's. View towards south-east fromcentral square.53. Venice, St. Mark's. Scenes fromthePassion.54. Venice, St. Mark's. Scenes fromthe Acts.55. Venice, St. Mark's, Narthex. Cupola with scenes fromthe Creation.Photo Anderson.Photo Anderson.Photo Anderson.Photo Anderson.Photo Anderson.Photo Anderson."Photo Anderson.Photo Alinari.Photo Alinari.Photo Alinari.56. Venice,St. Mark's,Narthex. Cupola with scenes fromlife of Abraham.Photo Alinari.57. Venice, St. Mark's, Narthex. Cupola with scenes fromthestory ofJoseph(zndpart).. Photo Alinari.58. Venice, St. Mark's, Narthex. Cupola with scenesfromthe story of Joseph(3rdpart).Photo Alinari.59. Venice, St. Mark's, Narthex. Cupola with life of Moses.Photo Alinari.XlLISTOFILLUSTRATIONS60(a). Venice, St. Mark's, Narthex. Half cupola with scenes fromthelife of Moses.Photo Alinari.60(b). Constantinople, Kahrieh Djami. Mary received in the Temple.Photo Sebahand Joailler.61(a). Constantinople, KahriehDjami. Maryreceiving thepurple.PhotoSebah and Joailler.6I(b). Rome, Vatic. Libr. Menologium of Basil II, fol. 279. Stoning ofS.Stephen.After Codices eVatic. selecti.62{a). Paris, Bibl. Nat., Cd. gr. 1242. Transfiguration.After Diehl, Peinture Byzantine62(b). Rome, Vatic. Libr., Cd. gr. 120B. Ascension.After Codices eVatic. selecti.63. Monreale, Cathedral. Pentecost.Photo Anderson.64. Leningrad, PublicLibrary, Cd. Petrop. 2I. Pentecost.After Morey.XlIFOREWORDTHISbook, short andslight asit is, took a longtimetogrow. It wasfirstconceived inGreece, Sicily and Veniceinthetwentiesandthirties;thefirst draft wasjotteddownin a Canadian campin 1940andthefinal text was writtenin 1945 in London shortly before my return to mynative country. This text I wrote inwhat I hoped would turnout to bereadable English: my hopes were, however, deceived, and it needed notonlythekindhelpof twoself-effacingfriends, Dr. MargueriteKayand JohnBromley, M.A., but also athorough revision by Mr.A. S. B. Glover toproducethepresent version. If thebookisat all readableitisowingtothis help.Mythanks arealsoduetothescholarsof theWarburgInstitute, London,and to my friend Gerhard Frankl for help, encouragement and criticism.Mrs. R. Wallis andProf. David Talbot Rice have kindly helpedmeinreadingthe proofs. Dr. H. Buchthal gave me valuable aidingettingtogether andarranging theillustrations. Thepublishershavesparednoeffort toproducethe bookina satisfactoryform.Astothecontentsof thebookandthenewviewpointsit propagates, theymust speak for themselves. Ishould consider mytaskfulfilledif Ihad directedtheattentionnot onlyof Byzantinescholars, but alsoof a wider publicto anewpossibility of artisticappreciationof Byzantinedecorations. If mythesesare accepted I shall feel flattered; if they start discussion on some of the problemsI hadinmind, I shall becontent; andif theyfall flat I shall console myselfwiththethought that theworkingoutof themgaveme alot of funintimesinwhichfun was rather scarce.O. DEMUSXlllTHECLASSICALSYSTEMOF MIDDLEBYZANTINECHURCHDECORATIONITHECLASSICALSYSTEMOF MIDDLEBYZANTINECHURCHDECORATIONINTRODUCTIONONLYwithincomparatively recent times have historians of Byzantineart,. abandoninga purely archaeological andiconographical approachtotheirsubject, beguntoconsiderthemonuments ithas left primarilyon their merits as worksof art. The formal qualities of each image, the stylistictexture of each figure, have at last become their main centre of interest. Theseresearches, inwhichRussianandAmericanscholars areespeciallyactive, areencroachingmoreandmoreupona branchof studywhich, until lately, hadprided itself aboveall else onthecloseness of itsrelationshipwithexact archee-ology, philology and theology. Points of viewwhich, notso manyyearsago,were expressed onlybyword ofmouthor in the informal lecture, are nowfindingexpressioninprint, andaregraduallytransformingourwholeattitudetoByzantinism.Theyoungergenerationof art historiansinthis fieldhavedevotedmost oftheirlabourstoanalysing whatmightbecalledthe"microcosm"of Byzantineart; theanalysisof its macrocosmicstyle, ontheotherhand, has beenalmostentirelyneglected. Yet inthe case of anart which has left us some ofthegrandest and most homogeneous of decorations, this aspect is deserving ofspecial study. If they areconsideredas isolatedworks, Byzantine monumentalpaintings lose somethingoftheir essential value. Theywere not created asindependent pictures. Their relation to each other, to their architectural frame-workandtothe beholder must havebeen aprincipal concern of their creators.In the case of church decoration-the field in which Byzantine art rose, perhaps,toitsgreatest heigllts-the single worksare parts of an organic, hardly divisiblewholewhichisbuilt upaccordingtocertainfixedprinciples. Intheclassicalperiodof middleByzantine art-thatis, fromtheendof theninthtotheendof theeleventh century-these principles seemto formafairly consistentwhole,in whichcertain featuresare permissible andevennecessary, while others, con-sideredout of keepingwiththem, are avoided. Thissystemwas not purelyaformalisticone;it wasthetheologian'sconcernasmuchastheartist's. But itsiconographical anditsformal sidesarebut different aspectsof asingleunder-lying principle which might be defined,crudely perhaps, as the establishment of3BYZAN1'INEMOSAICan intimate relationship between the world of the beholder and the world of theimage. This relationship was certainly closer in Byzantine than it was inWesternmedia-val art. InByzantiumthebeholder wasnotkept at adistancefromtheimage; heenteredwithinitsauraof sanctity, and theimage, inturn,partookof thespaceinwhichhe moved. Hewas not somucha"beholder"as a"participant". Whileit does not aimat illusion, Byzantinereligiousartabolishes all clear distinction between the world of realityand the worldofappearance.The complete realization of the formal and iconographic scheme which grewout of thisfundamental principle is, however, anideal or, at least, anoptimalcase. Thenearestapproachtothisideal, theclassicalsolution, is embodied inthemosaicdecorationsof thegreat monasticchurches of theeleventhcentury.Theprinciples followedinthesemonuments of Imperialpietyandmunificencediffer widely from those which underlie early Christian and pre-IconoclastByzantine, andstill more Westernmedia-val decorations.The first thing which strikes the student ofmiddle Byzantine decorativeschemesis the comparatively narrow range of their subject-matter(i, 42, 43). They showalackof inventionandimaginationall themoreremarkablewhenwerealizethat thereexistedat thesametimeinByzantiumapowerful current of highlyimaginativeart whichhaditssourceinthenaiveimageryof thepeople. Butthiscurrent seems to have foundexpression not so much in monumental painting(save in the provincial hinterland) as in the illustrationofpopular religiousliterature, homileticor allegorical, evenof Scriptural bookssuchasthePsalteror liturgical compositions suchas the Akathistos. Inillustratingsuchtexts asthese the miniaturists could drawon the store ofantique, sub-antique andOriental imagerywhichlent itself toanassociativeelaborationof thewrittenword. Nosuch freedomwaseitherclaimed by or permittedtotheartistswho,as the representatives of official hieratic art, adorned the mosaic-decoratedchurchesof theByzantinemiddleages. Themoralisticveinwhichsogreatlyinfluencedthedecoration of Westerncathedrals, withtheirdidactic andethicalcycles, waslikewiseentirely outsidetheByzantine range. The occupations andlaboursof themonths, for instance, thepersonifiedvirtuesandvices, thealle-goriesof the liberal arts, the expression of eschatological fears and hopes, allthatmakesupthemonum.ental speculumuniversaleof Westerndecorations,' weshalllook for invain inside the magic circle of middle Byzantine mosaic compositions.Theselatteraretobe takenastheByzantineChurch'srepresentationof itselfrather than of Greek or Eastern Christianity; as the product ofabstracttheology rather than of popular piety. There is nothing original, nothingindividual, aboutmiddle Byzantinedecorations if theyareconsidered fromtheWesternpoint of view, that is, withregardto their contents. Theindividualpictures do not aim at evoking the emotions of pity, fear or hope; any such appealwouldhavebeen felt asall toohuman, tootheatrical, andout of tune withthe4THECLASSICALSYSTEMtenorof religiousassurancewhichpervadestheensembles andleavesnoroomfor spiritual and moral problems. The pictures make their appeal to thebeholder not as an individual humanbeing, asoul tobesaved, as it were, butasa member of the Church, withhis own assigned placeinthehierarchicalorganization. Thestressisnot laidonthesinglepictureinisolation: that is"common form" tothe beholder, since it follows a strict iconographic type, likethe suras of theKoranin Islamicdecoration, whichall thefaithful knowbyheart. The point of interest is rather the combination of the single items of thedecoration, their relationship to each other and tothe whole. It isin thisarrangement that we must lookfor theuniqueachievement of middle Byzan-tine decoration. The single pictures were more or less standardized bytradition; theever-newproblemfor the theologianandfor theartist was thebuildingupof theschemeasawhole. Thisis truenotonly of thecontentofthepictures, butalsoof theirvisualqualities. Inthelatterrespect itinvolvesamanneristapproachtoformsinso far asfigures, picturesandensembles arebuilt upout of traditionally fixeddetails andunits; forthecontent, it involvesapreponderance of thesystematic, the sociological interestinrelationsratherthan apreoccupation with problems of ethics.Inthese schemes ofdecoration all the parts are visible to the beholder,unlikethoseWesternmedieeval, especiallyGothic, decorations, of whichsomeessential constituents, once theywere finishedandset upintheirinaccessibleplaces, couldnever beseenbyhumaneye. Amajesticsinglenessof purposerunsrightthroughthe Byzantine schemes. Their authorsseemtohave hadastheir main aimto represent the central formula ofByzantine theology, theChristological dogma,together with its implications in the organization and theritual of theByzantineChurch. Therearenopictureswhichhavenot somerelationtothiscentraldogma: representations of Christ. inHisvariousaspects,of the Virgin, of Angels, Prophets, Apostles and Saints arranged in a hierarchicalorder which also. includes temporal rulers as Christ's vicegerents on earth.Historical cycles andsubjectsfromtheOldandtheNewTestaments, or fromapocryphalandlegendary writings, are inserted inthishierarchical systemnotsomuchfor their independent narrativevalueasfortheirimportanceastesti-moniestothe' truthof thecentraldogma.THE THEORr OFTHEICONEvery single picture, indeed, is conceived inthis sense, and middle Byzantinepictorial art asawholedrawsitsraisond' ctrefromadoctrine whichdevelopedin connection with Christological dogma. This doctrine was evolvedduring theIconoclastic controversy of the eighth and ninth centuries.2The relationbetween the prototype and its image, argued Theodore of Studium and John ofB5BYZANTINEMOSAICDECORATIONDamascus, isanalogous tothat betweenGodtheFather andChrist His Son.The Prototype, in accordance with Neoplatonic ideas, is thought of as producingits image of necessity, as ashadow is cast byamaterial object, in the same wayas the Father produces the Sonandthe whole hierarchy of the invisible andthevisible world, Thus the world itself becomes an uninterrupted series of"images"which includes indescending order fromChrist,the image of God, the Proorismoi(theNeoplatonic "jdeas "), man, symbolic objects and, finally, theimagesofthe painter, all emanating of necessity fromtheir various prototypes and throughthem fromthe Archetype, God. This process of emanation imparts to the imagesomething of thesanctity of thearchetype: theimage, althoughdifferingfromitsprototypeKerr' ovotov(accordingtoitsessence), is neverthelessidenticalwithit Ka(1' VTrOCTT