Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

 

Lamb of God

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

The presbytery.

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Mosaic of Theodora

 

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Apse mosaic.

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Triumphal arch mosaics of Jesus Christ and the Apostles.

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Mosaics of Justinianus I and Theodora.

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

 

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

Giacobbe Giusti, Basilica of San Vitale

The “Basilica of San Vitale” is a church in Ravenna, Italy, and one of the most important examples of early Christian Byzantine art and architecture in Europe. The Roman Catholic Church has designated the building a “basilica”, the honorific title bestowed on church buildings of exceptional historic and ecclesial importance, although of course it is not of architectural basilica form. It is one of eight Ravenna structures inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

History

The church was begun by Bishop Ecclesius in 526, when Ravenna was under the rule of the Ostrogoths and completed by the 27th Bishop of Ravenna, Maximian, in 547 preceding the Byzantine Exarchate of Ravenna.

The construction of the church was sponsored by Julius Argentarius, a Roman banker and architect, of whom very little is known, except that he also sponsored the construction of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe at around the same time.[1] (A donor portrait of the Julius Argentarius may appear among the courtiers on the Justinian mosaic.) The final cost amounted to 26,000 solidi (gold pieces).[2]

The central vault used a western technique of hollow tubes inserted into each other, rather than bricks. The ambulatory and gallery were vaulted only later in the Middle Ages.[3]

The Baroque fresco on the dome was made between 1778 and 1782 by S. Barozzi, U. Gandolfi and E. Guarana.[4]

Architecture

Ground plan of the building
Mosaics of Justinianus I and Theodora.

The church has an octagonal plan. The building combines Roman elements: the dome, shape of doorways, and stepped towers; with Byzantine elements: polygonal apse, capitals, narrow bricks, and an early example of flying buttresses. The church is most famous for its wealth of Byzantine mosaics, the largest and best preserved outside of Constantinople. The church is of extreme importance in Byzantine art, as it is the only major church from the period of the Emperor Justinian I to survive virtually intact to the present day. Furthermore, it is thought to reflect the design of the Byzantine Imperial Palace Audience Chamber, of which nothing at all survives. The belltower has four bells, the tenor one dates to the 16th century. According to legends, the church was erected on the site of the martyrdom of Saint Vitalis.[5] However, there is some confusion as to whether this is the Saint Vitalis of Milan, or the Saint Vitale whose body was discovered together with that of Saint Agricola, by Saint Ambrose in Bologna in 393.

Mosaic art

The presbytery.
Triumphal arch mosaics of Jesus Christ and the Apostles.

The interior of San Vitale

The central section is surrounded by two superposed ambulatories. The upper one, the matrimoneum, was reserved for married women. A series of mosaics in the lunettes above the triforia depict sacrifices from the Old Testament:[6] the story of Abraham and Melchizedek, and the Sacrifice of Isaac; the story of Moses and the Burning Bush, Jeremiah and Isaiah, representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel, and the story of Abel and Cain. A pair of angels, holding a medallion with a cross, crowns each lunette. On the side walls the corners, next to the mullioned windows, have mosaics of the Four Evangelists, under their symbols (angel, lion, ox and eagle), and dressed in white. Especially the portrayal of the lion is remarkable in its ferocity.

The cross-ribbed vault in the presbytery is richly ornamented with mosaic festoons of leaves, fruit and flowers, converging on a crown encircling the Lamb of God. The crown is supported by four angels, and every surface is covered with a profusion of flowers, stars, birds and animals, including many peacocks. Above the arch, on both sides, two angels hold a disc and beside them a representation of the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. They symbolize the human race (Jerusalem representing the Jews, and Bethlehem the Gentiles).

All these mosaics are executed in the Hellenistic-Roman tradition: lively and imaginative, with rich colors and a certain perspective, and with a vivid depiction of the landscape, plants and birds. They were finished when Ravenna was still under Gothic rule. The apse is flanked by two chapels, the prothesis and the diaconicon, typical for Byzantine architecture.

Inside, the intrados of the great triumphal arch is decorated with fifteen mosaic medallions, depicting Jesus Christ, the twelve Apostles and Saint Gervasius and Saint Protasius, the sons of Saint Vitale. The theophany was begun in 525 under bishop Ecclesius. It has a great gold fascia with twining flowers, birds, and horns of plenty. Jesus Christ appears, seated on a blue globe in the summit of the vault, robed in purple, with his right hand offering the martyr’s crown to Saint Vitale. On the left, Bishop Ecclesius offers a model of the church.

Justinian and Theodora panels

Apse mosaic.
The mosaic of Emperor Justinian and his retinue.

Empress Theodora and attendants.

Ceiling mosaic above the presbytery.

At the foot of the apse side walls are two famous mosaic panels, executed in 547. On the right is a mosaic depicting the East Roman Emperor Justinian I, clad in Tyrian purple with a golden halo, standing next to court officials, Bishop Maximian, palatinae guards and deacons. The halo around his head gives him the same aspect as Christ in the dome of the apse. Justinian himself stands in the middle, with soldiers on his right and clergy on his left, emphasizing that Justinian is the leader of both church and state of his empire.

The gold background of the mosaic shows that Justinian and his entourage are inside the church. The figures are placed in a V shape; Justinian is placed in the front and in the middle to show his importance with Bishop Maximian on his left and lesser individuals being placed behind them. This placement can be seen through the overlapping feet of the individuals present in the mosaic.[7]

Another panel shows Empress Theodora solemn and formal, with golden halo, crown and jewels, and a train of court ladies. She is almost depicted as a goddess. As opposed to the V formation of the figures in the Justinian mosaic, the mosaic with Empress Theodora shows the figures moving from left to right into the church. Theodora is seen holding the wine.

See also

External video
Lamb of God (San Vitale).jpg
Byzantine Art: San Vitale, Ravenna, Smarthistory[8]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Vitale

http://www.giacobbegiusti.com

 

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Giacobbe Giusti, “Garden of Eden” mosaic in mausoleum of Galla Placidia

Giacobbe Giusti, “Garden of Eden” mosaic in mausoleum of Galla Placidia

Ceiling mosaic Garden of Eden.

 

Giacobbe Giusti, “Garden of Eden” mosaic in mausoleum of Galla Placidia

The Good Shepherd.

Giacobbe Giusti, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

 
Ravnna-gallaplacidia.jpg

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location Ravenna, Italy Edit this at Wikidata
 
Criteria Cultural: (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) Edit this on Wikidata
Reference 788-001
Inscription 1996 (20th Session)
Website www.ravennamosaici.it
Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is located in Italy

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
Location of Mausoleum of Galla Placidia

The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia is a Roman building in Ravenna, Italy. It was listed with seven other structures in Ravenna in the World Heritage List in 1996.[1] The UNESCO experts describe it as “the earliest and best preserved of all mosaic monuments, and at the same time one of the most artistically perfect”.

History

Interior view, showing the southern lunette.

Ceiling

The building was formerly the oratory of the Church of the Holy Cross and now contains three sarcophagi. The largest sarcophagus was thought to contain the remains of Galla Placidia (died 450), daughter of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. Her embalmed body was reportedly deposited there in a sitting position, clothed with the imperial mantle. In 1577, however, the contents of the sarcophagus were accidentally burned. The sarcophagus to the right is attributed to Galla’s son, Emperor Valentinian III, or to her brother, Emperor Honorius. The one on the left is attributed to her husband, Emperor Constantius III.

The building is not currently used as a mausoleum. It is unknown what the building was intended for when it was built. The most common story is that the structure was built by Galla Placidia, who was a well-known patron of the arts, to be used as a mausoleum for her and her family. There seems to be no evidence to prove or disprove Galla’s connection to the building. The mausoleum was once connected to the narthex of Santa Croce, the church for the imperial palace, built in 417 but now in ruins. Santa Croce was one of the first buildings commissioned by Galla. The floor has been raised by five feet since the fifth century in order to remain above the rising water along the upper Adriatic coast.

Architecture and interior art

Ceiling mosaic Garden of Eden.

Mosaics cover the walls of the vault, the lunettes and the cupola. The iconographic themes developed in the decorations represent the victory of eternal life over death. The mausoleum is laid out in a cruciform floor plan, with a central dome on pendentives and barrel vaults over the four transepts. The exterior of the dome is enclosed in a square tower that rises above the gabled lateral wings. The brick surface is set with narrow mortar joints and decorated with blind arcades.

The interior of the mausoleum is covered with rich Byzantine mosaics, and light enters through alabaster window panels. The inside contains two famous mosaic lunettes, and the rest of the interior is filled with mosaics of Christian and Apocalyptic symbols. The central bay’s upper walls are decorated with four pairs of apostles, including St. Peter and St. Paul, acclaiming a giant gold cross in the center of the dome against a blue sky of stars. Symbols of the four evangelists float among the clouds. The other four apostles appear in the barrel vaults of the transepts.

The lunette over the north entrance shows a mosaic of Christ as the Good Shepherd tending his flocks. He holds an imperial staff joined to the Christian cross, symbolizing the combined earthly and heavenly domains. The lunette over the south wall is thought to depict St. Lawrence standing next to a flaming gridiron. On the opposite side of the gridiron a bookcase is shown with four books, each inscribed with the name of an evangelist.

The art historian Gillian Mackie argues that this panel represents the Spanish St. Vincent of Saragossa rather than the Italian St. Lawrence.[2] Mackie cites Galla’s connection to Spain; in addition, St. Vincent was martyred by drowning at sea, and Galla and her children had been delivered from shipwreck. The panel seems to be an illustration of the poem about St. Vincent in Prudentius’s fifth century Passio Sancti Vincent Martyris. In the poem St. Vincent is ordered to disclose his sacred books to be burned. This explains the cupboard containing the Gospels, which has no satisfactory explanation in the story of St. Lawrence.

Good Shepherd Mosaic

The Lunette of Christ as Good Shepherd over the north entrance is representative of Christian art at this time period in late antiquity. Christ is being depicted as more regal than prior depictions of him as good shepherd. Rather than carrying a lamb over his shoulder, Jesus sits amongst his flock, haloed and robed in gold and purple. The mosaic represents a transition period between the naturalistic depictions of the classical period in art history and the stylized representations of the medieval period. The forms still have three-dimensional bulk, but the shading such as in the folds of the robes is less refined than in the past, and figures are not very grounded. Elements of realism have been sacrificed for a focus on the spiritual elements

Musical associations

External video
LawrenceRavenna.jpg
The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Smarthistory[3]

The mausoleum is reputed to have inspired American songwriter Cole Porter to compose “Night and Day” while on a 1920s visit.[4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mausoleum_of_Galla_Placidia?uselang=fr

http://www.giacobbegiusti.com