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A contribution to the opus of Split stonecarvers’ workshop from the late 8th century
; Odsjek za povijest umjetnosti, Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Zagreb, Hrvatska
Miljenko Jurković ; Odsjek za povijest umjetnosti, Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Zagreb, Hrvatska
APA 6th Edition
Basić, I. i Jurković, M. (2011). A contribution to the opus of Split stonecarvers’ workshop from the late 8th century. Starohrvatska prosvjeta, III (38), 184-185. Preuzeto s https://hrcak.srce.hr/81104
MLA 8th Edition
Basić, Ivan i Miljenko Jurković. "A contribution to the opus of Split stonecarvers’ workshop from the late 8th century." Starohrvatska prosvjeta, vol. III, br. 38, 2011, str. 184-185. https://hrcak.srce.hr/81104. Citirano 25.06.2022.
Chicago 17th Edition
Basić, Ivan i Miljenko Jurković. "A contribution to the opus of Split stonecarvers’ workshop from the late 8th century." Starohrvatska prosvjeta III, br. 38 (2011): 184-185. https://hrcak.srce.hr/81104
Basić, I., i Jurković, M. (2011). 'A contribution to the opus of Split stonecarvers’ workshop from the late 8th century', Starohrvatska prosvjeta, III(38), str. 184-185. Preuzeto s: https://hrcak.srce.hr/81104 (Datum pristupa: 25.06.2022.)
Basić I, Jurković M. A contribution to the opus of Split stonecarvers’ workshop from the late 8th century. Starohrvatska prosvjeta [Internet]. 2011 [pristupljeno 25.06.2022.];III(38):184-185. Dostupno na: https://hrcak.srce.hr/81104
I. Basić i M. Jurković, "A contribution to the opus of Split stonecarvers’ workshop from the late 8th century", Starohrvatska prosvjeta, vol.III, br. 38, str. 184-185, 2011. [Online]. Dostupno na: https://hrcak.srce.hr/81104. [Citirano: 25.06.2022.]
During the research and conservation work in the Cathedral of Split in 1998 and 2001, two early medieval altar screen slabs cut in marble were discovered in the pavement of the choir (Figg. 1-2). Both slabs show a double motif of a cross under an arcade that is flanked by trees of life in the lower part and rosettes in the upper part. The slabs were immediately related to similar ones in Split and its surroundings. However, those links turned out to be only generic similarities of the compositional scheme. The analysis of details of specific elements regarding carving methods shows that both slabs have no analogies in Split and its closer surroundings. Therefore, even the smallest detail becomes important in the attempt to determine the origin of the slabs, i.e. the affiliation to a certain workshop. Particularly important in this regard is the detail of the cross–rosette with bloomed arms (Fig. 4a-b). It is completely identical to one of the rosettes on a marble slab with cassettes (Fig. 3), which was assigned to the work of a local workshop from the late 8th century based on the multiplication of the motif of crossed lilies. Crossed lilies are the basic motif on the reliefs from Split, entirely subordinated to the geometrical principle. The workshop’s characteristics are excellent sculptural work, marble – as the exclusive material used – and the ability to reinterpret the adopted motif. Apart from the slab with cassettes and the sarcophagus of Archbishop John (Fig. 10), a fragment of a sarcophagus or slab that was discovered as secondary material in the Late Baroque chapel of Saint Domnius (Fig. 5b) as well as the slab that was incorporated as the side wall in the sarcophagus of the Good Shepherd in the Gothic chapel of Saint Domnius (Fig. 5a) are also assigned to this workshop. Both afore–mentioned chapels form a part of the interior of the Split Cathedral. We propose to assign the altar screen slabs that were discovered in the choir of the Split Cathedral to the same workshop. The slab with cassettes represents the link between the part of the workshop’s production that is focused on repetitive motifs placed in the cassettes and the other part with iconographic origins in the motif of the “Gates of Heaven”. This is proven by specific details such as the identical cross–rosette, the use of identical groups of motifs (cross–rosette, multi–petal and whirlpool rosette), carving details like the hook, the diamond–shaped endings of the lilies and trees (Figg. 6-7). The sculptors of the Split workshop had therefore various patterns in their repertoire and were not limited to the repeating motif with crossed lilies or its combinations with rosettes of different types. After further comparative analysis, several other sculptures were also assigned to the workshop, so that there is a total of ten works by this workshop so far. These are, apart from the afore–mentioned ones, three fragments of pilasters belonging to an altar screen (Fig. 8a-c), decorated with a tree of life emerging from a kantharos or a kantharos with interlaced pairs of pretzel motifs, as well as an altar screen arch that was found as a spolia in Kaštel Sućurac (Fig. 9). All these reliefs are connected to the Split Cathedral or its direct surrounding (the sarcophagus was intended for its affiliated Church of St. Matthew). Up to now, there are no recognizable stone sculptures by this workshop outside the immediate surroundings of Split. In discussing the chronology of the works of the Split workshop, we should in the first place emphasize that two of the motifs it uses have their origin in the North Adriatic region. These are the motif of crossed lilies and the motif of the hole surrounded by a carved circle (occhi di dado) that covers the crosses in the slabs with the representation of the “Gates of Heaven”. These decorative elements can be firmly dated to the last quarter of the 8th c., and are related to the stylistic phenomenon of the late “Liutprand Renaissance” in Friuli (Fig. 12) and its reflections in Istria. Both afore– mentioned details are found on the ciborium of Bishop Mauritius from Novigrad in Istria (Fig. 14). It was affirmed before that this ciborium was commissioned from a workshop stationed in Cividale, unlike all the other sculpture of the Novigrad Cathedral, carved at the same time. A number of sculptures belonging to the cathedral are truly superb work and show a resemblance to contemporary sculptures in Rome (Figg. 15-16). It is quite possible that the Carolingian conquest of Istria involved the sending of sculptors to this region as well, hand in hand with political, military and ecclesiastical influence. That diplomatic interest for Istria is evident in the letter written by Pope Adrian to Charlemagne concerning the destiny of Bishop Mauritius, sent to Istria by the Pope himself, but molested and persecuted by the locals. On the other hand, the possible connections of the reliefs from Split with Rome are also supported by similarities with roman sculpture from that period, for ex. a screen slab fragmentarily preserved in the Roman basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (Fig. 17). It can be linked to an early phase of its furnishing commissioned at the turn of the 9th century. Since the same compositional scheme (“Gates of Heaven”) was used on altar screen slabs done by the Trogir stonecarvers’ workshop as early as the beginning of the 9th century, it is quite possible that it was inspired by the slightly earlier but identical compositions of the Split workshop. Other compositions could bear witness to this process, too – the architraves of altar screen composed of a central epigraphic zone flanked by decorative zones, a mannerism which can be found in works of the Trogir workshop, as well as little earlier in Split. Within the scope of Pre–Romanesque sculpture on Italian soil, compositions such as these can be found – Grado and its surroundings aside – only in Rome, i.e. on reliefs that decorated the Church of St. Adrian, the Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian and the church dedicated to St. Martina, all on the Roman Forum. They were furnished with sculpture of the same characteristics all at the same time, respectively during the pontificate of Adrian I (772–795). By expanding the opus of the Split stonecarvers’ workshop we have noticed that its sculpture has quite certain roots in north–eastern Italy, possibly also in Rome. We have determined an almost identical situation in Istria as well. With regard to these facts, one should, of course, look for the protagonists of ecclesiastical and social elites who could have contributed to the realization of the works by this workshop. In search of the time and persons that would best fit the general historical context, the furnishings of the Cathedral of Saint Domnius with reliefs made by the Split stonecarvers’ workshop should be linked to the person of an Archbishop John, who attended the Council of Nicea in 787 and is since recently rightly identified with John of Ravenna, restorer of the Salonitan Church in the Diocletian’s palace. Historical circumstances indicate that this restorer of the Ecclesia Salonitana must be seen as an exponent of the Papal–Frankish Adriatic policy in the late 8th century – which to a large extent was implemented via Ravenna. The political circumstances and aspirations of the last decades of the 8th century therefore truly affected artistic creations. Sculptors that used crossed lilies and occhi di dado doubtlessly found their inspiration in north–eastern Italy, from where Carolingian political aspirations were spreading through Istria to Dalmatia. On the other hand, the use of motifs showing crosses under arcades flanked by trees of life points to papal Rome, from where the pontiff ’s aspirations to the Eastern Adriatic also derive.
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