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Altars of the Bokanić's workshops on the island of Vis

Zoraida Demori Staničić ; Restauratorski zavod Hrvtaske u Splitu

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 708 Kb

str. 34-47

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The professional activity of the Bokanić’s workshop, which during the 16th and 17th century was established in Dalmatia on the islands of Brač and Hvar, through Omiš, Trogir and Zadar, had also been recognized earlier on the island of Vis.
The most famous member of this known family of builders and stonemasons was Trifun Bokanić, whom the Trogir’s historian Pavao Andreis, pointed out as early as the 17th century, as the builder of the top floor of the Trogir bell tower. In Zadar, together with his father Jerko, Trifun built the altars in the Benedictine church of Saint Francis and Saint Mary (from 1841, in Nin), while in Hvar, he built the town loggia and the altar of Our Lady of Karmen in the cathedral (the altar was transported to the parish church in Brusje in 1750). Even after Trifun’s death in 1609, the members of this large and widespread family of stonemasons from Pučišća on the island of Brač, take part in building and ornamenting many of the secular and sacral buildings on Dalmatian islands and its mainland. For a long period of time, the island of Hvar was the main center of their professional activity.
After the devastation by Algerian pirates in 1571, the whole town of Hvar, the whole island in fact, became a large building site, while the Hvar Cathedral, on which many craftsmen from the islands of Brač, Hvar and Korčula worked, becomes the source of widespread professional building activity in Dalmatia, where in the ascent of anti-reformation flows, many churches were built or restored. The craftsmen gathered around and “trained” on the Hvar Cathedral, played an important role in spreading a Late Renaissance and Mannerism style. While building stone altars and while participating in the construction of many private and public buildings, they were passing on and spreading new styles. On this occasion, one more stone altar on the island of Vis is attributed to the Bokanić’s workshop. The main altar, dedicated to the Madonna, is situated in the church of the Madonna of the Pirates, in its central and oldest part of the subsequently expanded church. The stone altar has a painted triptych with an attic showing the Madonna with Child and Saint Catherine of Sienna, flanked by side fields with saint Rocco and Saint Anthony the Abbot, and surmounted by the figure of God, Our Father. The altar is situated in a shallow apsidal niche of the central nave over which is a pointed vault. It is made of white limestone, polychromised and gold plated. It is of the architectural type: its columns and semi-columns carry the triangular gable framing the gold plated relief frame made of stone, in which there is a Renaissance painting. The emphases and the division of architectural elements of the altar, point to Renaissance characteristics. The traditional tripartite relation in the vertical compositions, stylobate, columns, and tripartite beams, still copies characteristics of antiquity. The choice of the ornamental motifs from the architectural (small consoles, cogs, astragal and ovulo moldings) to plant motifs (leafs, strings, rosettes, vines), surely points to the cinquecento style. However, the flat ornament “caught” the altar; still, there were no forms of the Baroque ornaments (cartilages, cartouches). The basic features of visual artistic relations of altars are characterized by steady and well balanced architectural parts, as well as in the proportionality (compatibility) of a structure and an ornament. Polychromy, and especially gilt, gave liveliness to the unity of the altar with a painting in relation to the natural color of the stone. The altar of the Madonna of the Pirates church bears recognizable characteristics of the Bokanić’s style (channelled columns, leafy ornaments, composite capitals), although some of the morphological elements are different when compared to altars Trifun made in Nin and Brusje. The altar of the Madonna of the Pirates church is for the first time mentioned in documents in 1625. The documents speak about the apostle visit of the Zadar archbishop Ottaviano Garzadori. In the bishop visit of the Madonna of the Pirates church in 1627, which instead of the Hvar bishop Petar Cedulin, was made by his apostle vicar, otherwise the canon from Chioggia, Pietro Morari, he found the church to be extended and remade. It can be concluded that the altar of the Madonna of the Pirates church could be made some time between years 1603 and 1625, when it was for the first time listed as altare lapideum. It is obvious that the Bokanićs were actively working in Komiža during the first decades of the 16th century when they worked for the island of Hvar, and at the time, the island of Vis was a constituent part of the Hvar commune. Besides the altars, their professional activity can be also noticed on many architectural elements on churches in Komiža. A part of the arch made in Bokanić’s style and decorated with angels’ heads made in relief, was preserved in the yard of the complex of former Benedictine Abbey in Komiža that became the Church of Saint Nicholas. There is a big baptizing well (approximately 2m high), made in the Bokanićs’ style with a pyramid and a balustrade on top, in the sacristy of the Baroque church of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Komiža. This monumental statuary carved part of the church set up requires special professional and scientific analysis. The wall tabernacle with brass door frames decorated with angels’ heads is in the same sacristy. It is identical to the consoles of the wall niches in Muster. Both, the well and the tabernacle, according to their dimensions, had to belong to the equipment of the Church of Saint Nicholas. Later on, during the “Baroqueisation” of the interiors, they were moved to the church of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. We can also assume that the Bokanić’s did the complex constructional and stonemason jobs of expanding the churches of the Madonna of the Pirates and the church of Saint Nicholas. At the beginning of the 17th century, former modest buildings with a single nave were rebuilt into complex churches with three naves. Both churches, the Madonna of the Pirates with its present three, joined facades and the monumental Muster, or the church of Saint Nicholas, were expanded between the years of 1603, when the visitor Priuli still describes them as buildings with a single nave, and 1627 when Pietro Morari describes them as already extended. The extension made with making arches in side walls, adding side naves and reshaping of the façade, have a recognizable profile of the workshop, with the insertion of the characteristic centralstone decorated with woman’s head.

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