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Archive for April, 2012

01 Apr

Battistero Degli Ariani, Ravenna, Italy

Arian Cathedral Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani  Exterior Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani Entrance Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani Apostle Mosaic Detail Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani Cupola Mosaic Detail Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani Cupola Mosaic Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani Window Apostles Mosaic Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani Plain Interior Windows Ravenna Italy

Battistero Degli Ariani Sign Ravenna Italy

(as per sign)

Battistero Degli Ariani, Ravenna, Italy

This baptistery, built by Theodoric (493-526) next to the Arian Cathedral, was reconsecrated in the Orthodox cult (561): it thus became an oratory dedicated to the Virgin. During the Exarchate, the monks of St. Basil were settled in a house alongside it and by virtue of this it acquired the name of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, for the beauty and opulence of its interior. In the second half of the 17th century, the west-facing side was built onto with the addition of a building referred to as The Oratory of the Cross, of which the ex-baptistery became the apse, thus altogether effacing its original physiognomy for many centuries. Once it had passed into private hands, acquired by a family in the 19th century, it was purchased by the State in 1914 and, since then, thanks to numerous restoration works undertaken by the Commission of Monuments for Ravenna, efforts have been made to restore it to its pristine dignity. The Baptistery, situated to the south-west of the Arian Cathedral but not in line with it, stands as a small, brick building of octagonal plan. We are unable to admire the building its original proportions insofar as it has sunk by some 2.31 m into the ground. The building, outwardly, is divided into two by a cornice: in the upper part, finished with a brick cupola, each side is opened by a semi-circular arched window; in the lower half, the four apses. Originally, the Baptistery would have had a more articulated architecture, in that there was an anular corridor running around it. Within, the building presents only bare brickwork without plaster, marble or mosaic. Only the dome retains its mosaic decoration which was evidently inspired by the motifs of the Neonian Baptistry. These mosaics display however a much simpler composition: in the Neonian the decoration is in two wide fascia round a central disk with the Baptism scene, whereas here, probably due to insufficient space, the central medallion is enclosed by only one concentric band. In the center, Christ stands up to his waist in the transparent water of the river Jordan, whit a sober old man and Saint John the Baptists: the composition is fairly well balanced and the figures are rendered with a rather crude design which is further stressed by the use of dark contour lines. The large band surrounding the central medallion is occupied by the twelve Apostles divided, here too, into two groups: one group is led by St. Peter holding the keys, the other by St. Paul with two rolled scrolls in his hands. St. Peter and St. Paul are approaching a sumptuous throne, on which lies a large purple cushion supporting a jeweled cross. Thanks to technical-scientific researches carried out on the mosaic it was possible to ascertain that the central medallion with the Baptism scene, the throne, the figures of St. Peter, St. Paul and the Apostles following him, date back to the age of Theodoric (493-526), whereas the remaining images are probably executed in the mid-6th century and show a different style as well as the use of different materials. No other city in the world with remains from late antiquity has managed to preserve a baptistery dedicated to the Arian cult with wall decorations.

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