Built at the turn of the fifth century and embellished with a new decoration under bishop Neon (c. 450-468), the Baptistery of the Cathedral is one of the most studied buildings of late antique Ravenna. Nevertheless, its lower mosaic frieze has been often overlooked in scholarly literature. This is perhaps due to the fact that the lower zone of the building shows a dominant aniconic decoration. This paper will centre precisely on the so-called aniconic decoration and on non-figurative images included in the mosaic programme. Through an analysis of forms and motifs that have often been considered only mere fillers for empty spaces, this paper will clarify the cultural environment in which the decoration of the baptistery originated. Even details apparently with a purely ornamental function and without meaning will reveal to be instrumental clues for determining the dialectic of power and faith visually expressed in the mosaic programme. These are in fact linked to the cultural tradition of the Mediterranean and are evidence of the interaction of the learned patron of the baptistery, bishop Neon, with the élites of the empire.

Forms and ideas in the fifth-century Mediterranean: Bishop Neon and his mosaics in Ravenna

Maria Cristina Carile
2019

Abstract

Built at the turn of the fifth century and embellished with a new decoration under bishop Neon (c. 450-468), the Baptistery of the Cathedral is one of the most studied buildings of late antique Ravenna. Nevertheless, its lower mosaic frieze has been often overlooked in scholarly literature. This is perhaps due to the fact that the lower zone of the building shows a dominant aniconic decoration. This paper will centre precisely on the so-called aniconic decoration and on non-figurative images included in the mosaic programme. Through an analysis of forms and motifs that have often been considered only mere fillers for empty spaces, this paper will clarify the cultural environment in which the decoration of the baptistery originated. Even details apparently with a purely ornamental function and without meaning will reveal to be instrumental clues for determining the dialectic of power and faith visually expressed in the mosaic programme. These are in fact linked to the cultural tradition of the Mediterranean and are evidence of the interaction of the learned patron of the baptistery, bishop Neon, with the élites of the empire.
Studi sulla circolazione del mosaico in area nord-adriatica
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Maria Cristina Carile,
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/729890
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