Early Byzantine Mosaics

The Sec­ond Com­ing when an eter­nal­ly youth­ful Christ, seat­ed on a watery globe from which pour the four rivers of Eden, hands the Mar­tyrs Crown to Saint Vitalis.

How many works of art from the Sixth Cen­tu­ry C.E. delight and inspire so much as the great mosaics of the Byzan­tine-Roman Empire? Few that I know of. So when I was able to vis­it the cities of Emil­ia-Romagna in Sep­tem­ber 2018, Raven­na was at the top of the list (OK, they were all “at the top of the list”, but Raven­na was para­mount).

How many pil­grim­ages are so well-fulfilled?

Colour­ful, abstract, con­cep­tu­al, lit­er­ary, humane… All the adjec­tives that mat­ter apply to the mosaics crowd­ed into the Apse of the Basil­i­ca of San Vitale. “Res­o­nant” is anoth­er that occurs only lat­er when it seems that the eyes of Theodo­ra or the slight­ly dis­tract­ed gaze of Christ at the Sec­ond Com­ing, or the undemon­stra­tive pow­er of the Emper­or’s pres­ence will greet  you when­ev­er your mem­o­ry turns back to your visit.

Please down­load a PDF file  (9.4 MB) of the images and be sure to view them full-screen on your com­put­er or tablet.


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