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The contributors have tried to reconstruct the mingling of two cultures, Greek and Italian, in sixteenth century Venice. This is examined through the medium of a single intricately carved wooden cross, executed by a Greek carver, with adaptations suitable to a member of the Latin church. We can identify the carver who made the cross and make some speculations about his life, and how he and his art are reflective of this hybrid culture. This type of cross seems to be for personal, rather than liturgical use, and it seems to be intended for private meditation on the Passion.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0163-0
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: May 11,2012
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 181
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0163-0
$165.00
$99.00
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This cross, dated by its box to the sixteenth century, is a product of the blending of two cultures. Venice in the mid to late 1500s was a mixture of Italian culture, intermingled with a large Greek population, thanks to the Ottoman invasions which forced many Greeks to emigrate. The cross which forms the subject of this study contains a series of tiny figured panels, each one the size of a thirty-five millimetre slide. The imagery on these panels is fairly standard Christian iconography, but where we might expect the orthodox form, for example the Anastasis, which is the imagery of Christ breaking down the gates of Hell, we have instead the western imagery of the Resurrection showing a tomb and the sleeping soldiers. There are inscriptions on some of the panels, mostly in Latin, but sometimes lapsing into transcribed Greek. The purpose made box which protects the cross is made up of reused pages of a manuscript, a law text used in the schools of Venice. By tracing the use of this text we can arrive at a location and a date for the box and by extension for the cross. By comparison with other signed examples, we can identify the carver who made the cross and make some speculations about his life, and how he and the art works which he made are reflective of this hybrid culture. The type of cross seems to be one which is developed for personal, rather than liturgical use, and the most obvious explanation seems to be that it was intended for private meditation on the Passion Story.

This cross, dated by its box to the sixteenth century, is a product of the blending of two cultures. Venice in the mid to late 1500s was a mixture of Italian culture, intermingled with a large Greek population, thanks to the Ottoman invasions which forced many Greeks to emigrate. The cross which forms the subject of this study contains a series of tiny figured panels, each one the size of a thirty-five millimetre slide. The imagery on these panels is fairly standard Christian iconography, but where we might expect the orthodox form, for example the Anastasis, which is the imagery of Christ breaking down the gates of Hell, we have instead the western imagery of the Resurrection showing a tomb and the sleeping soldiers. There are inscriptions on some of the panels, mostly in Latin, but sometimes lapsing into transcribed Greek. The purpose made box which protects the cross is made up of reused pages of a manuscript, a law text used in the schools of Venice. By tracing the use of this text we can arrive at a location and a date for the box and by extension for the cross. By comparison with other signed examples, we can identify the carver who made the cross and make some speculations about his life, and how he and the art works which he made are reflective of this hybrid culture. The type of cross seems to be one which is developed for personal, rather than liturgical use, and the most obvious explanation seems to be that it was intended for private meditation on the Passion Story.

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Contributor Biography

Sheila Campbell

Dr. Sheila Campbell is Professor emerita from the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto. She is an archaeologist, an art historian specializing in the Late Antique/Early Byzantine period and a curator. Her publications include both ancient and contemporary mosaics, mediaeval medicine, and museological topics.

Winston Black

Nerida Newbigin

Domenico Pietropaolo

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS (page 7)
  • LIST OF PLATES (page 9)
  • INTRODUCTION (page 13)
  • BYZANTIUM AND VENICEIN THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY by SHEILA CAMPBELL (page 19)
  • THE LEATHERŽ BOXFOR THE MALCOVE CROSS by SHEILA CAMPBELL (page 23)
  • THE PARCHMENT WRAPPER by WINSTON E. BLACK (page 24)
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE MALCOVE CROSS by SHEILA CAMPBELL (page 27)
  • DISCUSSION OF ICONOGRAPHY by SHEILA CAMPBELL (page 49)
  • THE CARVER GEORGIOS LASKARIS by SHEILA CAMPBELL (page 57)
  • UT POESIS SCULPTURA:POETIC AND DRAMATIC SOURCESFOR THE MALCOVE CROSS? by NERIDA NEWBIGIN (page 63)
  • THE MALCOVE CROSSAND THE PERFORMANCE OF FAITH by DOMENICO PIETROPAOLO (page 77)
  • CONCLUSIONS by SHEILA CAMPBELL (page 87)
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY (page 91)
  • PLATES (page 97)
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