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Posts tagged ‘fresco’

The Best Early Christian Tomb Frescoes (Not in Rome)

I love the early Christian catacombs of Rome.  But since you can only enter as part of a guided tour, visits feel rushed.  The frescoes in these maze-like tomb complexes reveal the first Christian images and thus the stories, priorities, and spiritual direction of the early church.  Even more importantly, here’s where artists started to lay out the visual language, or iconography, of the religion which had a huge effect on the history of Western Art.  But early Christian images aren’t all in Rome.  There is a pocket of fantastic early Christian tomb frescoes in the city of Pécs in southwestern Hungary.  It’s an incredible treasure in a very unexpected place.

Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, Early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

“Mary and Child fresco” in the Burial Chamber of Saint Peter and Paul, 4th century early Christian burial tombs, Pecs, Hungary

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The Scrovegni Chapel: My Moment with Giotto’s Masterpiece

To enter the Scrovegni Chapel, you have to spend 15 minutes in a “environmental equilibration” chamber and video introduction before passing through two air locks into the chapel.  Shockingly, visitors only get another 15 minutes to look around before being rushed out by security.  However, if you are a clever art pilgrim (like yours truly) and book multiple back-to-back tickets, the museum escort chases everyone else out but leaves you alone for a few glorious minutes within the chapel.

Standing at the altar looking down the rows of painted vignettes, the rich pastel colors glowing warmly from the morning sunlight, has got to be one of the most profoundly beautiful art experience I have ever had.  To say I loved the Scrovegni Chapel would be an understatement.

Giotto Scrovegni Chapel, Padua

Photo of Giotto’s masterpiece, the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua (Photo: Art Bouillon)

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The Byzantine Art Experience – Hosios Loukas Monastery, Greece

Secluded on Mt. Helicon in Greece, just south of Delphi, is the Monastery of Hosios Loukas (Holy Luke).  A triumph of Byzantine art and architecture, it is no surprise that this church is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Decorated with a combination of mosaics and frescoes, I made certain to stop at this church.  While its difficult to capture the feeling of being in such an amazing place, hopefully the images and music in this post will help transport you that beautiful place of marble and holy Byzantine faces.

Byzantine mosaic - Jesus Washing the Disciples Feet

Jesus Washing the Disciples Feet from the Narthex of Hosios Loukas

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Ephesus Terrace Houses

As if the ancient Roman city of Ephesus wasn’t already amazing, there is a separate museum within the site that lovers of art and history must see.  The recently excavated and partially restored Terrace Houses are located in the center of the site.  Homes of some of the wealthiest citizens were built on this valuable real estate (ie. across from the ancient public toilets!) which is evident today in the extensive mosaic floors and frescoed walls.  The artwork dates from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD with several homes torn down and combined into a small basilica during the later part of that period.  Remnants of indoor plumbing throughout the homes are also visible.

Terrace House, Ephesus Read more

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