Hey guys! Hope you’re having an awesome time, eating lots of gelato, and hopefully got some great cannoli too. Just thought I’d kick off my posts, and motivate you guys to post your pics too, although I know you’re pretty busy. My group this past fall actually went to Palermo last, but I thought I might coordinate my photos as best I can with your itinerary. This is one of my pics from when we were there in October. The Monreale Cathedral is one of the most gorgeous places in Palermo in my opinion, and from a classicist’s view, also pretty cool since there’s Latin that you can read in the mosaics! (ok sort of, it’s from the medieval period so it’s harder to read and doesn’t make as much sense sometimes). It was built in the middle of the 1100’s by the Normans for their king, William the 2nd who was in charge of Sicily at that time.The mosaics themselves are clearly stunning. Interestingly enough, they were actually constructed on boards and then placed in their positions as you saw today in the cathedral, instead of being constructed piece by piece in the cathedral as a lot of mosaics were built. From an art history perspective, people and animals also demonstrate the characteristic “flatness” seen in other portraits during this time period (Decoration 1). In the cathedral itself, the scenes depicted are mostly biblical scenes from the Old and New Testament. Once you advance into the cloister though, things start to change. If you look carefully on the carved capitals of the columns (NOT Doric, but columns nonetheless!), you can see that some of them exhibit knights fighting. There’s a debate continuing between art historians as to whether these scenes depict the conflict between “vice and virtue” or the actual Crusades; personally, though, I might be more inclined to agree with art historian Lorna Walker, who suggests the knights may have merely been added from a “pattern book” of sorts in order to fill the empty stone space on the columns (Fighting 47).
< Cloister Courtyard of Monreale. Look closely, and you can see the carvings on the columns above.
Stay tuned for more-up next, Riace Bronzes!
“Decoration As Composition.” Monreale Cathedral, Sicily. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.
Fighting knights and sirens: The cloister, monreale. 1996. History Today, Feb 01, 42. https://login.ezproxy.bowdoin.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.bowdoin.edu/docview/1299032864?accountid=9681.