The Mandylion icon of the monastery of San Bartolomeo degli Armeni in Genoa is encased within two bejewelled frames of various dating (1601, 1702), and a Palaiologan filigree and enamelled repoussé frame lined with a delicate Byzantine silk (plates 1-3). The Palaiologan frame circumscribes a three-pointed, dark face of Christ painted on wood, having on the verso a painted red cross. The object reveals an irresistible capacity to engage the viewer in an intense visual, tactile, even olfactory appreciation, which could function as an effective prelude to an intimate spiritual experience (cf. Pentcheva 2010, 1ff.). The most attractive part of the icon-relic is, undoubtedly, the Palaiologan frame with ten narrative plaques recalling the early story of the Mandylion until its arrival in Constantinople in 944 (plate 4). This frame displays technical features that are – as far as is known – unique in the history of enamelling, i.e. multicoloured enamel placed in minute grooves on ten gilded, chiselled and repoussé narrative plaques that measure only 42 x 42 mm ca. (plate 5). The narrative displayed by the plaques is clarified by tiny inscriptions in niello, based on various literary sources. On the present occasion, I wish to emphasise the experimentalism of this frame, that seem appropriate to the uniqueness of its central image, the Holy Face of Edessa, presented in the Christian tradition as the ‘true likeness’ of the living Christ, which needed a unique framing.

Borders of Experimentalism: Glass in the Frame of the Genoa Mandylion

DELL'ACQUA, Francesca
2013

Abstract

The Mandylion icon of the monastery of San Bartolomeo degli Armeni in Genoa is encased within two bejewelled frames of various dating (1601, 1702), and a Palaiologan filigree and enamelled repoussé frame lined with a delicate Byzantine silk (plates 1-3). The Palaiologan frame circumscribes a three-pointed, dark face of Christ painted on wood, having on the verso a painted red cross. The object reveals an irresistible capacity to engage the viewer in an intense visual, tactile, even olfactory appreciation, which could function as an effective prelude to an intimate spiritual experience (cf. Pentcheva 2010, 1ff.). The most attractive part of the icon-relic is, undoubtedly, the Palaiologan frame with ten narrative plaques recalling the early story of the Mandylion until its arrival in Constantinople in 944 (plate 4). This frame displays technical features that are – as far as is known – unique in the history of enamelling, i.e. multicoloured enamel placed in minute grooves on ten gilded, chiselled and repoussé narrative plaques that measure only 42 x 42 mm ca. (plate 5). The narrative displayed by the plaques is clarified by tiny inscriptions in niello, based on various literary sources. On the present occasion, I wish to emphasise the experimentalism of this frame, that seem appropriate to the uniqueness of its central image, the Holy Face of Edessa, presented in the Christian tradition as the ‘true likeness’ of the living Christ, which needed a unique framing.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/3970403
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