Internationale Tagung „Neue Forschungen zur spätbyzantinischen
Goldschmiedekunst (13.-15. Jahrhundert)“
International Conference ‘New Research on Late Byzantine Goldsmiths’ Works
29-30 October 2015, Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz
Abstracts of Papers
Late Byzantine Jewellery From Thessaloniki and Its Region: the Finds from Ippodromiou Street 1
In this paper the jewels from a late Byzantine to early Ottoman period cemetery will be presented. They were unearthed during the salvage excavations conducted at the south eastern part of Thessaloniki at Ippodromiou Street 1. This is the plot where the post-Byzantine St Constantine and Helen’s Church stood that was rebuilt in 1972. On the site 32 cist graves were unearthed with dozens of glazed clay bowls and glass vessels in and around them, dating the use of the cemetery to the Palaeologan and early Ottoman periods. The finds comprise several types of bronze and silver earrings, some of them embellished with pearls; some cast bronze crosses and plain bronze rings; a pair of bronze bracelets; one silver-plated bronze belt buckle; many bronze buttons, and a peculiar find of an embroidered vestment, adorned with hundreds of glass beads, which might present a later intrusion into the cemetery’s layer. Furthermore, more late Byzantine jewellery finds from other cemeteries of Thessaloniki and its hinterland will conclude this paper.
This material allows to draw the following conclusions about the jewellery found in late Byzantine cemeteries of Thessaloniki and its hinterland: in graves dated to the Palaeologan period with the help of pottery finds (probably 13th c.), middle Byzantine jewels are occasionally found, heirlooms, or venerated objects like stone crosses and amulets. Pearls re-appear for the first time after late Antiquity among extant finds. A few examples of glass gems or cut pieces of coloured glass are used as insets in earrings. The majority of the jewels were made of base metals, copper alloys and silver of low purity, while golden objects are almost non-existent. Glass continues to be used as a substitute for semiprecious stones, quite rare anyway, while bone and stones are used for the production of certain artefacts such as crosses, pendants or special types of rings.
Archers’ Rings: Eastern Heritage in the Byzantine Milieu of the Late Medieval Balkans
Characteristic thumb rings have a long history, but also differing meanings for the various peoples who have used them. For nomadic horsemen these were just utilitarian objects; their shape and material (mainly bone) was adapted to protect the thumb from the strong friction which occurs when the bowstring is released. Later on, during the Middle Ages, such rings were made of soft materials, particularly silver and bronze, and decorated with various motifs, thus becoming items carrying certain messages. The Balkan finds are decorated with a combination of an Eastern style and the artistic expression of the Mediterranean workshop circle. On the other hand, this type of ring is clearly represented in frescoes as one of the status symbols of the Late Medieval nobility.
Nicht alles, was glänzt, ist Gold: Mittel- und spätbyzantinischer Schmuck aus der Türkei
Die Mehrzahl der Menschen in Byzanz trugen im Alltag keinen Goldschmuck und wohl auch kein anderes Edelmetall oder Edelsteine. Funde aus gesicherten Ausgrabungen in der Türkei zeigen das Spektrum an Objekten auf, mit denen sich Frauen, Kinder und in geringerer Zahl auch Männer verschönerten. Der Alltagsschmuck des 11. bis 14. Jahrhunderts wurde aus Bronze, Eisen, Halbedelsteinen, Steatit, Perlmutt, Muscheln, Schnecken, Bein sowie Glas gefertigt. Die Bandbreite an Schmuckgegenständen reicht von Ohrringen, Perlenketten, Halsketten mit verschiedenen Anhängern, Armbändern und –reife, Fingerringen, Fibeln bzw. Broschen, Kleiderapplikationen und Gürteln. Einfache Schmuckformen wie Drahtohrringe oder Glasarmreife lassen sich weder chronologisch noch in ihrer Provenienz eingrenzen. Auch sonst sind von Thrakien (Perinthos) und Konstantinopel, der Westküste (Assos, Pergamon, Iasos, Ephesos, Anaia), Inneranatolien (Amorium und Boğazköy) bis in den Süden (Yumuktepe) und Südosten (Zeytinli Bahçe, Gritille) sowohl bei der Ausgestaltung als auch bei einzelnen Zierelementen gleiche Modeerscheinungen zu beobachten. Gussformen zeigen aber an vielen Siedlungen eine lokale Herstellung von Schmuck auf.
Anhand geschlossener Grabkontexte kann die Varianz und Kombination des Schmucks sowie die Trageweise rekonstruiert werden. Die Mehrzahl der Bestattungen in den verschiedenen Siedlungen trugen nur Ohrringe oder Glasarmringe, häufig war auch eine Kombination von beiden zu sehen. In jedem der untersuchten Friedhof gab es einige Gräber, die mit Armbändern, Finger- und Ohrringen, Ketten oder Knöpfen reicher ausgestattet war. Der Schmuck aus diesen Gräbern war dann auch aufwendiger gestaltet und zeigt eine größere Vielfalt an Formen und Ausführung.
Cultural Transfer Between Byzantium, Russia, Sicily and the Islamic World: The Trier Casket and Its Ornaments Reconsidered
The Treasury of Trier Cathedral owns a peculiar and unique object, formerly known as the ‘Casket of Saint Helen’. This large, massive casket with its pyramidal lid is made of gilt silver and is decorated with filigree and granulation as well as chiselled decoration. One of its many unusual features is that the underside – usually not visible – is also covered in finely executed decoration with an intricate design which betrays inspiration from Islamic art.
The casket’s origin and date are uncertain, and there is no information in the inventory on its provenance. The suggestions made in the literature range from the 12th to the 15th centuries and from Byzantium to Southern Russia or Moscow. The aim of this paper is to reconsider this exceptional piece of art and present arguments for a more precise attribution and date in the 13th or early 14th century based mainly on its ornamentation.
Displaying an Icon: The Mosaic Icon of Saint Demetrios at Sassoferrato and Its Frame
Among the reliquaries given by the humanist Nicolò Perrotti (1430–1480) as a gift to his hometown of Sassoferrato was the splendid mosaic icon of St Demetrios with its sumptuous metal frame, which has received some interest in recent years. Anthony Cutler proposed that the icon was commissioned by Perrotti himself, the image on the shield of the Saint being the coat of arms used by the humanist between 1449 and 1460. This assumption is wrong since Perroti’s coat of arms does not bear any resemblance to the one depicted here. Furthermore, it seems unrealistic that the frame of the icon would have been commissioned by Perrotti, as suggested by Jannic Durand.
On the contrary, it can be proven that icon and frame are integral parts of a Byzantine work of art and veneration, produced in 14th-century Thessaloniki. The wooden panel used for the icon has been dated by C14 analysis to 1279 ± 26 AD. This matches perfectly with the accepted stylistic dating of the mosaic icon to the early fourteenth century. The most interesting part, however, is the frame. We owe our knowledge of its original appearance to a photograph taken before 1894, the year in which the object was stolen and partly damaged. This frame incorporates at the top a lead ampulla of a type well known from late Byzantine Thessaloniki, depicting St Demetrios and St Theodora, which originally contained the holy myrrh from the graves of these saints who were venerated in Thessaloniki. The inscription on the silver frame, now lost, which concealed the ampulla did exactly name this: ΤO AΓION MYPON. The centre of the lower panel of the frame was originally adorned by a Byzantine cameo with the half bust image of a saint holding a cross, probably St Demetrios again. Two elements raise the status of this icon with its frame and transform it into a virtual reliquary of the Saint: not only is the Saint himself present twice in different pictorial ways, but also in the form of relics from his grave, the myron. Being one of the few cases of an icon used as a reliquary – not a Byzantine perception at all – the icon from Sassoferrato remains unique among all Byzantine icons.
The enigmatic inscription on the right panel of the frame, referring to an emperor named Justinian, provides an historical background to this work of art. It was commissioned during a period of increasing threat to the city of Thessaloniki. The inscription, as has been seen by A. Vasiliev, alludes to the victory of Justinian II against the Slavs and his triumphal entrance into the city in 688. In the inscription, the emperor invokes the saint as protector. The second inscription on the now lost left panel describes the function of the incorporated ampulla with the holy myrrh of the saint.
The icon is thus clearly connected to St Demetrios, the protector of the city of Thessaloniki. Examining the other heraldic devices on the frame, I will propose a person as donor of the icon and its frame who was particularly connected to St Demetrios: Demetrios Palaiologos (1306–1343?), son of Andronikos II. Palaiologos and Irene-Yolanda of Montferrat, despote of Thessalonike 1322–1328 (?).
Late Byzantine Enamel: A Period of Transition
My paper will centre round two little-known works that incorporate late Byzantine enamels. One is a mitre that was made in the 1460s for the bishop of the diocese of Linköping in eastern Sweden; it incorporated 116 plaques of Byzantine enamel that I maintain were originally made for the mitre of a bishop appointed immediately after 1204 to be one of six Catholic bishops in the newly established patriarchate of Constantinople. These plaques will be examined to see what they can tell us about the making of enamels by Greek artists who remained in the city after the emperor and his court left for Nicaea.
The other work that I will present is a fine enamelled cross in the monastery of St Catherine on Mount Sinai. I will present evidence that this was made in Cyprus by a Greek workshop in the 14th century and was part of a late Byzantine production of works in enamel. It represents, in this way, what could be seen as an artistic development that was both provincial as well as in transition.
Westliche sakrale Goldschmiedekunst des Mittelalters und ihre Rezeption im spätbyzantinischen Kulturraum
In der Zeit des 13.-15. Jahrhunderts kann man in der byzantinischen Kunst vielfältige neue Einflüsse beobachten, sowohl aus dem Westen im Nachklang der Kreuzzüge, aber auch aus Russland und den Islamischen Reichen. In diesem Vortrag wird anhand von Fallbeispielen die Rezeption der westlichen Goldschmiedekunst thematisiert – diese erfolgte in unterschiedlicher Abstufung: Die unmittelbarste Form ist der Bezug westlicher Importstücke und deren Verwendung in der Liturgie und als Reliquiare. Hinzu kommen Objekte, die nur partiell westliche Gestaltungselemente aufweisen, die offenbar als Importstücke adaptiert wurden – oder westliche Ornamentformen nachbilden wie die in der Mitte des 14. Jahrhunderts gefertigte Staurothek des Kardinals Bessarion (Venedig, Accademia). Daneben stehen Goldschmiedearbeiten, die zwar einen rein byzantinischen Formenschatz aufweisen, deren Herstellungstechniken wie etwa das transluzide Email jedoch aus dem lateinischen Westen übernommen wurden. Aber auch westliche Gestaltungstypen wurden rezipiert, übernommen und den eigenen Form- und Dekorationsvorstellungen angepasst, so der Kelch des Manuel Kantakouzenos (reg. 1349–1380) im Kloster Watopedi, dessen Vorbilder in Venedig zu finden sind, der diese jedoch in die eigene spätbyzantinische Formensprache umsetzt. Dasselbe gilt für den westlichen Typus der Armreliquiare, der etwa beim Armreliquiar der hl. Anna, heute in Neapel, von einem byzantinischen Goldschmied adaptiert wurde. Auch bei der Anfertigung von Schmuckstücken orientierten sich die örtlichen Goldschmiede an den neuartigen, über die lateinischen Eliten wie auch über Handelsverbindungen eingeführten Schöpfungen ihrer westeuropäischen Kollegen.
The Chalcis Treasure from Euboea, Greece
Chalcis, known at the Late Medieval Period as Negroponte, was an international port of call, where insecurity and war coexisted with trade, riches, cultural exchanges and personal adventures. The city was under Frankish and Venetian Rule for some 270 years ending with the Ottoman conquest of 1470. An important hoard of jewelry and dress accessories is usually attributed to the events just before the city’s fall.
The jewelry consists of rings, both decorative and personal (i.e. bearing the mark of their owner), and earrings. A large number of metal objects (buckles, strap-ends, strap-slides, mounts) belonged to belts whose exact number and form is a matter of further research. The hoard comprises some 340 buttons, all silver or silver gilt, belonging to various groupings, distinguished by their technique and craftsmanship. The use of a handful of other dress accessories cannot be identified with certainty. Finally, a large silver plate can be attributed, based on its marks, to a Neapolitan workshop of the early 15th century.
Following a presentation of the various categories included in the Chalcis Treasure, the paper explores the available bodies of evidence (archival, artistic, historic, etc.). Finally, it poses questions relating to the context, the conditions and the functions these objects were destined to serve and the socioeconomic reality to which they were integrated.
Gold, Goldsmiths and Goldsmithing in Byzantine Sources
The vocabulary of Byzantine Greek is rich in compounds of χρυσο-, many of them first attested in the middle and late Byzantine periods. This coincides with the manifold use of gold and silver gilt for Byzantine works of art in these centuries. Constantinople and the imperial court, especially, seem to have been an Eldorado of gold display. Late Byzantine recipes also inform us about the fabrication of gold ink (χρυσογραμμία), which was used for specific portions of manuscripts. Goldsmiths (χρυσοτέχναι, χρυσοτεχνῖται) and terms for goldsmithing (e.g. χρυσοχοΐα) are attested in Byzantine texts as well, and it is the goal of my presentation to present further information on the background of goldsmiths and their goldsmithing profession.
Neue Forschungen zum Trapezunt-Kästchen und seiner Datierung
New Research on the Trapzon Casket and Its Dating
For art historians who occupy themselves with Byzantine gold- and silversmiths’ works the treasury of San Marco in Venice is truly an Eldorado. Among the treasures gathered there, visitors may examine the so-called casket of Trebizond, a gilded, richly ornamented reliquary with chased depictions of saints adorning its lid and an epigram engraved on its sides.
The Procuratoria di San Marco presents the reliquary as a Late Byzantine metalwork dating to the late 14th or 15th centuries according to common opinion. However, this dating is solely based on a hypothesis as to the provenance of the reliquary. As postulated by Frolow, the Trebizond casket may have been brought to Venice by Cardinal Bessarion (1403 to 1472), like other testimonies of Byzantine culture that the humanist is known to have donated to the Serenissima. Therefore, and especially because Cardinal Bessarion was born in Trebizond, the presumed provenience of the reliquary, a connection between the reliquary and the cardinal, is generally accepted by scholars.
Since then, this hypothetical link has been used repeatedly as an argument to date the reliquary to the Palaiologan period, although palaeographic characteristics of its epigram recently gave rise to doubts about this dating.
Therefore, it is necessary to do a precise stylistic analysis to reach an art-historical classification of the Trebizond casket for the first time. Based on these new results, existing theories about the context of the creation and use of the reliquary will be discussed and new considerations made.
Representations of Jewellery and Accessories in the Late Byzantine Murals of Crete
Under archaeological aspects Crete is often associated with the ancient palace of Knossos. However, until today relatively little attention has been paid to the nearly 1000 late Byzantine churches, which were mostly founded under the Venetian rule from 1211 to 1669.
This lecture deals with Representations of Jewellery and Accessories in the Late Byzantine Murals of Crete. The first main emphasis lies on representations, which can be distinguished between the depictions of ‘real’ persons – for example donors – and depictions of saints, as well as narrative scenes. This distinction is necessary because it is very probable, that jewellery in donor portraits is characterized by real and individual traits, whereas jewellery in narrative scenes or in depictions of saints is more a reflection of certain jewellery types and stylized variations.
To complete this little paper, the second section will focus on examples for real objects discovered in Crete.
Two Little-Known Pre-Mongolian Cloisonné Medallions in the Moscow Kremlin Armoury Collection: On the Peculiarities of Denominative Inscriptions of the Virgin in the Art of Pre-Mongolian Rus’
The Armoury collection houses two Pre-Mongolian Russian cloisonné medallions. The pieces are little known in scholarly literature. One of them is a 12th to13th-century golden medallion (4 cm in diameter) from the 1822 Ryazan’ treasure-trove (Moscow Kremlin Museums inv. МР-980). The medallion bears cloisonné depiction of the bust of the Virgin with her hands raised in front of her chest. The denominative inscription is A/M//PH/А (or ΜΑ/ΡΗΑ if read in circular direction) – ἁ(γία) Μ(α)ρ<ί>α. The form of the letters is Cyrillic. The Greek inscription has a characteristic misspelling – “η” instead of “ι”. Such a denominative inscription of the Virgin is not typical for the artworks of the East Christian world of the 12th century. It is well known that, after the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Mother of God came to be named Θεοτóκος (Θεοτóκον τὴν Μαρίαν λέγειν) or ΜΡ ΘΥ (μ(ήτη)ρ θ(εο)ῦ. This denomination became a rule after the iconoclastic period. There are three known pieces with Greek denominative inscriptions of the 6th-8th centuries in church decoration.
Taking into consideration the close relations between Muscovy and the Western world (noteworthy are 58 dynastic marriages of the Rurik dynasty’s representatives with members of European houses) before the time of the Tartar-Mongol invasion, we suppose that the maker of the Ryazan’ medallion with the Virgin may have copied a Latin inscription “SCA MARIA” from a Western artwork. The denomination “MAPIA” and the iconographic type of the Mother of God with the hands raised in front of her chest, which is often depicted on coins, seals, cameos and medals of the mid-Byzantine period, is probably linked to the composition of the Ascension of Christ, the Pentecost and the Western iconography of the Assumption and Ascension of the Virgin.
The second little-known cloisonné medallion is a 13th-century round silver gilt plaque adorned with cloisonné depiction of the Virgin Аgiosoritissa (Moscow Kremlin Museums inv 13154 охр Тк-3 СВ-915). It is one of the twelve cloisonné plaques adorning the blue satin stole of Alexis the Metropolitan (1354-1378) acquired by the Armoury Chamber in 1920 from the Patriarch’s Vestry. On the both sides of the depiction there is a carved denominative inscription ΜΡ/ФΑ - Μ(ά)ρфα. The outline of the letters is cyrillic. Most likely the maker-writer copied the Greek letters MP/ΘΥ from a sample without understanding their meaning, so he made a mistake and wrote ΜΡ/ФΑ. The closest analogue of the denominative inscription of the Virgin on the Kremlin medallion is the 12th-century denominative inscription Α/ΓΙ/A Μ/ΑΡ/ΘΑ in the Deisis scene in the apse of the Saviour Church on Nereditsa of Novgorod. The most simple and logic interpretation of the peculiarities of this inscription is the misspelling of MHP ΘΥ as ΜΑΡΘΑ and its combination with cyrillic spelling of “ΑΓΙΑ (ἁγία)”. Thus, the attempts of scholars to associate the Nereditsa depiction with donators are wrong. Remarkable are the words of St Maximus the Greek (1475 - 1556) about multiple occasions of misspelling MP ΘΥ as “Μαρθα or Μиρθу” by Russian makers due to their poor knowledge of Greek.
The two denominative inscriptions of the Mother of God on the Armoury medallions show rather close relations between Pre-Mongolian Rus’ and Western culture, as well as demonstrate poor knowledge of the Greek language by a series of Russian makers.
Late Byzantine Jewellery and Accessories from Mistra
The city of Mistra, situated close to ancient Sparta and famous for its good state of preservation, is one of the most important sites that represented the once grand Byzantine Empire exclusively during the late Byzantine period. Due to the lack of planned excavations there are only a few small finds that illustrate the city’s population.
Special circumstances preserved a complete set of silken garments in a woman’s grave in the Hagia Sophia (c. 1350, expanded 1365) and a group of silken ribbons that were possibly worn around the head. Non-organic small finds include iron shoe protectors, several buttons that visualize an important change in the attachment of clothing and a set of toggle closures. They are vital to the understanding of late Byzantine fashion, but rather unimportant examples of the goldsmith’s work.
The only jewellery finds from Mistra are without context: their exact usage can therefore only be assumed. Alongside two fragments of glass bracelets, one reconstructed ivory necklace, up till now unique for late Byzantine necklaces, is proof of personal ornamentation. Made from metal is a group of four bronze rings, apparently simple in fabrication and value, plus two types of earrings. Both are made from silver and display a certain knowledge of fine goldsmithing techniques. The so called “kidney-shaped” form, represented by a total of seven pieces, can be tied directly to the imperial family by engraved monograms of the Palaiologoi, and seems to be very popular in the late Byzantine period. It is not yet evident whether the pendants were worn in the earlobe or were part of the headgear.
The revived research on the already published small finds aims to find a possible context with the help of comparable Byzantine finds. It tries to integrate the jewellery and accessories that are usually dated hastily to the late Byzantine period into the bigger picture, which can be hopefully extended with the support of fresh finds from a secured late Byzantine context.
On the 15th-Century Pendilia (Ryasny, Temple Pendants) on the Cover of the Byzantine Mother of God Hodegetria Icon in the Moscow Kremlin Armoury Collection
Golden decorations of the late Byzantine epoch are very rare; the ones that have historically survived are truly unique. Among the latter, there are filigree pendants adorned with sea pearls surviving in the setting of the Virgin Hodegetria icon dated to the first third of the 14th century (Moscow Kremlin Museums, inv. Ж1759/1–2). The small icon (38 х 29,5) of the first third of the 14th century was a ‘private’ icon (used in private quarters) of the Great Princes at least since the 15th century. That is why the icon’s original precious setting and rich decoration of the 14th to 15th centuries have survived. The pendants to the icon’s crown supply the gap in the typology of pendants on the headdresses of Russian noble women, which come from Byzantine perpendulia. In the Russian sources they are called ryasy (related to the word resnitsa meaning “eyelash”). Golden pendants-ryasy of the Pre-Mongolian epoch are known from archaeological sources and treasure-troves, however, their typology differs from the icon pendants. The pendants-ryasy of the second half of the 13th-14th centuries have not survived. The pendants-ryasy of the 16th-17th centuries are well-known. They are met in settings of the icons of the Virgin and often include volumetric filigree plates shaped as birds – “eagle chicks” (‘orliks’). Birds as the ancient motif of ear decorations are presented on pendants attached to Byzantine icons. Analogous filigree details have been found among archaeological finds. Two pendants shaped as birds were found in the Volga region at Boulgar Ulus in the Golden Horde, two tubes – in Novgorod the Great. The archaeological context allowed dating the findings to the 14th century. However, there are no analogous pieces among artworks by Boulgar and Novgorod jewellers. The pendants must have been imported. The source of the import is unclear. In the 14th century, much jewellery decoration was imported to Boulgar from either the Orthodox Christian or Muslim worlds. There are volumetric filigree details in Russian jewellery pieces of the 13th century and Balkan decorations of the 14th century, however, fully openwork volumetric details are met only in the treasure-troves of the Golden Horde of the 14th century. Due to the singularity of all the findings and the absence of 14th century Byzantine golden decorations, the question of origins of the Moscow Kremlin pendants-ryasy remains unclear, which does not lessen their value for the history of late Byzantine goldsmithing.
Religiöse Schmuckanhänger im Westen (14./15. Jahrhundert): Kleine Medien der Andacht
Anhand exemplarischer Objekte will der Beitrag mit Reliquiaranhängern vertraut machen, deren Formen- und Funktionsvielfalt als Reliquiare, Amulette, Andachtsbilder, Gaben und Schmuckstücke eine an Gattungsfragen und -abgrenzungen orientierte Kunstgeschichte bis vor wenigen Jahren kaum interessierte. Zwar erforscht die mittelalterliche und frühneuzeitliche Kunstgeschichte seit längerem die Zusammenhänge von Blick, Andacht und Bild, beschränkt sich dabei aber auf Buch- und Tafelmalerei und Skulptur. Dass auch Produkte der Goldschmiedekunst als Medien des konzentrierten und andächtigen Blicks verstanden werden können, schien in einer unterschwellig noch wirksamen Gattungshierarchie, in der Schmuck als Kunsthandwerk einen niederen Rang einnimmt und eher stil- und sozialgeschichtlich perspektiviert wird, lange nicht vorstellbar. Ich werde Reliquiaranhänger nicht nur in dem oben benannten Funktionsspektrum vorstellen, sondern mich mit dem Aspekt der Miniaturisierung ebenso beschäftigen wie die besondere, zwischen Seh- und Tastsinn, Bild und Körper vermittelnde Attraktivität von religiösem Schmuck herausarbeiten.
Da ich keine Spezialistin für byzantinische Schatzkunst bin, werde ich in meinem Beitrag kaum eine überzeugende vergleichende Perspektive gegenüber byzantinischen Phylacterien einnehmen können. Ich würde mich aber sehr freuen, wenn dies in einer gemeinsamen Diskussion stattfinden könnte.