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Title: The Micromosaic of the Man of Sorrows at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome
Authors: Lansdowne, John
Advisors: Barber, Charles
Zchomelidse, Nino
Contributors: Art and Archaeology Department
Keywords: Eucharist
imago pietatis
Man of Sorrows
Mass of St. Gregory
Subjects: Art history
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation proceeds from a comprehensive study of a miniature Byzantine micromosaic icon of Christ the Man of Sorrows, made in the early fourteenth century and enshrined since ca. 1400 at the Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome. Crafted from approximately 50,000 minute pieces of glass, metal, marble, and stone, the icon is one of the most meticulous representations of the human body in medieval art. Over five chapters, the dissertation chronicles the icon’s journey between Byzantium and Italy through various Mediterranean ports-of-call: from the Greek East to the Kingdom of Naples and, eventually, to Rome, where it achieved great fame in connection with the legend of the Mass of St. Gregory. The remarkable life-story of this object presents a singular opportunity to examine the allegorical symbolism of the broken body in both Orthodox and Latin Christian religious cultures at a critical juncture in the conflict between the divided churches of East and West. Utilizing in-depth visual and epigraphic analysis, supported by conservation documentation and new research into its medium and materials, the dissertation shows how the icon’s formal qualities were strategically designed to substantiate a rich, all-encompassing metaphor concerning the sacrament of the Eucharist. Specifically, it functioned as a visual counterpart to the ritual breaking of the Eucharistic bread and served to emblematize the idea of ecumenical union: a vision of all Christians peoples united as one in an undivided church. The Santa Croce micromosaic was uniquely effective in conveying these broader theological concepts. Its myriad tesserae, fused to form an iconic image of the dead Christ, typified the tension in the Eucharist between fraction and unity, part and whole. This allegorical potential was further developed in Rome, where, installed inside an extraordinary triptych reliquary cabinet, ensconced by relics from all corners of the Christian oecumene, the icon became the centerpiece to a grand representation of the Universal Church: diverse in its parts, but unified in a cohesive, ecclesiological body. Exhibited in Santa Croce’s subterranean Jerusalem Chapel, the icon and its reliquary formed a microcosm of the church on earth at the end of the Middle Ages.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Art and Archaeology

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