The Starry Night : art before the era of the icon

Variant title
Hvězdná noc : umění před věkem ikony
Source document: Convivium. 2015, vol. 2, iss. 1, pp. 148-165
Extent
148-165
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Language
English
License: Not specified license
Rights access
fulltext is not accessible
Abstract(s)
The interior of a small tomb discovered in 1991 in Lycia is entirely decorated with late fourth- to early sixth-century frescoes arranged in a program of two hierarchically differentiated tiers. The lower contains two panels representing processions of the deceased (probably male) and his kin; ushered by one angel or several, the group enters an elevated sphere where Christ and saints await them. Four archangels holding staffs ascend through scintillating stars from each corner of the deep blue vaulted ceiling toward the summit. The fresco program shows two modes of epiphany: one attainable through liturgical enactment; the other through contemplation. Visio Dei was a serious concern of theologians and other intellectuals at the time. From the Cappadocian Fathers until the Pseudo-Dionysius, they find shadow and darkness as the ultimate eschatological topos. The motif of a starry night sky thus became the symbol of the mystagogical topos that expands beyond the astral sphere.
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