Die Ausmalungen der Wiener Virgilkapelle : die visuelle Kultur in Byzanz, im Kaukasus, in Syrien und Nordmesopotamien

Variant title
The wall paintings in Vienna's Chapel of St. Virgil : the visual culture of Byzantium, the Caucasus, Syria, and Northern Mesopotamia
Nástěnné malby ve vídeňské kapli svatého Virgila : vizuální kultura Byzantské říše, Kavkazu, Sýrie a severní Mezopotámie
Source document: Convivium. 2020, vol. 7, iss. 2, pp. 36-57
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
Rights access
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This case study of the aniconic wall paintings – red-colored, monumental crosses from the mid-thirteenth century – in Vienna's subterranean Chapel of St. Virgil demonstrates that, in the absence of written sources, artifacts can serve as historical documents. The article offers an alternative approach to the quest for historical context, exploring transcultural, cross-media, and diachronic visual comparisons. Since late antiquity, cross decorations with surrounding zigzag patterns were common in Syria, Northern Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Georgia. Formal parallels survive on the facade of the Armenian basilica of Ereruk and among the many red-colored paintings in the cave churches of Cappadocia. Brick ornaments with crosses in blind arches from the eleventh through the fourteenth century offer the most striking visual correspondences to St. Virgil. Compelling examples can be seen on the facades of the eleventh- and thirteenth-century churches of Nea Moni and the Panagia Sikelia on Chios and on the fourteenth-century facade of the Orhan Gazi Camii in Bursa. The paintings of the Viennese chapel are thus likely to refer to the ornate brick facades of Middle Byzantine architecture.
Summary language
  • Der Text entstand in weiten Teilen während eines Andrew W. Mellon-Stipendiums am Byzantine Studies Research Center der Boğaziçi Üniversitesi in Istanbul.