The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste Ivory Icon at the BODE Museum in Berlin is a favorite of mine for making me think, reflect and compare.
First of all, I like the story of these 40 tough Roman soldiers, devoted to their faith, suffering… in the city of Sevaste, in Armenia, during the reign of Emperor Licinius, and under the presidency of Agricolaus, in the year 320 AD. Their story is beautifully told by MATHEW in http://dignareme.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-40-martyrs-of-sebaste.html
Then, I like Byzantine Ivory Carving! What a magnificent medium in… small-scale. Byzantine Art is not only about monumental, awe-inspiring mosaics and frescoes. The aficionados of Byzantium find equal pleasure even more! in artifacts of smaller scale, like luxurious ivories, silverware, glassware, and jewelry, even humble pottery and woodwork.
I am fascinated by Ivory itself. One only has to imagine the caravans or the galleys bringing to Constantinople African elephant tasks, the anticipation of the artisans ready to put their expertise into practice, and the eagerness of the buyers as they consider one more coveted possession. During the 10th and the 11th centuries, Byzantine Ivories were popular among the City’s aristocrats and highly prized as Imperial gifts to foreign dignitaries.
Meticulously carved, ivory icons, consular diptychs, or pyxides, enchant us today with their beauty. “The allure of this substance is easily understood: its smooth, tactile quality and creamy color made it ideal for the creation of” amazing works of art, just like the Icon of the Forty Martyrs of Sevaste in the BODE Museum.
Is this amazing carving a case of Byzantine Renascence? The depiction of forty agonizing bodies, winding and twisting, reminds me of Signorelli’s fantasia of Paradise and Hell in Orvioto’s Cathedral, in the Capella of San Brizio. Are there missing links connecting these two masterpieces I don’t know about? Whatever the answer is, the BODE Ivory Icon is a strategic player in the equation. https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ivor/hd_ivor.htm and http://www.travelingintuscany.com/art/lucasignorelli/sanbriziochapel.htm
For a “Similarities and Differences” Student Activity, please… check HERE!
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