Скулптура Богородичине цркве у Студеници. Порекло и узори
The sculpture of the Church of the Holy Virgin of the Studenica Monastery. Origin and models
Article (Published version)
MetadataShow full item record
The Church of the Holy Virgin of the Studenica Monastery in Serbia was built by Stefan Nemanja, the progenitor of the medieval Serbian dynasty of Nemanjić, to serve as a monastery and his burial church. There are no surviving written sources on the construction of this church and it is therefore indirectly dated to the period 1183–1196. Its relief sculpture has long attracted the attention of local and international researchers. This long and interesting history of research has produced different and sometimes conflicting views on the origin and models of its sculptural decoration. A number of researchers have highlighted its ties to Italian Romanesque sculpture. The majority of local authors believed that the Romanesque sculpture of both Italy and Studenica was influenced by Byzantine art. The sculpture of Studenica has also been associated with classical art, usually in terms of style, and these similarities are presumed to have come via Byzantium as the keeper of the... traditions of classical antiquity. There is also the view that it could have been executed by Byzantine artists and that the Byzantine influence was decisive in it, although monumental architectural sculpture represented an exception in Byzantium and is attributed to external influences when it does appear. The paper analyzes some of the abovementioned views in light of more recent research results, focusing on patterns and analogies found in Romanesque art, above all that of Italian provenance. These models have been recognized as key in the research history of the sculpture of the Church of the Holy Virgin at Studenica and the paper shows that the observed ties to classical antiquity did not come via Byzantium but rather via the local Italian classical i.e. Roman heritage. The Byzantine iconographical pattern of the Enthroned Virgin with the Christ Child in her lap – a central motif in Eastern Christian iconography – was one of the main reasons to look for models of the sculpture of Studenica in Byzantium. Having appeared already in the sixth century and in the tenth-thirteenth century becoming the dominant motif in the apses of Byzantine churches and churches in its cultural sphere, this variant of the Byzantine iconographical depiction of the Virgin Hodegetria was adopted in Western European architectural and free-standing sculpture, particularly from the mid-twelfth century. Transferred via Western European sculpture, in Studenica it appears as sedes sapientiae (Seat of Wisdom), executed in high relief on the tympanum of the west portal. It expresses the fundamental Christian doctrine of Christ’s incarnation (and therefore salvation), facilitated owing to the Virgin. The inner face of the lintel and doorpost of the west portal of the Church of the Holy Virgin at Studenica shows Christ Enthroned and the College of the Apostles. Their iconographical pattern corresponds to the so-called Western variant of the composition the Mission of the Apostles, which is based on an early Christian model. Although the Apostles were a very widespread theme in Romanesque sculpture, the Mission of the Apostles appears rarely. In terms of its position, the Studenica composition is reminiscent of a scene on the south portal (Porta dei Principi) of the Cathedral of Modena (Duomo di Modena). In Studenica the Mission of the Apostles is expanded with the symbolic depiction of the Eucharist in the lunette of the north two-light window of the west portal, thereby representing the founding of the Christian church and the establishment of its main sacrament – the Eucharist. Based on written sources, the rare Romanesque compositions of the Mission of the Apostles were usually interpreted as prefigurations of important contemporaneous events, thereby blending the past and present (Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene in Vezelay, France), the secular and spiritual (San Bartolomeo in Pistoia, Italy). These interpretations are recognized as a good basis for assessing the meaning that this depiction of the Apostles might have had in its time. Based on the Vita of St. Simeon, authored by his son Stefan the First-Crowned, which describes the saint as an apostle to his fatherland, the Mission of the Apostles at Studenica can be read as a prefiguration of Nemanja’s apostolic mission among the Serbian people. Owing to his vita, this message would have been understandable both to his contemporaries and to posterity. The main decorative motifs of the sculpture of Studenica are double scrolls of vine or acanthus leaves, in which two stems interlace to form circular or oval medallions. The medallions show various animals and birds, fantastical and mythological creatures, floral motifs and a genre scene. They were done in high relief, in the form of a frieze on the doorposts, lintels and archivolts of the portals and on the frame of the sanctuary window. This motif, known as peopled or inhabited scrolls, originated in classical antiquity. In the late eleventh century it made its way into Italian Romanesque sculpture and in the twelfth century became a usual element on the portals of Romanesque churches in Emilia Romagna and Apulia. The other decorative motifs of Studenica’s relief sculpture also originate from Italian Romanesque art and most of them were adopted from the local Roman heritage. The west portal of Studenica represents an architectural amalgamation of one of the three main types of Apulian Romanesque portals, where the outer colonnettes and archivolts protrude from the church walls resting on lion sculptures, while its recessed order, like the two remaining portals, represents a distinctive characteristic of North Italian Lombardian portals. Thus, in terms of their architecture and relief decoration, the portals of Studenica represent an amalgamation of different elements, with no direct analogies, which appear in Italian Romanesque portals. In its general concept, the architectural sculpture of Studenica represents a unique and original solution, testifying to the exceptional skills and artistic achievements of their creator and suggesting that the Serbian milieu of the time had refined tastes and was remarkably well-informed.
Keywords:Студеница / архитектонска скулптура / устоличена Богородица / Мисија апостола / peopled scrolls / XII век / Србија / Studenica Monastery / architectural sculpture / enthroned Virgin and Child / sedes sapientiae / Mission of the Apostles / peopled scrolls / twelfth-century / Serbia
Source:Зограф : часопис за средњовековну уметност, 2019, 43, 89-112
- Београд : Филозофски факултет Универзитета у Београду. Институт за историју уметности