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by:Heng Xing     2020-08-20

Navicella means 'little ship' referring to the massive boat which dominated the scene, and whose sail, filled by the storm, loomed over the horizon. Such a pure illustration of a seascape was identified only from historic artistic endeavors. In the troubled years of the 15th century the fatally weakened empire could not afford luxurious mosaics. Churches were decorated with wall-paintings on this period and after the Turkish conquest.

The Cathedral of Palermo, rebuilt by Archbishop Walter in the identical time (1172–85), was also decorated with mosaics however none of those survived besides the 12th-century picture of Madonna del Tocco above the western portal. The heyday of mosaic making in Sicily was the age of the independent Norman kingdom in the twelfth century. The Norman kings adopted the Byzantine tradition of mosaic ornament to boost the considerably dubious legality of their rule.

The great Navicella mosaic (1305–1313) within the atrium of the Old St. Peter's is attributed to Giotto di Bondone. The large mosaic, commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi, was originally situated on the eastern porch of the old basilica and occupied the whole wall above the entrance arcade dealing with the courtyard. This extraordinary work was mainly destroyed through the construction of the brand new St. Peter's in the 17th century.

The cathedral of Messina, consecrated in 1197, was also decorated with an excellent mosaic cycle, initially on par with Cefalù and Monreale, but heavily broken and restored many occasions later. In the left apse of the identical cathedral 14th-century mosaics survived, representing the Madonna and Child between Saints Agata and Lucy, the Archangels Gabriel and Michael and Queens Eleonora and Elisabetta.

Only fragments survived from the unique mosaic ornament of Amalfi's Norman Cathedral. The mosaic ambos in the church buildings of Ravello show that mosaic art was widespread in Southern Italy through the eleventh–13th centuries.

The final Byzantine mosaic work was created for the Hagia Sophia, Constantinople in the middle of the 14th century. The great jap arch of the cathedral collapsed in 1346, bringing down the third of the main dome. By 1355 not only the big Pantokrator image was restored but new mosaics had been set on the jap arch depicting the Theotokos, the Baptist and Emperor John V Palaiologos (discovered only in 1989). The greatest mosaic work of the Palaeologan renaissance in art is the decoration of the Chora Church in Constantinople. Although the mosaics of the naos have not survived except three panels, the ornament of the exonarthex and the esonarthex represent an important full-scale mosaic cycle in Constantinople after the Hagia Sophia.

Greek masters working in Sicily developed their own style, that reveals the affect of Western European and Islamic artistic tendencies. Best examples of Sicilian mosaic art are the Cappella Palatina of Roger II, the Martorana church in Palermo and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale.

They were executed round 1320 by the command of Theodore Metochites. The esonarthex has two fluted domes, specifically created to supply the perfect setting for the mosaic images of the ancestors of Christ.

The secular mosaics are seemingly extra Eastern in character than the great non secular cycles and show a robust Persian influence. The most notable examples are the Sala di Ruggero within the Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo and the Sala della Fontana within the Zisa summer palace, each from the twelfth century. Southern Italy was also a part of the Norman kingdom however great mosaics did not survive in this space besides the fine mosaic pavement of the Otranto Cathedral from 1166, with mosaics tied into a tree of life, largely nonetheless preserved. The scenes depict biblical characters, warrior kings, medieval beasts, allegories of the months and working exercise.

When the church was demolished within the 19th century, the mosaic was purchased by Frederick William IV of Prussia. It was reassembled within the Friedenskirche of Potsdam within the 1840s. The palaces of the Norman kings were adorned with mosaics depicting animals and landscapes.
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