Sant'Apollinare Nuovo--page 3 (of 4 pages)

504, consecrated as a palace church

Theodoric's palace

The procession of 26 male martyrs leaves from Theodoric's palace. Originally figures were standing in the arcade, presumably members of Theodoric's court. Because this king was Arian, when Ravenna was reconquered as part of the Byzantine empire, these mosaics were altered. The masking of the original figures was not totally successful. Although curtains have replaced the bodies in the arches, still the remains of arms and hands holding the columns of the arcade are visible.

Tall figures, continuing the verticality of the columns, moving toward the altar

They are representative, not individualized, figures. The togas are all similar and the gestures are unvaried. Unlike the procession of the Apostles in the Orthodox Baptistery, where the reality of the figures is emphasized--even to their casting of realistic shadows, here the procession is symbolic, conceptual.

St Martin, for whom the church was temporarily named, leading the procession

The saints' names are labelled above them and they seem to walk in a naturalistic landscape featuring occasional flowers. However, the background of gold shimmering mosaic, rather than a blue sky, emphasizes the eternal, essential meaning rather than a local, historical, temporal narrative event.



A Byzantine Christ, flanked by angels

Unlike the Christ in the top register panels, this version is bearded, older and sterner.

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© 2006 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. They are not available for commercial purposes.