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Works of art from judicial civilization

Works of art from judicial civilization

Works of art from judicial civilization

The political will to be freed from Byzantium came in the 9th century to determine the conditions for the birth of judicial institutions in Sardinia. Obviously, this phenomenon could only have important consequences on a cultural and therefore artistic level.

In particular, the arrival of Romanesque architecture in Sardinia triggers important dynamics of change in style, certainly conditioned by the desire to reconnect Sardinia to the cultural and ecclesiastical environment that attributes the role of its driving force to Rome. This led to action on the territory aimed at erasing the architectural signs of “Greek” culture through an adaptation of liturgical spaces to new needs.

An eloquent example of how this attempt to remove the Greek “cultural memory” on the island was actually declined in practice is offered to us by the presumable destruction of the impressive Middle Byzantine marble furniture, present in the cathedral-martyrium of Sulci, operated by the Vittorini of Marseille at the time of their acquisition of the cathedral.

However, it would be wrong to believe that the effects of this desire to “remove” would reach results of absolute effectiveness. The memory of the pre-existing culture persists for a long time in situations similar to that attested by the lintel of the cathedral of Santa Maria a Tratalias (1213-82), which re-proposes the anachronistic heraldic pattern of faced lions, here carved in the sandstone in flat shapes, but equally exemplary on the Sulcitan marble plutaeums.

Other and subsequent examples of this articulated dynamic between changes and persistence can be read in Victorian churches in Southern Sardinia, such as the peduccio of the basement that precedes the left apse in Santa Maria di Sibiola near Serdiana (1120-30) and the marble slab with “Greek” decoration walled up in the main façade of San Platano di Villaspeciosa (about 1141). This is reused with a strong taste of antique recovery, but worked by Romanesque hands, as is the Tuscan stylistic physiognomy of the zoomorphic motif carved in the rib of the left monophore on the same façade.

This dynamic fluctuating between the introduction of the new and the preservation of the old is also evident in the relationship between the design of the buildings, strongly conditioned by the “imported” Romanesque contributions, and the sculptural and architectural decoration apparatus, more openly marked by a character of continuity with the past.

It therefore seems safe to say that even in Sardinia, Romanesque absorbs and reshapes the figurative heritage of the local High Middle Ages, a Byzantine brand, within a manual skill that is not always cultured,

but certainly freer and more expressive.


25/9/2023 - 17:25


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