Eastern dome with depiction of the Anastasis

MS.BZ.019-BF.F.1993.F2810
Eastern dome with depiction of the Anastasis

Graphite on transparent paper
54.13 cm x 50.01 cm (21 5/16 in. x 19 11/16 in.)

The eastern dome of the church contained the scene of the Anastasis, or Resurrection, an episode that the Byzantine tradition develops into the iconographic theme of Christ’s descent into hell. The two main texts do not mention this scene, so the scholars’ reconstruction is inspired by Byzantine pictorial examples.

The image depicts Christ raising up the souls of the righteous from hell. Represented on either side of him are the open tombs, from which he prepares to lift the souls of Adam, Eve, and the kings and prophets of the Old Testament; and he treads on the personified Hades, while the shattered gates of hell, keys, bolts, and broken chains are scattered around the cavern of the underworld. While most of the features are reconstructed according to the canonical Byzantine repertoire, some details found on this dome are fine elaborations of the scholarly imagination: this is the case for the lengthy series of souls of kings, which seems to echo the function of the Holy Apostles as an imperial burial place.

 

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