The Art of Recycling Fresco-Icons. At the Roots of the Cult of Images.
Of the observations made during the author’s research in S. Maria Antiqua (1957-1960), the most baffling were some which indicated that efforts had been made in the early eighth century A.D. to preserve and safeguard the older fresco-images in the church. The procedure discovered here, which had served to incorporate important earlier iconographical matter into the program designed for Pope John VII (A.D. 705-707), was a phenomenon then wholly unknown from church art of the period. However, that a systematic labor of image-reuse according to such principles had been carried out, could be established with certainty on the basis of some very precise archaeological facts. These facts had to do, above all, with the absence on many of the earlier fresco panels in the church of the hatchings or indentures thickly applied to frescoed walls wherever they were to receive new coats of mortar. As proved by meticulous study of the panels in S. Maria Antiqua on which no chisel marks are found, none had had newer strata of painting applied to them. Evidence of these picture-protecting exerts is abundant in the church and prompted conclusions like the following (1968): ”Now it becomes possible also to gauge the fervor with which the individual frescoes were worshipped. The reluctance to obliterate a picture, the efforts made to preserve it, and also the eventual repainting of it with strict adherence to the original subject, all reflect an attitude characteristic of the cult of the icon”. Nordhagen 1968, 90.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgment of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).