Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/941

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

chapel of S. Pier Crisologo in the archiepiscopal palace preserves its original mosaics, and so also does the tomb of Galla Placidia (SS. Nazario e Celso), a small structure in the form of a Latin cross with a dome (in which, as in the baptistery of Neon, the old cathedral, &c., the constructional use of amphorae is noteworthy), with a plain brick exterior, and rich mosaics on a. dark blue ground within. The sarcophagus of Galla Placidia has, like the two others that stand here, been despoiled of its contents. The altar, like that at S. Vitale, is made of thin slabs of alabaster, behind which lamps were intended to be placed.

S. Francesco, as it has been called since 1261, when it came into the possession of the Franciscans, has been almost entirely modernized, except for the crypt and campanile (11th century). The baptistery adjacent to the cathedral was, according to Ricci, originally part of the Roman baths, converted to a Christian baptistery by the Archbishop Neon (449–452), though according to other authorities it is a Christian building dating from before A.D. 396. It is an octagon, with a dome; in the interior are two arcades one above the other. The mosaics of the 5th century, in the dome, are the earliest and perhaps the finest at Ravenna for their splendid decorative effect and rich colouring, and are less stiff and conventional than the later mosaics.

Of S. Giovanni Battista, also erected in this period, hardly anything remains after the restoration of 1683, and S. Croce has been overtaken by a similar fate.

After the death of Valentinian III. the activity in building for which Ravenna had been so remarkable suffered a check; but the reign of Theodoric (493–526) marks another era of magnificence. In the eastern part of the city he built for himself a large palace, which probably occupied about a sixth of the space now enclosed within the city walls, or nearly the whole of the'rectangle enclosed by Strada di Porta Alberoni on the south, Strada Nuova di Porta Serrata on the west and the line of the city walls on the north and east. There still remains close to the first-named street and fronting the Corso Garibaldi a high wall built of square Roman bricks, with pillars and arched recesses in the upper portion, which goes by the name of Palazzo di Teodorico. Freeman, on account of the Romanesque character of the architecture, thought it probable that it really belongs to the time of the Lombard kings, and his opinion is shared by Ricci and Rivoira, who consider it to be a guardhouse erected by the exarchs, recent explorations having made it clear that it was an addition to the palace, while mosaic pavements and an atrium once surrounded by arcades really belonging to the latter were found in 1870 behind S. Apollinare Nuovo and in r9o8 behind the so-called Palazzo at a lower level and a different orientation. A mosaic in the church of S. Apollinare Nuovo gives some faint idea of the palace. A more memorable and clearly authentic monument of Theodoric is furnished by his tomb, a massive mausoleum which stands still perfect outside the walls near the north-east corner of the city. It is circular internally and decagonal externally, in two storeys, built of marble blocks, and surmounted by an enormous monolith, brought from the quarries of Istria and weighing more than 300 tons. The plan is no doubt derived from that of a Roman tomb. In this mausoleum Theodoric was buried, but his body was cast forth from it, perhaps during the troublous times of the siege of Ravenna by the imperial troops, and the Rotunda (as it is now generally called) was converted into a church dedicated to the Virgin.

S. Apollinare Nuovo, the most important basilica in the town, was built by Theodoric to be the largest of Arian churches, and originally called S. Martino in Coelo Aureo (a name which it lost in the oth century). The exterior is uninteresting, and the church lost both atrium and apse in the 16th century. The interior has twenty-four columns of marble (from Constantinople according to some, from Rome according to others), with almost uniform capitals. The walls of the nave are adorned with mosaics of the 6th century; the scenes from the New Testament above the windows date from the time of Theodoric, while the somewhat stiff processions below, of virgins on one side and of saints on the other, are substitutions of the latter half of the 6th century for representations which probably contained some allusion to Arianism or episodes in the life of Theodoric (so Ricci). The mosaics have been in parts much restored; but the earlier ones still show, like those which preceded them in Ravenna, classical forms, variety of treatment and freedom of colouring, while the processions are monotonousiand inferior in execution, intended rather to produce a decorative effect than beauty of form. The pulpit appears to be of Byzantine origin (Rivoira). The campanile (850–878) is circular, and has perhaps the earliest example of the use of disks of coloured majolica as a decoration. This, like the other campanile of Ravenna, is later than the church to which it belongs. Those of the cathedral of S. Apollinare in Classe, S. Maria Maggiore and S. Agata, also circular, probably belong also to the 9th century, while the two square campanile of S. Giovanni Evangelista and S. Francesco probably belong to the early rrth century. The other churches erected by Theodoric are: S. Teodoro (or S. Spirito), erected by Theodoric for the Arian bishops, but entirely modified: the baptistery of this church (afterwards the oratory of S. Maria in Cosmedin) formed out of the octagonal hall of a Roman bath (?)—unless it is an originally Christian building—with mosaics of the 6th century imitating those of the baptistery of Neon, and freely restored; S. Maria Maggiore, founded by the Archbishop Ecclesius (521–534), but almost entirely rebuilt; and S. Vittore, which has suffered a similar fate. To the same period probably belong a few columns of the so-called Basilica of Heracles in the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, with capitals like those of S. Apollinare in Classe.

The impulse given by Theodoric was continued by his successors, and during the regency of Amalasuntha and the reigns of Theodatus and Vitiges (526–539), S. Vitale and S. Apollinare in Classe were constructed by Julius Argentarius contemporaneously with S. Lorenzo in Milan and the cathedral of Parent—also S. Michele in Africisco, nothing of the original structure of which now exists. The former, well restored by Ricci in 1898–1900 (except for the dome with its baroque frescoes which has not been altered), is a regular octagon, with a vestibule, originally flanked by two towers on the west, a choir added on the east, triangular outside and circular within; it is surrounded within by two galleries interrupted at the presbytery, and supported by eight large pillars, the intervals between which are occupied by open exedrae. The mosaics of the choir (547) are due to Justinian, and, though inferior in style, are remarkable for their splendour of colouring and the gorgeous dresses of the persons represented, and also for their historical interest, especially the scenes representing the emperor and the empress Theodora presenting offerings. The marble screens of the altar are wonderfully finely carved. The marble mosaic pavement (11th century) is very effective. Remains of the original marble wall lining and stucco decoration also exist. The capitals are, in the lower order, the characteristic funnel-shaped rectangular Byzantine capitals, some of them with open work, bearing cushions; this is a type probably derived from the cushion itself, and developed in the East about the second half of the 5th century.

The architecture of S. Vitale'(for plan see Architecture, sect. Early Christian), according to Rivoira, was inspired not by Byzantium, where similar churches—S. Sofia and SS. Sergio and Sacco—are slightly later in date, but by the churches of Salonica (A.D. 495), while the plan is derived from a Christian baptistery, or from such a building as the so-called temple of Minerva Medica at Rome.

S. Apollinare in Classe, erected at the same time outside the walls of Classis, and now standing by itself in the lonely marshes, is the largest basilica existing at Ravenna. It has a nave and aisles with a closed vestibule on the west, and a nne round campanile of the 9th (?) century. The exterior brick walls are divided by shallow arches and pilasters, as in other churches of Ravenna. It has twenty-four columns of Carystian (cipollino) marble, with capitals probably of Byzantine work with swelling