Cappadocia and Monumental Painting in Eleventh-Century Byzantium
The Rock-Cut Church of Meryem Ana
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This study starts from an in-depth examination of the rock-cut church of Meryem Ana in Cappadocia. The author's analysis of the decorative program and the identification of paintings as part of a hitherto unknown illustrated Apocalypse of Anastasia leads her to conclude that the church functioned as a funerary chapel for nuns. The connection between text and church is important, as previously no extant text, official or private, monastic or secular, can be definitively linked with any Cappadocian rock-cut church. Other elements of the program, it is argued, also reflect political alliances and link the region with Constantinople. The study of the church is then extended to consider workshop practices in this region of Cappadocia as a whole, leading to a re-examination of local workshop practices, of their constituent components, and of the demands and desires of patrons -- and the particular circumstances of female patronage. This also forces a re-evaluation of the relationship between Cappadocia and Constantinople, and thus the relationship between the perceived center and periphery in the Middle Byzantine period. Cappadocian rock-cut churches have not previously been included in discussions of the nature of eleventh-century monumental painting in Byzantium. This book demonstrates that it is necessary to analyze the relationship between contemporary imperial and aristocratic foundations in Constantinople and those in Cappadocia-- as well as those found in other regional capitals, bringing important additions to the discussion of the nature of center and periphery in the tenth and eleventh century. The inclusion of Meryem Ana and associated foundations in this discussion broadens our understanding of the nature of regional variants in Middle Byzantine monumental programs. It also provides a re-evaluation of the role of patrons and their effect on the content and style of their commissions in eleventh-century Byzantium.
Lynn Jones is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History, Florida State University, USA