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                                                                                    Nino Kavtaria

The Black Mountain School of Manuscript Illumination: Byzantine and Georgian Miniature Painting of the XI century


Research project focuses on the illuminated Manuscripts made at the Scriptoriums of the Black Mountain near Antioch in the 11th century.
The manuscripts under investigation are the codices Cod.gr.158 from Sinai Mount Collection, H-2211, A-484 (the so-called Alaverdi Gospel) of 1054-55, S-962 of 1054, K-76 of 1060 and A-845 of the II half of XI century, kept in K.Kekelidze State Institute of Manuscripts of the Academy of Science of Georgia and Kutaisi N.Berzenishvili Historical-Ethnographical Museum, from Vatican library, Iberico 1 and Georgian manuscript from Moscow State Historical Museum (Shukin 760).  canon
The key-goal of this work is to explore main tendencies in miniature painting, identify its main characteristics and draw a parallel between the local artistic traditions and those of the milieu. It could be interesting to study not only physical and external aspects of the book, but also function of the book in society that produced it. From the beginning of the eleventh century, Georgian Scriptoria of the Black Mountain (Antioch) experienced a revival in the Art of Book illumination. In the survived illustrated manuscripts it is possible to trace the development of distinctive the Black Mountain School features and indeed to observe them.
The subject of our research is to present iconographic, artistic and stylistic peculiarities of the manuscripts copied and illustrated at the Byzantine and Georgian Scriptoriums of the Black Mountain; to discuss artistic-decorative system of the Gospel, as a specific type of the manuscript.
      The aim of the study is to survey the principles of illustrations of manuscripts in the framework of one artistic school; establishing the typical artistic features and iconographic program of detached schools of miniaturists, will help us to reconstruct the process of evolution of Georgian book illumination.
The manuscripts of the Black Mountain School have never been treated separately as a group, though they are mentioned in every work on Georgian Book Illumination. It is generally agreed that the scriptorium which produced them worked in close connection with Georgian artistic traditions and they also reveal perhaps more of their Byzantine models.
In Georgian Art-historical scholarship our articles were first approach to this issue.
The goal of our research is to show the artistic principles of manuscript illustrations due to the traditions of the Black Mountain school and to underline peculiarities, which were common for the book art of the given epoch; study of innovations, traditions and relations not only with the artistic samples done up at the other monasteries (Greek, Syrian, Armenian – schoolif such existed) of the Black Mountain, but their relevance with the school of Constantinople, Mount Athos, Sinai Mount, itself Georgian, Greek, Syrian and Armenian manuscripts.
medea The study of manuscripts will carry out on the background of codicological, iconographic, artistic-stylistic and comparative analysis.

This investigation leads to specific conclusions about the Black Mountain artistic school, which show different methods from Georgian Gospel illustrations. Only some of monuments of the Black Mountain manuscripts of the 11th century survived till today, but we can still discuss the achievements of this artistic school in developing manuscript decoration. Characteristic iconographic and stylistic quests prove that alongside with literary center, a strong artistic school had existed at Black Mountain in the 11th century. 













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 last updated: 20.04.2006
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                                                                                                                         ninokavtaria@hotmail.com