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9783895002083

By Erica Cruikshank Dodd. Photographs by Raif Nassif, Syriac Inscriptions by Amir Harrak, Architectural Plans by George Michell and Jean Yasmine

Medieval Painting in the Lebanon

2004
22.5 x 31.5 cm, 460 p., 371 illustrations b/w, 94 illustrations color, hardback
248,00 €

ISBN: 9783895002083
Table of Contents
Sample

Short Description

Christians in Lebanon have been painting their churches ever since the time of Christ but their work is largely unknown. Presently, the larger study of Byzantine painting has barely touched upon medieval Lebanon and very little has been published on a closely connected group of paintings in medieval Syria. Most, but not all of the paintings that have survived to the present day in Lebanon and also in Syria belong to the 12th and 13th centuries during the Crusades, a period when the greatest historical developments were taking place. As long as this region remained unexamined, an understanding of the cultural history of the Mediterranean basin was incomplete. This study approaches Lebanese paintings from two aspects. In the first place, it describes 26 monuments still visible today. The main body of the text then discusses the paintings as a group, including chapters on history, architecture, iconography and style.
These chapters explore and attempt to explain relationships between Lebanese painting and other paintings in contemporary, Christian communities. Ideas moved with great rapidity across the Mediterranean during the 12th and 13th centuries and the Lebanese frescoes reflect the vigorous and colourful society of Outremer. Among all historical circumstances since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Crusades had the most far-reaching impact on European history and culture. Arab history was not unaffected by the Crusades but the greater impulse was from the East to the West. There were momentous impulses that reached across the seas at this time, not the least of them being the burgeoning commerce of the silk route and the approach of the Mongols. Lebanese painting reflects changes of this kind during this period. They not only illumine our understanding of medieval history in the Mediterranean basin, but also our understanding of the East and the West we experience today.

Description

Christians in Lebanon have been painting their churches ever since the time of Christ but their work is largely unknown. Presently, the larger study of Byzantine painting has barely touched upon medieval Lebanon and very little has been published on a closely connected group of paintings in medieval Syria. A few paintings were noticed by French scholars in the nineteenth century and during the early French mandate in Syria. After the Second World War, Jules Leroy, Joseph Nasrallah and Pierre Tallon enlarged this knowledge and these authors also referred to Arabic sources, both Christian and Moslem, that spoke of medieval Christian painting long vanished, for example in the churches of Baghdad and the Tur Abdin. A few monuments have been noted by modern scholars, and Yaroslav Folda studied the frescoes of Crak des Chevaliers in depth. Yet this body of artistic works at the eastern end of the Mediterranean still illustrate a significant gap in our understanding of medieval culture.
Most, but not all of the paintings that have survived to the present day in Lebanon and also in Syria belong to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries during the Crusades, a period when the greatest historical developments were taking place. As long as this region remained unexamined, an understanding of the cultural history of the Mediterranean basin was incomplete.
I have attempted to bridge this gap by publishing two studies: The first one The Frescoes of Mar Musa al-Habashi, described the paintings of Syria, in particular the frescoes of the Monastery of St. Moses the Ethiopian, near Nebek. The reason for studying Syrian painting first was because the monument of Mar Musa al-Habashi presents the most extensive program of church decoration in the entire Middle East, documented and almost intact. This made a solid point of departure for the study of Lebanese paintings, which are much more fragmentary and diverse. This, the second study, is a continuation of the first one. Together they contribute to our understanding of cultural interchange in the medieval Mediterranean world.
This study of Medieval Painting in the Lebanon approaches Lebanese paintings from two aspects. In the first place, I describe twenty-six monuments still visible today and, in a few cases, what was there before it disappeared during the course of our work. A close description of the paintings and the painted inscriptions that explain them is given in the catalogue, including a black-and-white illustration of every painting. The main body of the text then discusses the paintings as a group, including chapters on history, architecture, iconography and style.
These chapters explore and attempt to explain relationships between Lebanese painting and other paintings in contemporary, Christian communities. Ideas moved with great rapidity across the Mediterranean during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and the Lebanese frescoes reflect the vigorous and colourful society of Outremer. Among all historical circumstances since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Crusades had the most far-reaching impact on European history and culture. Arab history was not unaffected by the Crusades but the greater impulse was from the East to the West. For the Arabs, the Crusades were only an interlude of two centuries, whereas the Crusades changed the face of Europe. There were momentous impulses that reached across the seas at this time, not the least of them being the burgeoning commerce of the silk route and the approach of the Mongols. Lebanese painting reflects changes of this kind during this period. They not only illumine our understanding of medieval history in the Mediterranean basin, but also our understanding of the East and the West we experience today.

Reviews

„Erica Cruikshank Dodd began her exploration of frescoes in Lebanon in 1.971. and completed
this catalogue of her findings in 2004. (...) One could hardly exaggerate the difficulties of completing this work over this period in this part of the Mediterranean, and it must be a matter of considerable satisfaction that the key monuments are now accessible in the art-historical literature. (...) This book is a considerable achievement, the result of very difficult fieldwork.“

By Robin Cormack
In: Speculum 2006, pp. 837-838
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„This beautifully produced book represents a major contribution to the growing body of work on the Christian visual arts of the medieval Mediterranean during the period of the crusades. Twenty-six monuments in four main areas in the Lebanon are included, located in or near the Koura - the plain near Tripoli; the Qadisha valley, high in the mountains; the foothills behind Batroun, below Tripoli; and the area of Jbeil (Byblos) and Beirut. The paintings are described in the catalogue, with their inscriptions and a bibliography, with proposed dating. There are numerous black-and-white and colour plates, a map, plans, bibliography, and index.“

By Lucy-Ann Hunt
In: Crusades, Vol. 6 (2007), pp. 191-193

Biographical Note

„This book is a considerable achievement, the result of very difficult fieldwork.“

In: Speculum. Jul 2006. S. 837-838.

Series Description


No english description available. Showing german description:
Sprachen und Kulturen des Christlichen Orients

Hg. von Johannes den Heijer, Stephen Emmel, Martin Krause
und Andrea B. Schmidt

Die international angelegte Reihe bietet Monographien, Handbücher, Sammelbände und Quellen zum Christlichen Orient. Dieser soll sowohl in seiner linguistischen und philologischen Breite erfasst werden (Äthiopisch, Arabisch, Armenisch, Georgisch, Koptisch, Nubisch, Syrisch) als auch in seiner kulturellen, religiösen und historischen Thematik. In ihrer zeitlichen Dimension erstreckt sich die Reihe von der frühbyzantinischen Epoche bis ins Spätmittelalter. Sie berücksichtigt vereinzelt auch gegenwartsbezogene Darstellungen über die orientalischen Gemeinschaften im Hinblick auf ihre Verwurzelung im christlich-historischen Umfeld.
Die Erforschung des Christlichen Orients erfolgt heute in verschiedenen Einzeldisziplinen, die jeweils auf bestimmte Sprachen oder geographische Regionen konzentriert sind. Neben dieser Spezialisierung besteht zugleich ein übergreifendes interdisziplinäres Interesse, die kulturellen und historischen Gemeinsamkeiten der einzelnen christlich-orientalischen Gemeinschaften in ihrer Verflochtenheit sichtbar zu machen. Die Absicht der Herausgeber ist es daher, detaillierte Fachstudien von führenden Wissenschaftlern aus ihrem jeweiligen Forschungsgebiet aufzunehmen. Zum andern wollen sie interdisziplinär angelegten Werken ein Forum bieten.
Der Christliche Osten hat für die Kulturgeschichte des europäischen Abendlandes eine wesentliche Rolle gespielt und dem Westen ein reiches Erbe vermittelt. Um diese Bedeutung zu erschließen, wendet sich die Reihe auch an Studenten und an die größere Öffentlichkeit. Mit dieser Gewichtung soll der Christliche Orient in seinen vielfältigen kulturhistorischen, künstlerischen und philologischen Aspekten gebührend ins Blickfeld gerückt werden.

Den Herausgebern steht ein internationales Beratergremium zur Seite.

Keywords

Ancient history (97) || Architecture (165) || Architecture: interior design (18) || Architecture: religious buildings (46) || Außereuropäische Geschichte (14) || Christlicher Orient (3) || Fine arts: art forms (180) || Fine arts: treatments & subjects (401) || History (834) || History of art (239) || History: specific events & topics (289) || Lebanon (28) || Mittelalter (288) || Painting & paintings (38) || Religious art (25) || Social & cultural history (51) || c 1000 CE to c 1500 (376) || c 500 CE to c 1000 CE (181)