Bulgaria, Mediaeval Wall Paintings

Bulgaria, Mediaeval Wall Paintings

Bulgaria, Mediaeval Wall Paintings

Bulgaria, Mediaeval Wall Paintings

Excerpt

The plates in this album are reproductions of wall paintings from the XIIth, XIIIth, XIVth and XVth centuries, an era in which the arts flourished in Bulgaria and all the Balkan countries. Everywhere we find the same predominance of monuments dating from the later Middle Ages. This is due to the increase in artistic activity which followed the breaking up of the Balkan peninsula into small political units. One consequence of this disintegration was a spate of works of art, every king, prince and petty potentate feeling it his duty to patronize the arts in his capital and domains.

Of secular art, which did not lack encouragement from these Maecenases, little, if anything, remains, but respect for places of worship has preserved from destruction a large number of ancient churches. Here it is that the murals reproduced in this work are to be found, for the Byzantine Church had long before made it a rule, which it managed to impose on the national Churches it founded throughout the Empire, to cover the entire inside walls of every place of worship with pictures of Christ, the Saints and scenes from providential history. The choice of subject and place varies little from one church to another, although just at this time, towards the end of the Middle Ages, the number of subjects was often increased and the cycles of scenes from the Scriptures and the Lives of the Saints became longer. Despite this more ambitious scheme of iconography, the modest dimensions of the places of worship made it possible for a single painter or small group of painters from the same school to decorate an entire church in quite a short time. In consequence . . .

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