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Architecture, Sculpture, and Apostolate at the Dominican Church of Negroponte

In: Frankokratia
Author:
Michalis Olympios University of Cyprus Nicosia Cyprus

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Abstract

The present article endeavors to examine a decidedly understudied ensemble of early-fourteenth-century architectural sculpture gracing the interior of the church of the Dominican friary in the town of Negroponte, i.e. modern Chalkis on the island of Euboea. This building, now dedicated to Agia Paraskevi, has preserved a remarkable series of delicately carved corbels in the lateral chapels at its eastern end, together with an extremely elaborate set of sculpted archivolts assembled to form the triumphal arch of the cappella maggiore. After a brief discussion of the sculptures’ probable date and place within the cultural context of Lombard and Venetian Negroponte, the essay turns to the iconography of the diminutive figures emerging from the foliage on the triumphal arch archivolts. Representing not only the order’s venerable saintly patrons but also members of diverse social classes and even outcasts, such as the Jews, these sculptures appear to articulate a message of universal validity concerning the apostolic mission of the Friars Preacher that transcended the cultural landscape of medieval Greece, enriching scholarly discourse on the art of both the Dominicans and the Latin East.

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