Ζητήματα μνημειακής ζωγραφικής του 16ου αιώνα : Η τοπική ηπειρωτική σχολήPart of : Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας ; Vol.34, 1992, pages 13-32
Questions of 16th-Century Monumental Paintings : The Provincial Epirote School
Around 1530, two sets of monumental wall paintings define the appearance of the Cretan and the provincial Epirote schools of painting that predominated in mainland Greece up to the end of the sixteenth century, brilliantly gracing the acme of Orthodox painting in the period after the Fall of Constantinople. Respectively, these are the wall-paintings of the Cretan Theophanes Strelitzas Bathas in the Anapausas monastery at Meteora dating to 1527, and those from a period shortly after, possibly from 1531/32, executed by the anonymous painter of the monastery of the Philanthropinon on the island of Lake Ioannina. In the decoration of the Philanthropinon monastery, the first of three or four sixteenth-century painting phases, the wealth of knowledge and experience amassed from the art of mainland Greece was sagaciously blended with the methods and types of Cretan painting in a fruitful admixture. Here the provincial Epirote school created its first masterpiece. That this should have taken place at Ioannina is no coincidence. This former capital of the Despotate of Epirus had all the appropriate pre-requisites for this achievement: an artistic tradition, good social and economic standing, tolerable treatment by the conqueror, and powerful families given to religious good works. Furthermore, it is quite possible that Cretan models were used in Ioannina icon 45. Βλ. Stavropoulou-Makri, Les peintures murales; σ. 137 κ.ε. Ο ναός της Κράψης έχει διαστάσεις 18,25x7,13 μ. (Ευαγγελίδης , Ο ζωγράφος Φράγκος Κατελάνος, ό.π. (υποσημ. 18), σ. 45). 46. Για το πρόγραμμα βλ. Αχειμάστου-Ποταμιάνου , Η μονή των Φιλανθρωπηνών, σ. 37 κ.ε. 47. Λίβα-Ξανθάκη , ό.π. (υποσημ. 6), σ. 18 κ.ε., εικ. 3. 48. Αχειμάστου-Ποταμιάνου , Η μονή των Φιλανθρωπηνών, σ. 39 κ.ε., πίν. 79. 49. Ό.π. , σ. 176. Για το θέμα βλ. S. De r Nersessian, Note sur quelques images se rattachant au thème du Christ-Ange, CahArch XIII (1962), σ. 209 κ.ε. Δ. Ι. Πάλλας , Ο Χριστός ως η Θεία Σοφία, Η εικονογραφική περιπέτεια μιας θεολογικής έννοιας, ΔΧΑΕ, περ. Δ - τ. ΙΕ' (1989-1990), σ. 128 και 137 κ.ε. workshops, while the town's close relations with Meteora secured an immediate source of knowledge for the work of Theophanes. The decoration of the Philanthropinon monastery follows in a series of seventeen known sets of wall-paintings in fourteen monasteries and churches up to the end of the sixteenth century. Eight of these survive in Epirus (the monasteries of the Philanthropinon, Strategopoulos or Dilios and Eleousa on the island, the churches of Ayios Nikolaos at Krapsi, Ayios Demetrios and the Metamorphosis at Veltsista); ten in Aetolia (Myrtia monastery), Thessaly (Varlaam monastery at Meteora), Macedonia (church of Rasiotissa at Kastoria, the monasteries of the Great Lavra on Mt. Athos and Zavorda at Grevena), Euboea (church of the Palaeopanayia at Steni, the monastery of Galataki) and Boeotia (the monastery of Osios Meletios). Of interest here is the dispersal of works outside Epirus within the broad geographical area of central and northern Greece (unlike works of the Cretan School which were mostly confined to the large monasteries of Mt. Athos and Meteora). This was mostly due to successive and quite easily explained relations between the works' donors and painters, and also explains up to a point the significant dissemination of the School's forms and ideas in following generations of painters, already evident in the late sixteenth century, most of whom now came from semi-urban of argircultural environments extending from the Péloponnèse to the Balkans in the north. Of importance is the fact that of the eighteen sets of wall-paintings, of varying extent and quality, twelve are precisely dated by inscriptions from 1539 (Myrtia monastery) to 1592/93 or 1595/96 (wall-paintings of the dome in the Zavorda monastery), while only four (from the second half of the century) bear the names of the painters: Frangos Katelanos from Thebes in Boeotia (chapel of Ayios Nikolaos in the Lavra monastery, 1560), and of the brothers, likewise from Thebes, the priest Georgios and Frangos Konfaris (church of Krapsi, 1563; the liti of the Varlaam monastery, 1566), and of Frangos Kontaris alone (church of the Metamorphosis at Veltsista, 1568). The other painters remain anonymous, as is often the case for this period. The Theban origins of the three painters who worked in Epirus and in the Epirote monastery of Varlaam, where Frangos Katelanos possibly decorated the katholikon (1548), raises the valid question of their artistic training, and consequently of the School's generative relationship with Thebes, a question that remains unanswered due to the lack of evidence for art there. Furthermore, the rather late appearance of the Theban painters, who manifestly provided an impetus for and extended the activity of the already-existing School, the existence of fine works of the School in the monasteries on the island of Lake Ioannina, and the diachronic ascertainableness of ties with art in Epirus and bordering areas, support the view that Ioannina represented the main, if not the first, hearth of the School's activity. The School's ambiguous epithet of "provincial Epirote" and "mainland Greek" rests on this assumption, as opposed to other suggestions (Theban School, N.W. Greek School). A still far from exhausted aspect of this research, but one of basic importance, is involved with the kindred and differential aspects of the Schools of Cretan and Epirote painting which, appearing from opposite directions but inter-linked in piecemeal areas, came to define brilliantly the most creative area of sixteenth-century art. Both Schools presented definite parallel developments as regards stylistic tendencies, ideographic content, and iconographie programmes. In their works we see a vision of worlds with different traditions, values and experiences of life. These very significant contrasts are comparable in structure, the extent and composition of the iconographical cycles which make up the extensive painted programmes in particular (such as those in the Lavra monastery on the one hand and in the Philanthropinon monastery on the other), in the feel of the thythm, and in the quality and ethos of their painting. The esoteric quality of the closed compositions, the simple and profound proportion, the dogmatic decorum, and the spirituality of Theophanes' art are contrasted with the pronounced perception of the dramatic, the narrative eloquence, the love for the real, the boldness of motion, and the expressive stride of the Epirote painters. The systematic study of these works (which for most of the output of both Schools is still wanting) will progressively shed light on a great many more aspects, including the Epirote School's influence on more northerly areas.