The Tree of Jesse at the Altar of the Church of St Demetrius in Arbanassi (1621) Cover Image
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Лоза Йесеева в олтара на църквата „Св. Димитър” в Арбанаси (1621)
The Tree of Jesse at the Altar of the Church of St Demetrius in Arbanassi (1621)

Author(s): Elena Popova
Subject(s): History, Fine Arts / Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Middle Ages, 15th Century, History of Art
Published by: Институт за изследване на изкуствата, Българска академия на науките
Keywords: Christ genealogy; church "St. Dimitar ”; Arbanassi

Summary/Abstract: The paper deals with the 1621 composition of the Tree of Jesse from the murals at the Church of St Demetrius in Arbanassi, from the identification of the representations contained therein to an analysis of its potion within the iconographic programme of the church and among the post- Byzantine examples of this representation. Here the Tree of Jesse is unconventionally placed in the space above the apse at the altar of the naos. The team of painters has used the Christ’s genealogy at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul in Veliko Turnovo as a reference point. The specific position and the structure of the composition at St Demetrius are, however, an outcome of a long-gestated concept. Between the lowest register, where the representation of Jesse is central, and the band, where the Virgin is central, three horizontal bands are pieced out around the representations of David, Solomon and Melchizedek. In the centre of the arch thickness, Archangel Gabriel descends to the Virgin, thus representing the so-called Annunciation ‘through the ear’. On the west profile of the arch, the disciples are depicted, separated by a representation of the sitting Christ crowning the entire composition. The figure of Melchizedek, the archetype of Christ, and the vegetal code of the Tree establish a connection with the Eucharistic subject, developed in the apse. The Annunciation associated with the Conception corresponds to the representation of the Virgin in the conch, replacing the scene of the Annunciation traditionally painted on the chancel arch. The disciples upon the arch refer to the subject of the founding of the Church, which is further developed in the scenes upon the south and the north walls of the naos. The composition of the Tree of Jesse at the altar of the Church of St Demetrius is symbolically reminiscent of the prehistory, while at the narthex, the Last Judgement visualises the End Times. The entire 1621 iconographic programme is a product of a single concept, from the most sacral area in the east at the altar to the „ profane” east wall of the narthex.

  • Issue Year: 2021
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 3-9
  • Page Count: 7
  • Language: Bulgarian