Cyprus Medieval and Modern Arts

By | December 15, 2021

The most ancient monuments of Byzantine art, which dominated Cyprus unchallenged until the century. XII-XIII, are two beautiful mosaics of the century. V-VI, similar to the contemporary ones of Ravenna and Rome: one in the apse of the church of Panagia Angeloktistos in Kiti, near Larnaka; the other, also representing the Virgin and Child between two angels, in the Church of an abandoned monastery of Panagia Kanakaria, near the village of Lithrankome. The treasure of silver objects, found near Kerynia at the end of the century, dates back to the same period. XIX and in 1902, now divided between the Nicosia museum and the coll. by Pierpont Morgan in New York. Its core pit iimportant consists of some plates bearing reliefs with scenes from the life of David, worked with exquisite finesse. Numerous are the Byzantine churches, still little studied, scattered throughout the island, in most of the 11th-13th centuries. For Cyprus 2018, please check

Even before Cyprus was under the direct political domination of the Western world (1191), Romanesque architecture began to penetrate the island from Syria; after the occupation of Cyprus by Guido di Lusignano, French influence spread rapidly. Everywhere churches and buildings arose that were not inferior to the contemporary Gothic architecture of France. Four periods can be distinguished. From about 1209 to 1280 some beautiful Gothic buildings were erected, the eastern portal of the cathedral of Nicosia, the church of Lapaïs, the great hall of St. Hilary, near Kerynia. These buildings are mainly influenced by the Gothic architecture of the North of France, with some elements still archaic in the structure, and with somewhat squat proportions. Remarkable in this group the ornamentation, d ‘ a clear sobriety of forms. In the second period (mid-thirteenth century-mid-fourteenth century) the architecture was inspired by the models of Champagne and also, but to a lesser extent, by those of the provinces of southern France, reaching a singular purity of style, without a trace of archaisms in the large and harmonious interiors covered with light and solid vaults. At the same time, however, there is a decrease in the quality of the decoration works. The church of San Giorgio dei Latini in Famagusta, the upper part of the nave and the portico of the church of St. Sofia in Nicosia, the cathedral of Famagusta, the cloister and the buildings of the convent of Lapaïs, s. Maria del Carmelo, the church of St. Catherine and Jeni-Djami in Nicosia. During the third period which began around 1340, the influences of Champagne disappeared, those of the south of France took over and gradually took over; heavy, monotonous, not very elegant shapes prevail, with little use of decorative elements. The churches of S. Giorgio dei Greci, of Ss. Pietro and Paolo, of S. Anna, and that of the Nestorians belong to this period in Famagusta; the church of the Franciscans in Paphos, the church of Stazousa, near Larnaka, and of St. Nicholas in Nicosia. The fourth period followed (end of the 14th century – end of the 15th century), completely inferior to the previous ones. The constructive and ornamental motifs of the Byzantine and Romanesque period were recovered, making them sloppy and insignificant; and the effect of this mixture of heterogeneous elements is clumsy and confused. A characteristic example of this bastard style is the church of Morphou, Gothic in its masonry and sculptures, but Byzantine in the form and construction of the vaults. A similar development is observed in civil and military architecture, of which the most notable examples are the castle of Kerynia of the century. XIII; the castle of Famagusta from around 1310; the castles of Buffavento and Kantara of the century. XIV.

A brief sporadic appearance of the flamboyant Gothic style of Catalonia is felt in the architecture of the century. XV, especially in the so-called royal palace of Nicosia. More extensive and lasting was the action of Italian art which asserted itself with absolute dominance in the numerous cycles of Cypriot frescoes of the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The frescoes in the choir and portico of the Lapaïs abbey appear in part seneseggiano, in part influenced by the school of Avignon. Many wooden carvings that abound in Cypriot churches are executed in Venetian style. And Italian are also numerous tombstones and sculptures of the century. XVI. The traces that Italian architecture left in Cyprus in the century are scarce. XV; more abundant instead the buildings built by Italian architects in the following century in Famagusta, Nicosia, etc.

The production of pottery in Cyprus flourished rich and abundant in the 14th-16th centuries. These ceramics, imbued with oriental elements, are glazed, with graffiti decorations, similar in technique and style to the Italian majolica of the ‘300 and’ 400. Textile art industries existed in Cyprus as early as the 10th century. XII, developing more in the century. XIII. Nicosia exported to Europe silk fabrics, comparable to those of Damascus, and known under the name of “Cyprus damask”, famous for the solidity and brightness of the colors.

Cyprus Medieval and Modern Arts