The church of S. Maria in Trastevere was one of the tituli or parish churches of ancient Rome, known as the Titulus Callisti. It was probably built by Pope Julius I (337-352), but was rebuilt between 1138 and 1148, under Anacletus II (Antipope, 1130-1138), Pope Innocent II (1138-1143) and Pope Eugene III (1145-1153). After the Concordat of Worms (1122) the original ideals of the so-called “Gregorian Reform” started to be replaced by a new strategy to demonstrate the power of the Papacy. At this time Rome was the theatre of struggles inside the Church. The apse mosaic of S. Maria in Trastevere provide important evidence to understand this transitional period for the Roman Church. The book studies the mosaic as the product of rhetorical “speech” which employs images, inscriptions, colours and texts. The research is interdisciplinary in its approach, examining the semantic complexities of scritture esposte – that is, inscriptions executed with a refined calligraphy or of monumental dimensions designed to be legible to a broad but targeted public. Scritture esposte must be considered as “images” and “signs” that can be interpreted along stylistic and symbolic lines, but, since they are also textual vessels, should also be analysed as literary and linguistic tools. The book propose iconographical and iconological interpretations, as well as palaeographical analysis of the inscriptions and their iconographic function within the image. The book start with a critical presentation of the historical sources and with a description of the iconography of the mosaics, including the written texts considered as “images”. In particular, It analyses the following topics: the significance of the different colours of the inscriptions; the iconography of Mary and Christ “speaking” through the dialogue of the Song of Songs; the significance and symbolic difference between codex and volumen; the hagiography and significance of the saints represented and the liturgical associations of the colour of their robes; and the gold inscription. A palaeographic examination would proceed in parallel to a stylistic analysis of the work in order to apprehend the conceptual and compositional strategy of the figurative message and its final realisation. The overall result of such an examination are a reconsideration of the figurative, political and subjective relationships in the apse mosaic of St. Maria in Trastevere and in the Roman art of the twelfth century.
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