Article Title

Molding the History of a Maritime Empire: The role of the thirteenth‐century mosaics of San Marco in reforming the Venetian past


The mosaics of the Venetian Church of San Marco embody how this empire used imagery for political and ecclesiastical purposes. The church of San Marco is recognized as a force which drew the island fragments of primitive Venice into a unified city and empire. This paper will examine the thirteenth-century mosaics by analyzing a variety of factors in the visual environment and the iconography of the mosaics themselves. First, I will examine briefly the nature medieval visuality and the previous architectural and artistic tradition within San Marco, moving then to analysis of the mosaics of the Old Testament cycle, the methods of transfer, and the model from which they were made. Next, I will explore the mosaics of the Cappella Zen and the South Transept as they pertain to the legend of Saint Mark. Last, I will present the historical context of the imagery in thirteenth-century Venice as well as the history of imitation and appropriation at San Marco. Finally, I will examine as a part of the historical context the medieval concept of time and history within the thirteenth-century environment, how it continues with and departs from prior traditions, and what this illustrates about the mosaics and the use of time and historical memory.

Faculty Mentor: Anne McClanan