The armenian miniature


‘The study of Armenian miniatures began with the Byzantines who considered them a margi-nal expression of Byzantine art. Over the last few years it has re-ceived great impulse thanks to the work of specialists like Dour-novo, S. Der Nesessian, Father M. Gianasian, T. Ismailova. The period of time involved is an extremely long one – at least a thousand years – while, geogra-phically speaking the Armenian “scriptoria” were present in greater Armenia, in Cilicia, in the Armenian centres more clo-sely linked to Byzantium and fi-nally, at a much later stage, in the colonies of the Diaspora. Hundreds of miniature codices exist which represent a priceless patrimony and in which the Armenian artists, by filtering nu-merous and various cultural ex-periences accumulated in diffe-rent areas, have expressed their creative genius thereby enabling the Armenian miniature to oc-cupy a well-deserved place in the history of Oriental art. The attention of the Armenian artists has focused above all on sacred texts: evangelistaries, ri-tual lectionaries and, to a lesser extent, bibles. If the sacred text miniatures are above all an expression of faith and, sometimes, of theological reflection, often they offer a pre-cious testimony of secular rea-lity. The taste for rich, detailed decoration which is one of the main-themes of Armenian minia-ture art, enables the observer to grasp a number of interesting aspects concerning the social environment in which the artist works. The Meeting exhibition proposes a series of 34 panels with large colour reproductions of the most beautiful miniatures cho-sen from 7th – 17th century manu-scripts from Greater Armenia, the Kingdom of Cilicia and the Armenian Diaspora kept in the libraries of the Mechitarist fathers of St. Lazarus in Venice, of the Mesrop – Mashtoz “Matenada-ran” of Erevan, capital of Soviet Armenia, and of the N. Julfa cathedral of Isfahan in Iran. One of the first things which strikes the visitor is the vast range of co-lours, the abundant use of gold (above all for the backgrounds), the never-ending variety of de-corative motifs, the expressive-ness and setting of the human figures, the realistic representation of life which characterizes the Armenian miniatures and makes them an extraordinary means of expressing the ability attained by artists in communi-cating tension, pathos and dal-ly life. Of outstanding importan-ce is the presence of a number of miniated codices exhibited in the showcases as part of the ex-hibition. Also fascinating is the life-size reconstruction of a “scriptorium” based on the reproductions of the miniaturists of old Armenia. The exhibition is completed by a series of old antique objects from this ancient region, loaned to the Meeting by the Mechitarist fathers of the island of St. Lazarus of the Armenians in Venice, and of others also associated with the “scriptoria” and the life of the monasteries, kindly lent by the Benedictine fathers of Praglia Abbey (Padua).’


20 Agosto 1989 - 27 Agosto 1989


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions