Mosaics in the Cathedral of Monreale (1180s)

The cathedral of Monreale, above Palermo, was erected by King William II (1167/71-1189) in a royal park on the site of an earlier Greek church. Work on the structure and its decoration was largely completed by the death of the king in 1189. The church was consecrated to the Assumption of the Virgin.

The interior is impressive in its spaciousness and rich decor. Not only are there mosaics throughout, but also large antique columns with decorative capitals, marble paneling on the lower wall surfaces, and an ornamental floor in the sanctuary. The mosaics cover the upper portions of the walls of the sanctuary and the nave, in all a surface area of roughly 7.600 sq m. The Monreale Cathedral thus presents the most extensive mosaic decor in Italy, surpassing even Venice's San Marco.

The focus of the multifigured program is the main apse calotte with its half-figure of Christ Pantocrator, which far surpasses all the other figures in style. The main motif in the lower part of the apse is an enthroned Madonna and Child between archangels and apostles. The apse calottes hold large enthroned images of the apostles Peter and Paul, and the walls present scenes from their lives.

An extensive cycle on the life of Christ unfolds in three registers across the walls of the crossing and the transepts. The mosaic decoration continues in the nave where forty-two scenes from the Genesis are depicted in two registers. In the side aisles the mosaics depict Christ's miracles.

Preview Picture Data Info
Interior view
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Interior view
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Sanctuary with main apse
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Sanctuary, main apse, calotte
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Sanctuary, main apse (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Sanctuary, north wall
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Sanctuary, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Sanctuary, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Sanctuary, south side arm, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


South transept, west wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


South transept, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


North transept, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


North transept, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, south wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, west wall
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, centre aisle, north wall (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, north side aisle (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale


Nave, south side aisle (detail)
1180s
Mosaic
Cathedral, Monreale



Summary of Italian mosaics
Mosaics in Rome
San Clemente | Santa Maria in Trastevere | Santa Maria Maggiore
Mosaics in Sicily
Cathedral of Cefalů | Cappella Palatina, Palermo | Cathedral of Monreale
Mosaics in Venice
Basilica di San Marco
Mosaics in Florence
Battistero di San Giovanni (Baptistery)
Other mosaics
9th-12th centuries | 13th-14th centuries
Mosaicists
RUSUTI, Filippo | TORRITI, Jacopo | CAVALLINI, Pietro
CIMABUE | GIOTTO | GIAMBONO, Michele | ANDREA DEL CASTAGNO



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