MOSAIC ARTIST, Italian
(active 1100-1150 in Venice)
West (Pentecost) cupola1100-50
Basilica di San Marco, Venice
The mosaics in the west cupola, or Pentecost cupola, were created before the middle of the twelfth century. Following Byzantine iconography, the Outpouring of the Holy Ghost is linked to the Hetoimasia. (Hetoimasia: prepared throne, Preparation of the Throne, ready throne or Throne of the Second Coming is the Christian version of the symbolic subject of the empty throne found in the art of the ancient world. In the Middle Byzantine period, from about 1000, it came to represent more specifically the throne prepared for the Second Coming of Christ, a meaning it has retained in Eastern Orthodox art to the present.) Rays leading outward from the throne - which is surrounded by a circle of light, and onto which the dove of the Holy Ghost has settled - turn into flames when they strike the heads of the enthroned apostles. Below the apostles, between the windows, are representations of the various peoples, dressed in differing costumes, who were astonished to hear the apostles speaking in their diverse languages. Angels look down from the pendentives, pointing to the event taking place above them.
The figures in the bowl of the cupola are livelier than those in the earlier mosaics.