MOSAIC ARTIST, Italian
(active c. 1321 in Pisa)

Apse

c. 1321
Mosaic
Cathedral, Pisa

The work on the apse mosaic in Pisa Cathedral started in 1301. The decision to commission a mosaic may have been influenced by the fact that large new apse mosaics had been completed in Rome only a few years before, and the vaulting mosaics in Florence's baptistry were nearing completion. The Pisans may have hoped to compete with any of these. They first contracted Francesco da Pisa, but three months later they turned to the famous Florentine Cimabue, who would direct the project until January 1302. Nearly two decades later, in 1321, the mosaic was finally completed by Vicino da Pistoia.

In the mosaic, an enthroned Christ fills at least half of the available surface. He holds an open book in his left hand with the inscription EGO SUM LUX MUNDI (I am the light of the world). With his right hand he is giving benediction. He is flanked by the Virgin, who has raised her hands in intercession, and St John the Evangelist. Cimabue designed the John figure, Vicino da Pistoia the Virgin. Francesco da Pisa conceived the enthroned Christ, whose drapery seems more old-fashioned.




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