Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The art and architecture of the crusader states
V: The Arts in Cyprus, pp. 165-207 PDF (15.7 MB)
Ch. V CYPRUS: ECCLESIASTICAL ART 171 The figures have been cut back flat to the main face, but the outlines of their poses and their haloes strongly suggest the apostles at the foot of a Transfiguration. The outside niches may have held figures of founders or particular patron saints, with, beyond, the censing angels, the only figures tolerated by the Turks. These angels are of a quality much superior to that of the voussoir figures. Between the doors must have stood a trumeau figure, for which the canopy still survives, and there are similar canopies for two other column figures on either side of the central entrance. All three doorways are flanked by twin niches, of little depth and framed in elaborate foliage borders; above them two hands hold a crown; they must have contained paintings rather than sculpture, possibly panel icons, for two of them still have hooks fixed below the crowns. On some of the foliage carving there are still faint traces of color. In the shadow of its arched bays the porch must have been a rich and glowing spectacle in its original completeness, and a fitting entry to the cathedral as decorated within by John del Conte, with its marble choir screen, echoing presumably the style of the porch, its painted ceiling of stars on a blue ground, its woven fabrics, and its wall paintings. The archbishop also added a chapel, opening from the second bay on the south side, dedicated to St. Thomas Aquinas. John del Conte was himself a Dominican, and the Friar Preachers were always an important force in the island; it was for the young Hugh II that Thomas Aquinas himself had written his De Regno ad regem cypri. 6 This chapel Felix Fabri tells us was, when he visited it in 1484, "exquisitely painted with the legends of the Holy Doctor, while a gilt plaque on the altar sets forth his acts."7 Possibly to this same period belongs the rebuilding of the two-storied treasury in the north transept, the upper room of which, with its store cupboard built into the wall, is one of the best preserved parts of the whole church, and one where the stonework can be admired without the thick layers of whitewash that elsewhere blur all the details. The silhouette of the great cathedral rises above the houses of Nicosia; despite its two Turkish minarets, it has a strangely familiar air to western eyes, familiar but disconcerting, for it lacks the high-pitched roofs of northern Gothic. From the arrangements of 6. See Thomas Aquinas, On Kingship, to the King of Cyprus..., tr. G. B. Phelan, rev. with introduction and notes by I. T. Eschmann (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 1948), pp. xxvi-xxxix. 7. Fratris F. Fabri evagatorium in Terrae San ctae Arabiae et Egypti peregrinationem, ed. C. D. Hassler (Bibliothek des literarischen Vereins in Stuttgart, II-IV; 3 vols., Stuttgart, 1843-1849), III, 230.
Copyright 1977 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved. Use of this material falling outside the purview of "fair use" requires the permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. To buy the hardcover book, see: http://www/wisc/edu/wisconsinpress/books/1735.htm