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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states

VII: Painting and sculpture in the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, 1099-1291,   pp. 251-280 PDF (16.3 MB)

Page 260

century name, which some say is St. Jeremiah.9 Probably erected in the 1140's,
the church has the character of a fortress with remarkably heavy walls and
a spring in the crypt. Inside, in the nave, was an ex tensive series of frescoes
which the moisture from below has relent lessly flaked from the walls. It
is hoped that the conservation work now (1975) in progress will stop the
slow destruction of the frescoes remaining. All that survives is located
in the eastern apses and the two adjoining bays of the nave and aisles. The
three apses contain fragments of, on the north, the Deësis, in the center,
the Anastasis, and on the south, Paradise seen as the Three Patriarchs with
souls of the blessed in their laps. Other major fragments survive of the
Cruci fixion on the wall of the south aisle and the Dormition of the Virgin
on the wall of the north aisle. The style and iconography are strongly Byzantine,
but again the inscriptions are in Latin. The Deësis in the north apse
is nearly invisible now, but we know what it looked like in 1907, thanks
to the careful watercolors of M. le comte de Piellat (pl. XXXVb). The most
significant aspect of the iconography revealed by this document is the enormous
high-backed throne on which Christ is seated. This dissociates the Abü-Ghosh
fresco from the Deësis in the Melisend Psalter and that in the Bethlehem
narthex chapel and relates it to an older type which seems to have been re
vived by the crusaders here alone. 
 The fresco of the Three Patriarchs with the souls of the blessed is the
best preserved of the three apses; though in poor condition in deed, the
three main figures of Abraham (center), Isaac (left), and Jacob (right) can
be dimly discerned in the photograph (pl. XXXI Va) with the aid of M. de
Piellat's watercolor as a guide (pl. XXXIVb). Furthermore, one can see a
soul being brought to Abraham at the left center, an angel to the right center,
and a flower below a tree at the far right. 
 The iconography of the Three Patriarchs was common in Byzan tine art but
appears seldom in the west, apparently under Byzantine influence as in the
sculpture at St. Trophime, Arles.10 Even in Byzan tine art, however, it is
rare to find it in an apsidal composition as 
 9. The sources are vague on the date of the crusader church at Abü-Ghosh,
formerly known as Qaryat al-'Inab. If Abu-Ghosh is to be identified with
Qiryat Ye'arim, then the church may be dated 1098-1137; see Clermont-Ganneau,
Archeological Researches in Pales tine, II (London, 1896), 60-63. Or if Abu-Ghosh
is to be identified, as seems more likely, with the twelfth-century Emmaus,
then it seems to be a church built under Hospitaller con trol in the 1 140's.
The name St. Jeremiah seems to be found in the sources only since the sixteenth
century; see Enlart, Les Monuments des croisés dans le royaume de
Jerusalem, II (Paris, 1928), 315-319. 
 10. A. K. Porter, Romanesque Sculpture of the Pilgrimage Roads; vol. IX,
Provence (Boston, 1923), p1. 1370. 

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