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  • The Age the Free Cities Nobility and Preaching Orders

The Age the Free Cities Nobility and Preaching Orders


Gothic (13th and 14th centuries)

Ston, planned fortified settlement, 14th century.
Three monuments symbolically mark the arrival of the Gothic style in The regions of Croatia: in Dalmatia, Radovan"s portal (1240) at Trogir; in the north, Zagreb cathedral (1275); in Istria, the Franciscan church in Pula (1285).

Radovan"s monumental portal, with its pronounced humanisation of Christian iconography, incorporation of new subjects and a huge number of realistic details from everyday life, and mastery of volume, as described in the previous chapter, worthily represents Gothic sculpture on Croatian soil and is contemporaneous with developments in the most advanced centres of European art in the first half of the 13th century. The choir of Zagreb cathedral, the first work of early Gothic architecture in northern Croatia, was begun considerably later, but since the Trogir portal was not, in fact, completed until the end of the same century, they could be said to date from the same period. They are even linked by some historical events: while Radovan was quietly carving away at the cathedral portal behind the stout walls of Trogir, in 1241 the Hungarian-Croatian king, Bela IV, took refuge in the city, fleeing before the Tartars, who reduced to ashes ("in cinerem versa") the first, Romanesque, Zagreb cathedral consecrated not long before (1217).

Bishop Timothy founded a new cathedral in Zagreb in 1276, but in the last quarter of the 13th century only the sanctuary with three polygonal apses and rib vaulting, and the sacristy were constructed. The shape of the ground-plan, similar to that of Troyes cathedral, is attributed to the fact that Bishop Timothy had stayed at the court of Pope Urban II in France. In execution and elevation, however, Zagreb cathedral is closer to German Gothic (Trier, Liebfrauenkirche) with archaic retention of the Romanesque round tower and the early Gothic relationship of closed wall masses and narrow windows with separate circular apertures. With its slow growth over centuries and change of styles, Zagreb cathedral is, in its way, counterpart of the Trogir bell-tower. Disregarding chronology, we are therefore obliged to describe it here.

Zagreb cathedral, the largest Gothic building in northen Croatia. The apses are early Gothic (1275): the nave and aisles were built during the 14th and 15th centuries in high Gothic style. Notable among the later church Furnishings is the baroque pulpit by M. Cussa.

During the 14th century, the construction of the main body of Zagreb cathedral was resumed following a changed, late Gothic conception (in relation to the choir), while the vaulting was not to be completed until the 15th century. The western towers were raised to the height of the church walls, but when the time eventually came for their completion, the Turks had already reached nearby Sisak. The builders then turned, at the beginning of the 16th century, to more pressing tasks: within the walls of the bishop"s town, Kaptol, around the unfinished cathedral, they raised another defensive wall with six round Renaissance towers. Thus, the change in styles coincided with a shift in priorities: from the imposing Gothic cathedral to Renaissance fortifications.

When the tide of Turkish invasion started to ebb, the building of the cathedral was resumed, but the reduction of the former plans and the modest work accomplished testify to the difficult economic and political circumstances in the 17th century: instead of two, only one relatively small tower, the southern, with late Renaissance forms was constructed. The main portal was a curious example of "historicism" in the 17th century, being a copy of the Romanesque portal of a church in Jak in Hungary. The increased security and prosperity in the 18th century are reflected in the transformation of the southern defensive wall around the cathedral, in the decorated facade of the immense new bishop"s palace, flanked by two round towers adapted for residential purposes, and in the lavish decoration of the interior of the cathedral with some sixty altars. The Zagreb cathedral complex, like the Trogir bell-tower, thus provided a graphic record of the changing styles, and stands as a monument to the whole history of northern Croatia, since the rhythm and intensity, progress and stoppages, in its construction directly mirrored historical vicissitudes.

With its huge baroque roof, Zagreb cathedral became, finally, the focal point of the city"s entire urban lay-out, forming the summit of a steplik pyramid above the tiers of house roofs in the Vlaška Vas suburb and the long horizontal roof of the bishop"s palace. Restored at the end of the 19th century in neo-Gothic style with two tall (105 m) spires and a roof of glazed tiles, the cathedral was transformed within and without into a monument to the sudden prosperity of the middle class, but the complex lost the harmonious unity which had gradually evolved by the integration of early and late Gothic forms with those of the Renaissance and baroque.

The Franciscan church in Pula is the most outstanding example of the wave of early Gothic architecture spread by the mendicant orders, the Franciscans and Dominicans, from Istria to the far south of Dalmatia, in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Originating in central Italy, these churches covered by a wooden roof are relatively conservative in their spatial and constructional conception of the early Gothic, having no aisles and only square apses with rib vaulting. Their type and extreme simplicity were determined by the new purpose and ideological programme of the preaching orders. The most impressive monument preserved in its original state in Croatia is the Franciscan church in Pula: a vast rectangular hall (12.5 x 34.5 m) with an open roof construction and plain walls, brightly lit by high windows.

A distinctive feature of this type of church built by the preaching orders is the placing of the pulpit. From Early Christian times it had always been beside the sanctuary so that the congregation was turned towards the altar. Here, it is in the centre of the south wall, supported on consoles like a balcony. Above the heads of the faithful but in their midst, the pulpit of the Franciscan church in Pula allowed all to hear equally well. Since the congregation was turned, during the sermon, towards the pulpit, the focal point of the church, in the functional sense, was shifted from the altar to the middle of the side wall of the nave. The "hall-type" character of these churches was thus attained more by this functional aspect than by means of the actual longitudinal ground-plan. The sole departure from the Franciscan rule of poverty and simplicity is the main west portal, with its rich Romanesque articulation and shell and vine ornamentation, the latter, like that of the Zadar portal or Buvina"s doors, inspired by monuments of antiquity - in this case, the arch of the Sergii in Pula.

Rakotole - painted with frescoes, 14th century.
The Franciscan churches in Koper (1265) and Piran, with a tripartite sanctuary, and the one in Pore6, with a single square apse, belonged to the same type. This simple one-apse Pore6 type was used for some 14th-century parish churches in Istria.

The early Gothic hall church without aisles of the preaching orders is extremely widespread, as the early Romanesque Benedictine churches had been in their time. In Zadar, the Franciscan church (with a tripartite apsidal construction) and the Dominican (with a single apse) were built in the same year (1280). Split, too, had two churches of the preaching orders. A typical urban example is Dubrovnik, with a Franciscan church near the western gate and a Dominican by the eastern. In contrast to the isolation of the ascetic monastic orders in the early middle ages, whose abbeys were usually far from towns, the preaching orders endeavoured to site their churches and monasteries beside city gates, where the greatest number of people would pass by, with the aim of influencing the "masses", as we would say today. At the same time, they were also entrusted with the function of keeping watch on the entrances to the city.

The Dubrovnik Dominican church, begun in 1301, already has the developed type of polygonal, five-sided apse (derived from an octogon, the so-called 5/8 type), as does the church of St Jerome of the Augustine abbey in Rijeka (1315). We explained this type of apse in Zagreb as being of French or Central European origin (the latter also applies to the Rijeka example), but in fact the same is found in the mother-church of the Franciscan order in Assisi, where it originated under the influence of Angers in France.

Of the developed building activity and wealth of Gothic monuments that existed already in the 13th century in northern Croatia, as written, sources and illustrations (engravings, drawings ... ) testify, all that survived the devastations of the wars with the Turks (15th to 17th century) were a few fortuitously preserved monuments and some minor ruins. An insight into the architecture of this period may be gained from three monuments representing the buildings raised by the major landowners and wielders Of power - the feudal nobility, bishops and monasteries. These are the remains of the Romanesque-Gothic polygonal chapel of Duke Koloman at Medvedgrad (1242-6), formerly with rib vaulting and a large rose window; the episcopal chapel of St Stephen in Zagreb (now in the archbishop"s palace), raised in the mid-13th century, with rib vaulting, Romanesque Gothic capitals and later frescoes (Rimini school, 14th century); and the impressive remains of the facade of the large Cistercian abbey at Topusko (c. 1300).

Following the first wave of early Gothic in the 13th century, several important buildings of a transitional character were raised in Dalmatia in the first half of the 14th. These include the bell-tower of Split cathedral and the cloister of the Franciscan monastery in Dubrovnik, in which Romanesque tradition and contemporary Gothic trends are combined in a distinctive manner.

The late Roman mausoleum of Diocletian was at first used for its new, religious purpose with only minor adaptations: Buvina"s wooden carved doors replaced the old ones in the early 13th century, an altar with a relief, by "Magister Otto" was installed, and an octagonal pulpit supported by columns was built at the end of the same century. But in keeping with church practice, and also because of the symbolic significance of the vertical lines of the tower in medieval cities, in the first half of the 14th century a bell-tower was added to the cathedral. Raised above the Roman flight of steps leading from the Peristyle to the ambulatory around the mausoleum, the Split campanile represents an original architectural solution, while at the same time echoing the tradition of Pre-Romanesque churches of the Dalmatian hinterland with a tower on the main facade which also served as the entrance to the church.

St Nicholas, Pazin , painted with frescoes in c. 1460. The work of south Tyrolean artist.
Skilfully fitted between the mausoleum and Peristyle, the Split tower also provides the very important vertical axis above the horizontal mass of the Roman palace - the city of Split. In its architectural features (the semicircular arches of the two-light openings, types of capitals, blind arcading) and in the horizontal division into stories, it is Romanesque in style, but the pronounced relief, projecting corner columns and the narrowing line of the upper stories display the Gothic feeling for volume and characteristic contrast of light and shade.

The cloister beside the Franciscan church in Dubrovnik was built by Mihoje Brajkov, as testified by his modest tomb inscription (t1335) carved on a corner pilaster: "tS(epulcrum) de. Magister. Micha. Petrar(ius). Dantivar. qui. fecit. claustrum." The covered walk around the square cloister has a series of hexafors (six-light openings) with paired columns, opening onto the central garden with a fountain. Although the arches linking the columns are rounded and not pointed, the Minorite cloister answers the requirements of Gothic forms with its slender columns (their octagonal shape multiplying the vertical lines and giving a greater play of light and shade than rounded ones), the elongated narrow openings between them, and the piercing of the wall above each hexafor with a circular aperture with quatrefoil tracery, thereby giving more light in the ambulatory. A similar relationship of Romanesque and Gothic styles can be seen in the capitals (except for those replaced in the 17th century). The actual type of figural capital is in the Romanesque tradition, but alongside the fantastic bestiary of winged dragons and chymera, there are figures of creatures carved with Gothic realism and firmly modelled: the heads of oxen and rams, four small dogs, an eagle with two eaglets, and a hawk attacking a hare, as well as the heads of women with kerchiefs and men wearing caps with tassels.

Until recently the art of the 14th century was relatively neglected in scholarly research and in surveys of European art history, although the trends and works of art of this period, directed towards man and nature and accumulating experience by close observation of comtemporary life, were an essential precondition for the appearance of the Renaissance. Moreover, the 14th century was the high noon of chivalry throughout

Europe, and in Croatia, as elsewhere, was characterised by the ascendancy of the aristocracy. At the same time, it was the "golden age" of the medieval communes of the Dalmatian towns, and the culmination of their struggle for economic and political independence (similiar to the Istrian towns in the13th century). In this their interests often coincided with those of the Croatian feudal nobility, for the coastal towns, besides maritime trade, also needed trade with the hinterland, where at that time the Croatian nobles were virtually independent of the royal government: the princes of Bribir in

Dalmatia, the Frankopans of Krk in the Kvarner region and the Croatian Littoral. In its centuries-old struggle against Venice, its main trading rival in the Adriatic, Zadar, for instance, managed to free itself from dependency in the mid-14th century, and under the formal sovereignty of the Hungarian king, Ludovik I, enjoyed, together with the other Dalmatian towns, its period of greatest prosperity.

The most outstanding work representing the culture of the 14th century in Dalmatia, the growing preoccupation with contemporary life and the increasingly secular character of religious art, is not a carved portal or free-standing sculpture but a work of the goldsmith"s art. This is the large sarcophagus of beaten gilded silver made for the relics of St Simeon in Zadar (1377-1380), covered with relief scenes and with a relief of the saint

on the lid. The only Biblical subject is the Presentation in the Temple, where St Simeon is a protagonist, the composition being modelled on a Giotto fresco at Padua. All the other reliefs deal with contemporary historical subjects or are updated versions of legends of saints set in the actual Zadar environment. In manner of presentation, the St Simeon sarcophagus is a typical example of the "narrative" style of art adopted throughout Europe in the 14th century, even crossing the boundary between such ostensibly different styles as western Gothic and the contemporary Byzantine Palaeologue Revival.

The scene of the discovery of the saint"s body includes a Romanesque cloister beside a church, a contemporary ship in a storm is faithfully depicted, and in all the scenes the figures are clad in garments of the period, with various caps typical of the time. One scene shows the entry into Zadar of the Hungarian-Croatian king, Ludovik (Louis d"Anjou), in 1355, illustrating an event which had occurred only twenty years or so before the making of the coffin. There are also several scenes portraying his wife, Queen Elizabeth, who commissioned and paid for this large reliquary, the death of her father, the ruler of Bosnia, Stjepan II Kotromanic (t 1350), her three daughters and her son, the future king of Bosnia, Tvrtko I, as a boy. Apart from the descriptive visual presentation, the Gothic narrative tendency is shown in the "long-winded" inscription covering the whole of one panel. Finally, the master depicted himself at work in one scene and, in keeping with the artist"s growing sense of individual identity in that period, prominently inscribed his own name: Franciscus de Mediolano (Francis of Milan). Besides the wealth of realistic detail, some scenes are distinguished by exceptional artistic interpretation, such as the stylised spiral waves in the scene of the rescue of a drowning man.

To gain a more complete picture of the 14th century along the eastern Adriatic, we must turn our attention not only to the traditional branches of art - architecture, sculpture and painting - but also to urban planning, since this marks a new phase in the development of cities and their spatial organisation. In this period, existing towns, such as Rab or Trogir, were built up or expanded, Dubrovnik (the Prijeko quarter) was regulated within walls, which then attained their present extent, the western suburbs of Split were integrated, and some new planned settlements were founded.

Closter of the Franciscan monastery in Dubrovnik , built by Mihoje Brajkov of Bar c.1330 in trasintional Romanesque-Gothic style. The arches of the six-light openings are stillround, but the octogonal columns are slender and eloganted in the Gothic manner.
The high level of civic awareness and organised urban government is best illustrated by the city statutes adopted or revised at that time. As early as the end of the 13th century, Dubrovnik"s statute (1276, 1296) prescribed strict urban building and health regulations (concerning the width of building plots and streets, the relationship of public and private land, steps and balconies ... ), clearly subordinating private interests to the public good, in the spirit of the motto carved much later over the door to the Grand Council Hall in the Rector"s Palace: OBLITI PRIVATORVM PVBLICA CVRATE. In this period streets were paved with brick and stone, the cost being shared by the municipality and householders, a sewage and drainage system was built, and as early as 1415 a street cleaning service was organised.

Having acquired extensive areas of agricultural land outside the city, stretching from Župa to the Pelješac channel, in 1335 the Republic of Dubrovnik drew up a project for fortifications to protect Pelješac, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic. In typical superior Dubrovnik fashion, -it had recently purchased Pelješac at the same time from both claimants to this territory: the ruler of Bosnia and Emperor Dugan of Serbia. The 14th century thus saw the start of the most ambitious urban undertaking of the Gothic period on the territory of Croatia.

Two planned fortified settlements, Veliki (Great) and Mali (Small) Ston, were raised on a cleverly chosen site - the narrowest point of the isthmus of the Pelješac peninsula - connected by defensive walls with towers and a mighty fortress on the top of a rocky hill, poetically named Pozvizd (under the stars). Beside Veliki Ston, salt pans of exceptional economic importance were constructed. The buildings that have been preserved mostly date from the 15th and 16th centuries, since the original 14thcentury houses, for reasons of economy and speed of construction, were mostly of wood. Veliki Ston, somewhat austere and monotonous, still retains the character of a planned "colonising" town. The uniformity evident here and in the previously mentioned expansions and rebuilding of coastal cities is typical of the planned construction or regulation of small towns, and even of villages, in the Dubrovnik Republic.

A series of civic buildings were raised to meet the needs of the municipalities along the coast and at the same time to reflect their power. Among these was the imposing Rector"s Palace (Knežev dvor) in Dubrovnik, which acquired its present dimensions in the 14th century. Destroyed by a gun powder explosion in the 15th, all that has survived of this Gothic building: apart from the basic lay-out - an arcade between two tower-like sections - is some walls and vaulting, and figural consoles on the upper story (a contemporary scene with a clerk).

In addition to the modest and fragmentary remains of older Romanesque fortifications (Novigrad, Motovun, Osor, Rab, Zadar, Split), we have a considerable amount of Gothic from the 14th century. Typical tall towers in the form of a square prism - which distinguish the fortifications of this century from the round towers of the earlier Romanesque and later Renaissance periods - strengthened the first ring of city walls on the northern and western sides of Dubrovnik. In Istria, the best preserved walls and towers are at Piran, on the Slovenian Littoral, with characteristic north Italian crenellation. But many small inland places in Istria, such as Hum, Bale, Motovun and others, still have a vertical accent given by the simple prismatic mass of their Gothic tower, whose dual function of defence and bell-tower reflected the modest economic conditions.

Turning to events in northern Croatia in the 14th century, we can observe in the example of Zagreb cathedral that art developed more rapidly than building construction progressed, so that chronological stylistic changes are recorded in structural forms. The early Gothic tripartite basilican plan of the 13th century, with the central nave considerably higher than the side aisles, was altered in the course of construction in the 14th and 15th centuries, in keeping with the late Gothic tendency towards spatial unity, to make the aisles almost the same height as the nave, thus leaving no space for clerestory windows and "basilican" lighting. Sculpture from this period is preserved only on the figural consoles of the north windows (a dragon, dog, masquer, old man) carved in the "soft" style of Central European Gothic deriving from Parler"s Prague and Austrian circle.

The composition and figures of the main portal of the parish church of St Mark at nearby Gradec are in the same style. This early 15th-century portal, on the south front facing the central square of Gradec, with the figures of Christ, the Virgin and St Mark, and of the twelve apostles in niches, is the finest and most impressive work of Gothic sculpture in northern Croatia. Although not completely preserved - damaged figures were replaced by wooden baroque statues - its artistic integrity has not been destroyed, for despite the change in style, and even material, the baroque liveliness and play of light and shade harmonise with the similar, but more restrained, features of the Gothic sculptures.

Kaptol, seat of the bishop, and Gradec, centre of commerce and crafts, were two small medieval towns on neighbouring hills below Mt Medvednica, which were united in the city of Zagreb only in the mid-19th century. Fortified by separate walls and towers, they have maintained their medieval lay-out, as aerial photographs clearly show. The aisled parish church of St Mark was built in the spirit of the late Gothic ideal of unified space, hence the squarer ground-plan and nave and side aisles of almost the same height and width, like a hall church. The architectural supports, following the same unifying principle, underwent a change: the former Gothic clustered piers are here reduced to simple cylindrical columns, the capitals are abolished, and the ribs, purely functional in form, spring directly from the shaft of the column to the vault.

The mentioned spatial conception and trend were prevalent in Central European architecture of the late Gothic, most impressively in hall churches in Slovenia (Kranj, Crngrob). Despite all the formal differences, this ideal of spatial unity was also realised in the previously mentioned aisleless churches of the preaching orders - simple nalls with wooden ceilings. The common ideological basis for this change - in comparison with the Romanesque -was the transfer of emphasis from the sanctuary to the area for the congregation, in line with the general trend towards humanisation of religion, i. e. its secularisation. Lit by large windows, the Gothic hall churches did not differ essentially from the large halls of feudal castles and palaces of the period.

Dubrovnik, for many centuries (14th-18th) the only free republic on the eastern Adriatic coast, gained its urban contours in the 14th century, was mainly built in the 15th and 16th, and underwent reconstruction after an earthquake in the 17th century.

As in Istria and Dalmatia, in northern Croatia and Slavonia the spread of the new Gothic architectural forms owed much to the monastic orders: the Cistercians (St Anne"s at Bastaj), Franciscans (Zagreb, Kloštar Ivanic, Ilok, Vocin), Benedictines (Bijela abbey, 14th century, with a bell tower on the facade) and Paulines (a large church at Lepoglava, built in c. 1400, with a polygonal sanctuary and stellar vault by the workshop of the Parler circle; the Gothic-style vaulting in the nave was added only in the 17th century). Typical churches of the northern regions are aisleless with a wooden ceiling and a polygonal rib-vaulted sanctuary - Gothic vaulting over the nave is exceptional and mostly from a later period (Remetinec, St George"s at Belec, Vukovoj, 1508). The unusual netlike vaulting with "pleated" ribs of the Vladimir Czech Gothic type appears in the sanctuary and nave of the ruined church at Vocin. In northern Croatia and Slavonia, there was much building in brick, particularly in the late Gothic period, but again only a few remains have come down to us (Lipovac, Toranj near Pakrac or the church of St Demetrius with a defensive tower over the sanctuary).

The formerly numerous fortified complexes are recalled by those at Đakovo and Ilok, and the remains of the largest - Ružica castle near Orahovica in Slavonia. The ruins of Ružica today resemble the rocky peak of a green hill, with its huge vaulted ground-floor chambers, large chapel on the upper story (bigger than most parish churches in the area) and walls nine metres thick in places.

Gorski Kotar, a forested region between Karlovac and Rijeka poor in major architectural monuments, has a notable aisled Gothic church, St Mary"s at Oštarije, a foundation of the Frankopan family (1450), who also endowed the 15th-century chapel with elaborate stellar vaulting in Krk cathedral. Gothic churches are more numerous in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region: at Zajezda, Ocura, Martinšcina, Lobor and elsewhere.

In contrast to architecture and sculpture, few examples of Gothic painting of the 14th century are to be found in Croatia. The finest work, following the art of Giotto, the great reformer and founder of monumental Gothic painting of the trecento, is preserved, ironically, in the most out-of-the-way place: in the little cemetery church of St Nicholas in the hamlet of Rakotole in central Istria. The walls of this modest church are covered with large frescoes depicting scenes from the life of St Nicholas in typical Giottoesque style, with figures swathed in robes falling in broad smooth folds, set against a compressed architectural background, but with details clearly taken from contemporary life. One such is the bed with a baldachin in the scene of the saint"s birth.

The late 14th-century frescoes in the church of St Anthony at Žminj, with their decorative elements and colours - bright hues against a dark blue background - already adumbrate the Venetian influence which was to become such a prominent feature of painting in the next century. The second, more developed source of Italian trecento wall painting, the Rimini school, is represented by the 14th-century frescoes in St Stephen"s chapel beside Zagreb cathedral. These are smaller than those at Rakotole but display even more realism in style and subject matter. In the desks and, writing implements of the Evangelists, for instance, we recognise the setting of the clerk or notary, so often mentioned in documents and shown in the miniatures of secular codices. Some manuscripts, excellently illuminated with scenes from the clerk"s life and work, intended for law students in Bologna, are in the possession of the Zagreb Metropolitan Library (Decretals of Gregory IX, Decretum Gratiani and Rolandi Notariatus).

Two trends can be observed in painting on wood during the 14th century: one continues to lay emphasis on strict linearity and monumentality of volume, while the other tends to richer use of colour and the elegance of form equally typical of the international Gothic and the Venetian Byzantine styles. The prototype of the former is the large painting of the Virgin with Child Enthroned in the Benedictine monastery in Zadar from the very beginning of the 14th century. Besides its voluminosity and the sure line of the large contours, we can observe here a small but significant Gothic innovation: the figure of the donor in contemporary dress kneeling by the Virgin"s throne. In European icons of the 14th century, the donor appears reverently and modestly beside the Virgin"s hem. Although usually so small as to reach no higher than her knee, these are, in fact, the first representations of secular human figures in religious painting. The human figure was thereafter to grow rapidly in size - relative to the whole composition - until the image of man, freed from supernatural protection, gained triumphant independence in the Renaissance portrait of the 15th century. The artistic quality of the Zadar icon is such that it could not be "ascribed" to any known artist. A marked individuality characterises the work of its painter, known simply as the Master of the Zadar Virgin. Some paintings in Venice (St Mark"s Museum) and Moscow (Pushkin Museum) are also attributed to this artist.

The same tightly constructed type of Gothic painting is represented in a work which has no place in the history of Croatian art, having been brought to Istria in the 19th century, but which is consequently a part of Croatia"s art treasures: the altar painting (originally the side of a wooden sarcophagus) at Vodnjan, with scenes from the life of the Blessed Bembo and his figure, also with the donor. Later used as an altarpiece, it is ascribed to a "precursor of Paolo Veneziano" or to an early phase of Paolo"s work. The voluminous monumentality of the figures in the Giotto tradition and simple realism of details mark the moment prior to Veneziano"s melodious singing line.

A series of paintings on wood of exceptional quality are attributed, more or less reliably, to Paolo Veneziano, the greatest painter of the Adriatic region in the 14th century. Combining Byzantine iconography with Gothic idealisation and feeling, subtle polychrome, attenuated figures and lively contours, Paolo created his own style and represents the mature and refined art of the late middle ages. His works in Croatia include polyptychs on Krk and Rab, paintings in Zadar and Trogir, and his masterpiece in Dubrovnik, the largest of all his known works: the huge Crucifixion, with the figures of the Virgin and St John on separate panels.

Inspired by religious fervour following the terrible Black Death (1348) this painting on a grand scale at the same time symbolised the civic pride of Dubrovnik, which had just then finally freed itself of Venetian domination. The donation of the Rastic and Lukarevic families, it also reflected the growing economic might of the city"s patricians and citizenry, and the increased self-awareness of private patrons. The Crucifixion still hangs inside the triumphal arch of the apse of the Dominican church in Dubrovnik, for which it was painted, and where is was placed, after the plague, in the sixth decade of the 14th century. The gold-embroidered antependia (altar frontals) at Zadar and Dobrinj on Krk also belong to Paolo"s artistic circle and the Italian trecento.

Though a large number of paintings in Istria, on the Croatian Littoral and in Dalmatia may be considered imports from Venetian workshops or the work of itinerant artists who came from the east, spreading Byzantine forms, some pictures may with reason be ascribed to local artists, a considerable number of whom are mentioned in 14th-century documents. A regional and local character distinguishes the group of paintings which have a red instead of the costly gold background common to both Byzantine and western paintings of the period. This is an interesting example of a modest solution in executing important tasks of the period. The "warmth" of the red background certainly has an emotional connotation - important in the Gothic age - and would have been hardly conceivable in another period. But this use of red also derived from the artists" experience in painting: since the base for gold was also red (bolus), gold paintings had a red background before the gold was added or after it had peeled off.

The Crucifixion in the monastery church at Tkon (island of Pašman) is a typical trecento work with some distinctive features. The figures of Mary, St John and angels are gentle, conveying restrained feeling by their gestures. Connected with this is a group of similar paintings, also with a red background, probably by the same artist. Attempts have been made to identify the Master of the Tkon Crucifixion with various painters known from documents (Maestro di Sant Elsino, Menengello de Canali ... ), but whoever he may have been, his work has the characteristics of the "Dalmatian painting school".

Since the 14th century, Zagreb cathedral has had in its possession some valuable illuminated manuscripts of French and Bolognese origin. A fine example from a northern French workshop (influence of Honor6 and J . Purcell) is the lavish Biblia Pulchra et Solemnis, while the already mentioned codices with a legal content are of interest because of their secular miniatures.

One of the most characteristic works of Croatian culture in the 14th century and a classic example of European chivalric culture of the trecento in general, is the Glagolitic Missal of Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic, ban (viceroy) of Bosnia and duke of Split. It seems that the author of the miniatures was a local master (who also illuminated the manuscript known as Hvalov zbornik in 1404), working in the manner of the master of the Trogir Crucifixion. The miniatures were undoubtedly done in Split in c. 1407. Apart from historical circumstances, this is confirmed by some of the motifs, such as the palace of Split in the background of a scene. In this lavishly illuminated manuscript with 94 miniatures, illustrations of the Bible, saints, allegories and scenes of the months on a dark blue background edged with gold, and 380 historiated initials, there are only three illustrations occupying a full page. One is the Crucifixion and two are "private" themes: the elaborately ornamented coat-of-arms of Duke Hrvoje, and the duke himself on horseback in full knightly apparel.

The portrait of Duke Hrvoje taking up a whole page of this religious book indicates how much the tiny donor of the Zadar Virgin had "grown up" in a century, and reflects, by its size, the dominant role played by the individual feudal lord in contemporary society. In fact, Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic was a major political figure of his time: "the King"s main governor in Hungary, Croatia, Dalmatia and Bosnia", and in addition "duke of Split". But this knight on horseback -cavaliere, chevalier, Ritter - is not just a passive subject on the page of the book but its commissioner, who by ordering books actively promoted literacy and culture. Even earlier, in 1368, another great lord, Novak, prince (knez) of Krbava, had himself written, in calligraphic Glagolitic, a prayer-book which doubly deserves its name of Prince Novak"s Missal.

In the conflicts with Venice or struggles between rival rulers during the 14th century, the eastern Adriatic towns not infrequently placed themselves under the protection of Croatian lords or recognised their suzerainty (as Zadar recognised that of Ban Pavle Bribirski, for instance). Under the nominal sovereignty of the Hungarian-Croatian king, Croatia was actually ruled at that time by the princes and dukes of the Frankopan and Nelipic families, the princes of Bribir and the bans of Bosnia. It was in the 14th century that the integration of the coastal towns with their hinterland areas developed most intensively.

Hrvoje"s Missal is significant in several ways. It shows the level reached by Croatian Glagolitic and the artistic activity of that period, while Hrvoje"s portrait adumbrates the triumphant progress of portraiture from the manuscript to the painting of the following century.

However, at the moment when, elsewhere in Europe, the accumulation of Gothic naturalistic experience was giving birth to Renaissance realism, in northern Croatia and Bosnia the Turks appeared on the scene. Their incursions - to be precise, the battle of Krbavsko polje in 1493 - put an end, among other things, to the important Glagolitic manuscript copying centres and workshops for illumination in the Lika and Krbava regions. In several missals, "clerk Bartul" of Krbava adopted miniatures of the Italian trecento from Prince Novak"s Missal, while the breviaries from Hum and codices from the Croatian Littoral (Vinodol, Senj, Krk) are, in turn, similar to Bartul"s works. This lively activity in manuscript copying led on to the appearance of Glagolitic incunabula: the first Croatian Glagolitic missal was printed in 1483 (very likely in the same hinterland area, at Kosinje), and the second in 1490 at Senj. The older Glagolitic manuscripts of the Istrian group - Beram, Draguc, Hum - were illustrated with rustic drawings related to the Central European Gothic style.

However, Gutenberg"s invention in the mid-15th century was no chance discovery nor merely a technical innovation: printing, which made possible the multiplication and spread of books in previously inconceivable quantities and with unimaginable speed, was the product of humanist aspirations and endeavours, and became a symbol of the Renaissance. The early appearance and adoption of printing in Croatia reflected the intellectual maturity of the environment, on a level with the European culture of the time.



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