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One area of historical research which I'm finding especially interesting is the Romanesque period of art & sculpture, along with its attendant lettering...

Cecilia_orn2.jpg (20227 bytes)

This design in marble relief measuring about 14" high is from the 12th century upper church of San Clemente. Looking like a letter "I" set in  a Celtic pattern, it is probably a stylized ionic column.

CosmedinMid1.jpg (20020 bytes)

Cosmedin_ALI1b.jpg (13681 bytes) Cosmedin_SVNT1b.jpg (14140 bytes)

The above inscription, with details, is from the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, a 7th century church rebuilt in the 12th century. The lettering, which is often difficult to date for lack of a date or contemporary clues, would fall somewhere within this time period. Following the nomenclature of lettering historian Nicolete Gray, I'm choosing to call this style of blocky, closely-packed lettering Romanesque. It may seem to be at odds with the more refined Romanesque sculpture shown on this page, but its late-medieval spirit is consistent.

S.Paolo_CandelabraBase1.jpg (21958 bytes)

Shown above is the base of a huge 12th century candelabra from the church of San Paolo fuori le Mura. The elaborate marble sculpture, signed by the Romanesque master Vassalletto, depicts a range of paleo-Christian and mythical themes evoking both faith and mystery.

SCFrieze_VIRPBUS.jpg (10020 bytes)

SCFrieze_ENT.jpg (10372 bytes) SCFrieze_QA.jpg (10925 bytes)

This fine inscription, letters approx. 1" high, is also from the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on the architectural frieze of an altar. My efforts to rub this have consistently met with failure, so I've had to settle for video documentation. Can you visualize a display typeface in this vein?

S.Clemente_monogram1.jpg (18895 bytes)

Again from the church of San Clemente, this wonderful monogram (~14" diameter,) is a synthesis of sculpture, design and lettering. Its meaning is still a mystery to me. Any guesses?

Coronati_full1.jpg (19206 bytes)

Coronati1_MidDetail1.jpg (15257 bytes) Coronati1_MidDetail2.jpg (16279 bytes)

I was privileged to tour the ancient 6th century church of San Crisogono, underneath the current 12th century basilica where I found this inscription. As with other medieval lettering, this is difficult to date, but the proportions, the variant forms and close spacing place it in the late-medieval/Romanesque tradition.

S.Lorenzo_tombdetail2.jpg (19711 bytes)

A relief from a 12th century marble sarcophagus in the portico of the church of San Lorenzo fouri le Mura -- this detail measures about 16" in height. The integration of pattern and figural motifs is a hallmark of Romanesque design.

 

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