Актуальные проблемы теории и истории искусства

ЛИЧМАНОВА ЕЛЕНА АЛЕКСАНДРОВНА (Национальный исследовательский университет «Высшая школа экономики», Российская Федерация). Развитие композиции quincunx в IV–VIII веках

ELENA LICHMANOVA (The National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation). The Development of the Quincunx Scheme in the 4th–8th Centuries AD

The quincunx is a term that describes a centered, symmetrical five medallion scheme. This scheme might form an ornament or a composition for figurative imagery. The first examples of the quincunx appeared in Roman art but its wider dissemination occurred in the later centuries of the first millennium. Eventually, the quincunx formed the composition for one of the main medieval iconographies, the so-called Maiestas Domini. Despite the significance and considerable popularity of this composition in early medieval art, it didn’t draw much attention in historiography. A monograph by Bianca Kuhnel in 2003 stands out as the only publication on the subject, but it deals primarily with the Carolingian period, and doesn’t thoroughly treat the origins and the earliest development of the quincunx scheme.

In this paper, we will be analyzing the earliest history of the quincunx. We will discuss the quincunx arrangement in Roman art of the 1st–3rd centuries, but our primary focus will be on its consequent implementation in Christian art, from compositions in Catacomb frescoes and manuscript illuminations to the patterns on jewelry pieces and coins. The main question of this paper regards the circumstances and reasons of the appearance of the quincunx scheme in various media, and also the problem of its spread during the 4th–8th centuries. The analysis of a wide selection of artworks with the quincunx ornament and the figurative quincunx composition has shown that the quincunx emerges under two main conditions. The first is the combination of a circle and a square: the square’s empty angles demand four additional elements to balance the central roundel. The second is the presence of a cross pattern. The latter formally connects the quincunx with the most recognizable and powerful image of Christian faith. Thus, we suggest that the wider dissemination of the quincunx scheme that coincidentally occurred from the 4th century AD onward might be due to its resemblance to the cross pattern. And, although the quincunx initially appeared in a pagan context, its spread is related to the process of Christianization.

Cредневековое искусство, художественная композиция, quincunx

Medieval art, composition, quincunx