The mosaics of the Assunta in Torcello: a Venetian wonder

Experts have debated – and still do, in part – about the exact dating of the mosaics of the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello (Venice).

These important works – including the Virgin Hodegetria, Apostles, Christ Pantocrator, the Annunciation, the Ascension, Doctors of the Church, the Agnus Dei, the Crucifixion, the Anastasis and the cycle of the Last Judgment – are usually thought to have been created between the 7th and the 12th century.

The mosaics, and especially the ones on the inner façade – that is, the six horizontal sections representing the Crucifixion, the Anastasis and the Last Judgment, which date back to between the end of the 11th and the early 12th century – bear testimony to the beginning of Venetian art’s separation from the influences of Ravenna and Byzantium.

The Basilica in Torcello, dedicated to Holy Mary Mother of God, was first built in the year 639. It was later expanded in 826 and rebuilt in 1008, when it was dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta.

Here are some of its beautiful mosaics.

Photos via: ©Simon, ©atlantedellarteitaliana.com, ©mikestravelguide.com, ©wwwbisanzioit.blogspot.it, ©Daisy Lane Paul, ©Nick Thompson

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Virgin Hodegetria, central apse

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Virgin Hodegetria, detail

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Christ Pantocrator, right apse

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Christ Pantocrator, detail

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Agnus Dei in a medallion of the vault

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Overview of the interior façade

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Anastasis: Christ trampling the devil and the gates of the Underworld; at his sides, the procession of the saved from Limbo, Adam and Eve, David and Solomon, and the rest of the procession, escorted by two angels

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Celestial Court next to Christ Judge

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Hetoimasia, detail: on the throne, the cape of the Judge and the Book of Life; behind, the two-barred Cross and the other instruments of the Passion guarded by two seraphim

Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, Torcello, Venezia

Psychostasis: Saint Michael weighs souls and demons try to tip the scales on their side pouring sins from their bags and bottles. In the lunettes, the Virgin in prayer with the invocation: "Virgo di(vinum) natum prece pulsa, terge reatum" (O Virgin, pray the Divine Newborn, wash sins away)

Heaven. Above, the blessed; below, from left to right: Saint Peters, Saint Michael; a cherub guarding the door, the Good Thief with the cross, the praying Virgin, Abraham holding the Savior on his lap, the ranks of the elect

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)

The blessed

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)

Heaven

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)

The damned. From left to right: the lustful (the rich Epulon is the only one depicted full-length), the gluttonous, the wrathful (submerged in icy waters), the envious (with skulls gnawed by worms), the avaricious (represented with jeweled heads ), the slothful (represented as skulls and scattered human bones)

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)

The damned, details of the gluttonous and avaricious

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)

The damned, detail of the lustful

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)

The damned, detail of the envious

Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta, a Torcello (Venezia)

The mosaics of the Assunta in Torcello: a Venetian wonder

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