Laghami, Murals of the Church of Savior. First Layer
|Building:||Laghami, Church of Savior ("Matskhvar")|
|Layer of the Murals:||First Layer|
|Date/Period:||The end of 10th century|
of the Donor(s)
of the Painter(s)
The first layer of the painting of the lower church was completely covered with frescos created in the 12th century. In the process of conservation-restoration carried out in the 1980s, it became possible to fully restore the art program of the first layer.
The original painting in the interior of the minor church was composed of two registres.
Composition of Christ in Majesty was represented in the chancel: only a large figure of enthroned Christ was depicted in the conch – in the places where the upper layer has come off one can observe fragment of the Savior’s foot and the pedestal; images of archangels and apostles were shifted to the hall – on the north and south vaults; in these sections, on both sides are single figures of an archangel and an apostle, namely, on the north – St. Archangel and St. Peter the Apostle; on the south – St. Archangel and St. Paul the Apostle (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | ႮႠႥႪႤ – Saint Paul).
Plastering is completely fallen off the lower half of the chancel. Therefore, it remains unknown whether there was any image depicted on the lower area of the apse – a rather wide band of geometrical ornament made up of only blue and white squares can be discerned near the narrow maroon-colored line framing the conch composition.
In the lower registre of the south wall there are frontal figures of holy riders; only the halo and several graphemes have survived of the first figure from east (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ – Saint); scholars suggest it must be St. Theodore). Next to him (on the west) are portrayals of St. Artem (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | ႠႰ|ႲႤႫႨ – Saint Artemios) and St. George (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ | Ⴂ(ႨႭ)ႰႢႨ – Saint George); they are both depicted with spears in their right hands.
The Annunciation of the Virgin is depicted in the first registre of the west wall (fragment if the archangel’s foot and inscription have survived – ႠႵႠ | Ⴂ(Ⴀ)ႡႰ(ႨႤ)Ⴊ – Here is Gabriel). The lower registre is occupied by frontal figures of holy mothers: south of the door St. Barbara (Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ || Ⴁ(ႠႰ)Ⴁ(ႠႰ)Ⴄ – Saint Barbara) is represented with a veil and a diadem; north of the entrance is the crowned figure of St. Catherine ([Ⴜ(ႫႨႣႠ)Ⴢ] || ႤႩ(Ⴀ)Ⴒ(ႤႰႨႬ)Ⴄ – Saint Catherine).
Several suggestions have been made about the conjectural period of creating the first layer of the murals of the lower church of Laghami; Marine Kenia considers the first layer of the painting was executed in the 11th century (Marine Q’enia, “Laghamis matskhovris eklesiis udzvelesi mkhatvroba” [“Earliest Paintings of the Laghami Church of Saviour”], Sak’art’velos metsnierebat’a akademiis mats’ne: istoriis, ark’eologiis, etnograf’iisa da khelovnebis istoriis seria [Proceedings of Georgian Academy of Sciences: Series of History, Archeology, Ethnography, and Art History] 1 (1986): 164; idem, “Laghamis matskhovris eklesiis t’avdapirveli mkhatvroba. bolodroindeli aghmochenebi” [“Initial Mural Decoration of Lagami Church – New Findings”], Sak’art’velos sidzveleni [Georgian Antiquities] 7–8 (2005): 124); Liliana Evseeva presumes an earlier period, namely the period between the end of the 9th century and mid-10th century (Lilia Evseeva and Petr Greyding, “les peintures du rez-de-chaussée de l’église de lagami (haute svanéthie)“, Byzantion 66 (1996), 89-90); Merab Buchukuri names the end of the 10th century as the period of creating the frescos.
Given the characteristics of the artistic style and the iconographic features of the represented program, the turn of the tenth-eleventh centuries can be determined as the date of creating the painting of the first layer of the lower church of Laghami.
Guram Cheishvili, Merab Buchukuri, “Nekotorye osobennosti pamjatnikov srednevekovoj rospisi v Verkhnej Svanetii (Rospis’ inter’era)” [“Several Characteristics of the Monuments of Medieval Painting in Upper Svanet’i (Murals of the Interiors)”], IV Mezhdunarodnij simpozium po gruzinskomu iskusstvu [IV International Symposium on Georgian Art] (Tbilisi, 1983).
Marine Q’enia, “Laghamis matskhovris eklesiis udzvelesi mkhatvroba” [“Earliest Paintings of the Laghami Church of Saviour”], Sak’art’velos metsnierebat’a akademiis mats’ne: istoriis, ark’eologiis, etnograf’iisa da khelovnebis istoriis seria [Proceedings of Georgian Academy of Sciences: Series of History, Archeology, Ethnography, and Art History] 1 (1986): 146–65.
Lilia Evseeva, Petr Greyding, “Les peintures du rez-de-chaussée de l’église de Lagami (Haute Svanéthie)“, Byzantion 66 (1996): 81–100.
Rusudan Q’enia, Nat’ela Aladashvili, Zemo svanet’i (shua saukuneebis khelovneba). Gzamkvlevi [Medieval Art of Upper Svaneti: A Guidebook] [Sak’art’velos megzuri [Guide of Georgia]: 2] (Tbilisi, 2000), 75.
Marine Q’enia, “Laghamis matskhovris eklesiis t’avdapirveli mkhatvroba. bolodroindeli aghmochenebi” [“Initial Mural Decoration of Lagami Church – New Findings”], Sak’art’velos sidzveleni [Georgian Antiquities] 7–8 (2005): 124–43.