Essay

Paolo Veneziano’s arbor crucis in Dubrovnik and the Rhetoric of the Frame in the Mid-Trecento

Matko Marušić

Published online:

23 Nov 2022

Abstract

Abstract

The paper analyzes the wooden frame of Paolo Veneziano’s monumental Crucifixion, the largest trecento composition in the Adriatic to survive, on the triumphal arch of the church of St. Dominic in Dubrovnik. By including the scrolls’ foliage, the Old Testament prophets, and censing angels, this frame transforms a stylistically inventive yet typologically conventional “croce dipinta” into one aligned with the iconography of the arbor vitae by way of an unprecedented shift of attention to its margins. The full power of the Crucifixion is vested both in the body of the crucified Christ and its frame. At the same time, its overarching theme of the genealogy of Christ and his Passion can be subject to different readings, i.e. “doctrinal,” “liturgical,” or, as the paper tentatively proposes, “Dominican.”

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