Nativity of the Virgin: Detail of a Cavallini Mosaic in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere
This series was created by Pietro Cavallini (1259-133), a painter and mosaicist from Rome. He also created the Last Judgment series in the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. This series dates to 1291.
The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere is a minor basilica and one of the oldest churches in Rome. The first structure was probably built in the mid-fourth century, although tradition says that it was founded just after the death of Pope Callixtus in 222. It was apparently first a house-church, reportedly bequeathed to the Christians by the emperor. The present structure dates to the twelfth century, including some of the remarkable mosaics on the exterior. Those on the interior date to the late 13th century, with the Coronation of the Virgin (1617) occupying the apse at the center. The portrayal of Mary is curious throughout. On the façade there’s a portrayal of the Madonna and child; inside there are various scenes in Byzantine iconography, including a depiction of her enthroned alongside Christ in the center apse. Another curious tidbit about this church: there was reportedly a miraculous eruption of oil on this site, reportedly one so voluminous that it flowed all the way to the Tiber, an event which is also depicted in a mosaic.
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