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Gojko Subotić
 Denial of the Peter the Apostle, detail, north bay, Gračanica, 1318–1321
with angels offering them crowns. The close tie with the Constantinopolitan court is especially emphasized by the inscription next to the young queen designated as “Pal- aeologina, daughter of the emperor andronikos Palae- ologos.”
in a more ornate manner the divine origin of rule is stressed in the depiction of the holy dynasty of which King Milutin is a descendent. The elaborate genealogical com- position of the ruling house over a century and a half on the Serbian throne repeats the imagery of Christ’s family tree branching out of jesse’s root in the shape of foliage. The bottom of the Serbian rulers’ tree is taken by Nema- nja, while his descendants are placed in four rows above him, in tendrils. The most distinguished members of the dynasty have been selected from this lineage teeming with offspring, including, understandably, those who, follow- ing St. Sava, belong to his spiritual branch. in the verti- cal, direct line, kings Stefan the First-Crowned, Uroš and Milutin are represented as the most significant uphold- ers of Nemanja’s work. at the top, Christ is blessing the entire Tree with outstretched arms while angels on the lateral sides, flying, repeat the symbolic investiture, hand- ing his regalia—the crown and the loros—to the king in power.
after several changes in the manner in which the Ser- bian sovereigns were painted and the emphasis on the di- vine origin of power invested upon them, the house of the Nemanjić in Gračanica for the first time was represented in a meticulously designed, visually clear iconographic for- mula. The number of its members displayed on the joint picture is considerably larger than on other compositions of this kind. in a broader aspect such a representation, understandably, was not new and it could be traced back
to antiquity, from which the Tree of jesse also originates; the arabians and dynasties in the West were also familiar with it. However, it is not encountered in Byzantine art from which Serbia, as a rule, derived all iconographic pat- terns. The very position of these Nemanjić in relation to the position of the Second Coming of Christ, opposite Paradise—that “fortunate” segment of the apocalyptic vi- sion which threatened other sinners on earth—was cer- tainly selected by the master himself or his spiritual coun- selor from the ranks of the local clergy, in charge of such undertakings.
The wall decoration at Gračanica, the work of Thes- salonica masters commissioned by King Milutin, conclud- ed the maturation of painting during his reign. The nu- merous frescos, considerably damaged, yield no informa- tion about their painters, as was true with the frescos in several other shrines. There is no reason, however, why they should not be associated with the reputable artists Michael astrapas and eutychius. The frescos in Gračani- ca are closely aligned to their perception of art and style, the development of which can be followed on signed and dated frescos over a quarter of a century preceding Gra- čanica. it seems unlikely, therefore, that as early as 1319– 1321, after Staro Nagoričino was completed (1317/18), en- tirely new artists came along, fully mature and sophisti- cated, who belonged to the same stylistic circle and pro- duced works indistinguishable from those of their prede- cessors. These brilliant artists introduced new styles from the major Byzantine centers, while also participating cre- atively in their adaptation to the environment where they were engaged for many years on grand churches under obviously favorable conditions. Their work secured for them in scholarly literature the name of the “school of King Milutin’s court.” Their sojourn in Serbia coincided with his reign and ended in about the same month, after they had completed the last in a series of the king’s por- traits when he was already of an advanced age with a long, grey beard, and “seemed to have been touched by death.”
Under well-protected vaults roofed with lead the fres- co-paintings remained undamaged for many years and did not require renovation, as otherwise was frequently the case. There are only two frescos created at a later date, linked with events which came about in the meantime. in the southern chapel dedicated to the Mother of God intercession (Parakklesis) under the arcosolium where the tomb was originally situated of Bishop ignjatije who su- pervised construction of the church stands a depiction of the Death of the Bishop of Lipljan Teodor: over his body lying in state is a monk priest a prayer and swinging in- cense, accompanied by singers with pointed caps and a reader with an open book which is being read by all of them.
in close proximity, on the surface of the former en- trance to the same parekklesion, young Teodor, the eldest son of the Despot Djurdje Branković (1427–1456) was paint- ed after his death, some time before 1429. The confident-

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