Page 333 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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to the Monastery of Nova Pavlica, the foundation of La- zar’s nephews in the i bar valley. There it was met by La- zar’s widow, Milica, and their two sons, Stefan and Vuk. Finally, Lazar’s body was taken to his foundation, Rav- anica, where it remained until the end of the seventeenth century.47
it is not my purpose to suggest that the illustrations of the alexandriad are disguised depictions of some of the events that took place before, during, and after the Battle of Kosovo. Rather, these images are used to point out cer- tain iconographic traditions, which, due to their stereo- typical nature, give a general pictorial idea about an event or period without providing the viewer with specific his- torical documentation. although the historical chronicle was developing as a literary genre in Serbia in the four- teenth century, there is no documentation indicating that an illustrated chronicle of the period of the Battle of Ko- sovo ever existed. Therefore, what contemporary medi- eval monuments offered in the field of visual art was a clear departure from the physical actuality; by means of artistic concepts and imagination, one achieves an insight into a realm where ideas rule supreme. at the same time, the lack of an iconographically standardized cycle of Ko- sovo themes during the Middle ages48 opened up possi- bilities unencumbered by visual tradition for the Serbian artists of the modern era.49
The historical gap which separates the actual date of the Battle of Kosovo (1389) and the first known represen- tation of the event in Serbian art (1771–76) results from historical circumstances. When the medieval Serbian state lost its independence after the Ottoman conquest (1459), great political and sociological changes occurred. The members of the feudal class were either destroyed or dis- placed by emigration. The church, too, lost de facto its na- tional independence when, after the death of the Serbian Patriarch arsenije iii in 1463, his seat was left vacant. The
47 j. Maksimović, Srpske srednjevekovne minijature, 1983, fol. 191, fig. 70; fol. 191v, fig. 68; Patriarch Danilo iii described in his already mentioned Povesno slovo o knezu Lazaru, how his body was moved from Kosovo and where, and who accompanied its departure and who received it. as quoted in: Intervju, 4., (28. july 1988):61.
48 it is also worth mentioning a very large illustrated chronicle covering the history from the creation of the world to the time of ivan iV (ivan the Terrible [1533–1570]), commissioned by that tsar (Ostermann’s Codex). it has nine drawings depicting the events as- sociated with the Battle of Kosovo. Since a codex of this nature did not have a wide circulation, its images had no way of influencing the evolution of the Kosovo themes in Serbian art. Sretan Petković, “ivan Grozni i kult kneza Lazara u Rusiji,” O knezu Lazaru, Naučni Skup u Kruševcu 1971 (Belgrade, 1975), pp. 313–14.
49 it is believed that the oldest preserved representation of epi- sodes from the Battle of Kosovo comes from a brass plate now in the City Museum of Šibenik, executed by Oratio Fortezza ca. 1570. in three oval frames in the center of the plate, Fortezza engraved three crucial episodes: the Feast of Prince Lazar, Miloš Obilić killing Mu- rad, and the Death of Miloš. an accompanying Latin text explains each scene. See. jevtić (ed.), Zadužbine Kosova, figures on page 563.
Miloš Obilić depicted as a Saint, exonarthex, Hilandar, 1803
ecclesiastical center in Ohrid subordinated the Serbian independent church and started replacing Serbian church- men with Greek clergy. The uneducated masses of peo- ple, thus, became virtual slaves of the Ottoman conquer- ors. Consequently, cultural life was diminished although not totally extinguished. Various artistic manifestations lost their most powerful donors: the ruling family, the no- bles, and the prosperous national church.
Those monuments built during the sixteenth and sev- enteenth centuries were on a scale much smaller than their medieval counterparts and resulted from a collective kti- torship of villagers and monks or priests. as might be expected, such monuments were tradition-bound and introspective.50 in the iconographic programs of these churches, historical compositions depicting the national past had no place. Only portraits of Prince Lazar and oth- er individual participants of the Battle of Kosovo found places among the saints; thus they became popularly sanc- tified. The representation of Miloš Obilić provides an example of this tradition.51 a new national art emerged only after politically tragic events at the end of the seven- teenth century caused the great migration of the Serbian people from their ancient heartlands to the regions be- yond the Sava and Danube rivers and into the domain of the Habsburg monarchy. There, under new political cir- cumstances and religious leadership, new art forms and new subjects were introduced into the art sponsored by and made for the Serbs.
50 Vladimir R. Petković, Pregled crkvenih spomenika kroz povesn- icu srpskog naroda (Belgrade, 1950), s n
51 Rade Mihaljčić, “The Historical Role of the Motif of Heroism,” Homeland, Nos. 344–47 (1989):23–25, and fig. on page 24 also, Kosov- ska Bitka: mit, legenda i stvarnost, p. 22, where a list of monuments is given in which “portraits” of Miloš Obilić are represented and des- ignated as “sveti” (holy) by inscription.
The Battle of Kosovo (1389) and Battle Themes in Serbian art

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