Many of the richest collections of Roman/Byzantine mosaics are found in Italy. The most famous of these mosaics are arguably found in the many churches of Ravenna. There you will find Justinian, the ‘poster boy’ of Byzantium (with his Ravenna mosaic plastered on more history book covers than any other) and his wife Theodore, suspended high on the walls of the San Vitale. We have no doubt that Justinian would have employed Greek-speaking artists and craftsmen, to tackle the intricate and painstaking details of his mosaic and a number of others too. The same could be arguably said of the mosaics commissioned in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, which appear to be also associated with Byzantine artistic achievement.

Magnificently suspended on the lunette over the north entrance, The Christ as the Good Shepherd, is one of the finest mosaics from the second quarter of the fifth century. In golden robes and with a golden halo and cross, Christ sits as a humble shepherd looking after his flock. Interestingly, Christ is beardless, a lot like the Christ as Helios mosaic. The illusionism of the mosaic is absolutely breathtaking and powerful.

Posted by Robert Horvat

Robert Horvat is a Melbourne based blogger. He believes that the world is round and that art is one of our most important treasures. He has seen far too many classic films and believes coffee runs through his veins. As a student of history, he favours ancient and medieval history. Music pretty much rules his life and inspires his moods. Favourite artists include The Beatles, Pearl Jam, Garbage and Lana Del Rey.

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