Throne of Maximian, Ravenna, Italy, ca 545-553 AD
This unused postcard was found in the gift shop of the Museo Arcivescovile di Ravenna, Italia. The card is distributed by Opera di Religione, Della Diocesi di Ravenna. The museum was one of the places we visited while in Ravenna, Italy. No photographs were allowed in the museum so I was pleased to find a few postcards in the shop.
Described as the most precious relic of the museum, the ivory throne was made for Archibishop Maximianus of Ravenna, who served as bishop in the mid 6th century, and gifted to him by Justinian I. The throne is an example of early Christian Byzantine art and is dated between 545 and 553 AD. It is made of carved ivory panels set on a wooden frame. Originally there were 24 panels of which 16 have been restored. Missing panels have been replaced by blank spaces. Each panel has relief scenes of important Biblical figures. For example the back of the throne contains scenes from the Life of Christ. Other panels have scenes from the Book of Genesis, the story of Joseph, and John the Baptist. Because two different types of techniques were used on the panels it is thought that two to four artists probably worked on the throne; possibly because the principal master may have died before the piece was completed.
Some believed that the throne was not meant for the personal use of the bishop but was a symbol of imperial or divine power. It was carried during religious ceremonies. The decorative carvings on the back side of the throne suggest that it was designed to be moved out of the apse and placed so that the back was visible to the congregation and not always placed against a wall. How big is the throne? It is about the size of a small chair, 22 inches or 0.6 m wide by 4 feet 11 inches or 1.5 meters high. It is displayed in a glass case and can be viewed from all sides.
Ravenna was at that time the western capital of the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. Maximian was a protégé of Justinian I and may have acted as regent for the Emperor as well as the bishop.
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