The Mystery of the Marble Man and his Hat: A Reconsideration of the Bari Episcopal Throne


The iconographic program of the episcopal throne in the basilica of San Nicola inBari,Italy, has proven tenaciously enigmatic, particularly on account of the central figure on the throne’s base, whose identity has so far eluded scholars. The author reinterprets the Bari throne in light of late eleventh-century ecclesiastical politics, notes artistic echoes within the Adriatic, and demonstrates the crucial importance of contemporary Fatimid art to an understanding of the central figure, who was likely intended to represent a Muslim. The throne is thus reconceived as the expression of a dialogue between a crusading pope and a consolidating prelate, as a response to the social upheaval prompted by the Norman conquest of southernItaly, and as new evidence for cross-Mediterranean cultural contacts at the dawn of the Crusades.


Last updated on 12/07/2012