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Mosaics from Ravenna

From May 8 to July 27, 2008

Thorvaldsens Museum’s visitors got a close-up view of the world-famous mosaics from the legendary churches in Ravenna when the museum showed a large selection of copies of the mosaics.

Treasures of world culture

The Italian town of Ravenna is famous for its incredible churches and mosaics from the 5th and 6th centuries. During this period, the town was a political and religious centre of the West Roman Empire, and today, seven of the town’s churches and baptisteries are in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, the most important cultural treasures in the world.

The Exhibition is a great opportunity!

The original mosaics are placed high up on the walls and vaults of the churches, whereas the copies in the Thorvaldsens Museum exhibition were down at eye level, and could be studied at close quarters in all their splendid wealth of colour and detail. The mosaics portray animals and plants, scenes from the New and Old Testaments, and they also include portraits of the famous Emperor Justinian and his wife, the Empress Theodora and their court.

A World-Wide Success

The copies on show derive from the 1950s, when, against the background of the destruction wrought by the Second World War, the Ravenna academy of fine arts made a series of exact copies of the artistically most valuable of the mosaics. The copies were made using the same kind of tesserae and precisely the same technique as the late antique mosaics. These mosaics have toured the world with great success, and they could be seen in Thorvaldsens Museum from May to July, 2008, thanks to collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in Copenhagen. The exhibition is the first in a series of events that during this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the Institute.

The exhibition was arranged by curator William Gelius.

Ravenna Emperor Justinian in the Basilica of
San Vitale.

Ravenna Heron and tortoise in the Basilica of
San Vitale.

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