June/July/Aug 2007

Dynamic Splendor: The Wall Mosaics in the Cathedral of Eufrasius at Porec

Eric Banks

“Any mosaic that has survived from the sixth century is treasured,” the authors of Dynamic Splendor aver, in great understatement. What the marvelous two-volume monograph plunders is more than treasure, of course—for it tells in remarkable detail the story of the mosaics in the basilica of Eufrasius at Porecˇ, in the former Yugoslavia. Only Ravenna rivals Porecˇ as an extant example of early–Middle Ages church architecture, and the first volume of Dynamic Splendor wastes no space in describing everything about this two-thousand-year-old Croatian site, from its geographic setting and ecclesiastical significance to the philosophy of restoration in the nineteenth century. For readers less interested in art history, volume 2 is pure eye candy, comprising image after wondrous image of every nook and cranny within and without the cathedral. At a time when many academic publishers speculate about the demise of the art-history monograph, Dynamic Splendor is a welcome retort about what would be lost without the commitment of university presses to rigorous and elegant scholarship.