Prof. Dr. Josip Belamarić

Professore invitato

Josip (Joško) Belamarić received his MA and PhD degrees from the University of Zagreb, where he studied Art History and Musicology. In 1979 he began working for the monument protection services in Split, and between 1991 and 2009 he served as the director of the Regional Office for Monument Protection. Since 2010 he has been the head of the newly established Cvito Fisković Center at the Institute of Art History in Split. He is also a professor at the Department of Art History, University of Split. He has published a number of books, studies and articles on the history of art, architecture and urbanism of early modern Dalmatia, and also edited number of exhibitions. He has directed conservation works in Dalmatia and held the offices of the president of the Croatian Association of Conservators. He was Robert Lehman Visiting Professor at the Villa I Tatti in Florence (2016) and the Research Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2017–2018).

His recent publications include books: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Art History in the Adrtiatic, vol II, Split 2012; Stone of the Eastern Adriatic, Split 2016; Sphinx on the Peristyle of Diocletian's Palace, Zagreb 2017; Transformation of the Zadar Forum - Continuity in Changes, Zagreb 2019 (forthcoming in May). Some recent articles: The Incarnate in the Evangelistarium Traguriense from Trogir Chapter Archive , in: Inkarnat und Signifikanz – Das menschliche Abbild in der Tafelmalerei von 200 bis 1250 im Mittelmeerraum (ISIMAT), München 2017; Marian shrines along the Dalmatian coast in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period, in: The Ways of the Misericordia: Arts, Culture and Marian religious paths between East and West, ed. by Maria Stella Calò Mariani and Anna Trono, Galatina (Le) 2017; Robert Adam's Lesson of Split, in: Robert Adam and Diocletian's Palace in Split, ed. by J. Belamarić and A. Šverko, Zagreb 2017; Split Peristyle - a Monumental Symbol of the old and new World in theirs Genetic Linkage, in: Mapping Urban Changes, ed. by Ana Plosnić Škarić, Zagreb-Dubrovnik 2018; The Villa in Renaissance Dubrovnik - ars ubi naturam perfecit apta rudem (where art has tamed the wild nature), in: From Riverbed to Seashore. Art on the Move in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean in the Early Modern Period, ed. by Alina Payne, Los Angeles 2019 (forthcoming).

The Conversion of Diocletian's Mausoleum in Split into a Christian Church

The metamorphosis of the imperial palace into a populated city seems to us today to have happened instantaneously, suddenly, like a miracle; yet in fact it took place slowly and gradually, from the first day of its creation. The reckoning with mementoes of Diocletian in Split was systematic. By an irony of history, the mausoleum of the most ardent persecutor of the Christians was transformed into a church, and in the mid–7th century into a cathedral, dedicated to St Doimus, a bishop executed during the persecutions of 304.

During my sojourn at the Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz, my plan is to round off my study of the circumstances in which such a conversion occurred. I argue that it happened as early as the beginning of 5th century, which would be one of the first direct conversions of that sort in general. The clash with memories of Diocletian is perhaps best explained by the remains of his sarcophagus, discovered a year ago, in an investigation of the mausoleum's opus sectile pavement. Hundreds of tiny splinters of porphyry show that it was smashed in true anger. These findings definitively refute the thesis that prevailed until recently in scholarly literature, that Diocletian's sarcophagus must originally have been placed in the crypt of the mausoleum. The mosaic (whose existence can finally be proved) was removed from the dome, perhaps at the same time.

The Split palace saw other kings and emperors after Diocletian: Galla Placidia and her underaged son Valentinian III, as early as 425/6; in 461 Marcellinus lived here, proclaiming himself king of Dalmatia. Then the deposed Glycerius, who was forced to take orders and become Bishop of Salona in 474, only a year after being proclaimed emperor in Ravenna. Julius Nepos, the last emperor of the Western Empire, ended his days in the Split palace in 480 AD, assassinated by two of his courtiers. All should have represented themselves In accordance with their aspirations, in the heart of the imperial palace, and with all the pious pomp the era prescribed.


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