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Post-Byzantine Art
Romania, Humor Monastery

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(Stephen the Great)
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(Voronet)
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(Sucevita)
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(Moldovita)
This Page
(Humor)

In spring 2001 I received this lovely pictorial postcard from a friend living in the Moldavia-area in Romania, showing the Humor Monastery.  Although there are no stamps issued about this monastery I have chosen to show the card here, since the complex certainly belongs to the group of painted monasteries.

Romania. Post-Byzantine Art. Postcard showing Humor Monastery.

The outdoor frescoes were painted in 1535 by Toma of Suceava, the most famous church painter of the time.  The  prevailing hues are reddish brown (from oriental madder pigment), but rich blues and greens also appear. 

"The Last Judgment" on the wall beneath the unusual open porch is similar to that at Voronet, with the significant difference that the Devil is portrayed as the Scarlet Woman, though this patch is now so faint, that it has become nearly invisible.  Such misogyny had its counterpart in the peasant conception of Hell, assumed to be a cavern upheld by seven old women who had surpassed Satan in wickedness during their lifetimes.  Since the women are mortal, the legend goes, the Devil (Dracul) must constantly search the world for replacements - and he never fails to find them.

The "Tree of Jesse" along the northern wall has been virtually effaced by weathering, bug restorers are busy touching up the "Hymn to the Virgin" on the south front.  As at Voronet, this depicts her miraculous intervention at the siege of Constantinople by the Persians - although the enemy has been changed into Turks for propaganda purposes.  Morale may have been stiffened, but neither murals nor the stone watchtower added by Basil the Wolf could save Humor from marauding Turks, and the monastery was eventually declared derelict in the eighteenth century.  It is now a small convent - the villagers use another church, on a nearby hillock. 

Sources and links: 

Page 1 
(Stephen the Great)
Page 2
(Voronet)
Page 3
(Sucevita)
Page 4
(Moldovita)
This Page
(Humor)

Back to Byzantine Art and architecture  
Forward to Romanesque Art   


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