And the Sea Gave Up the Dead

William Blake Richmond1891/1904

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul's Cathedral

Opaque glass mosaic, designed by William Blake Richmond, executed by Messrs Powell of Whitefriars, installed by 1896

This mosaic, which has a counterpart on the other side of the apse echoes the processions of saints depicted on Byzantine mosaics, for example in Ravenna. Like the earlier examples, this procession serves to direct the visitors’ gaze towards the image of The Risen Christ in Glory. The near-identical female Figures, waves and gestures flow, even the golden background is laid in shell-shaped arcs to add to the flowing movement towards the centre of the apse.

Brief description: located on the north side of the apse, depicting a procession of female figures in classical dress; all with raised arms and open golden hair, a sense of group movement towards the apse;

Analysis and comparisons: possibly ancient sources fused with depictions of processions of saints in Byzantine mosaics

Related quotes:

Revelation 20:13: “And the sea gave up its dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.” (RSV)

Browne 1896, p. 8: “The elongated form of the upper of these, which correspond to the dark-story or triforium of a Gothic church, naturally suggested something of the nature of a procession, or a row of figures. The subject adopted is the sea giving up its dead (Revelation xx.13), still in connection with the subject of the apse roof.”

Related work elsewhere: Mosaic of Procession of the Saints and Procession of the Holy Virgins, Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, 6th century AD. This monumental mosaic cycle must have served as inspiration and is also characterised by uniform series of figures shown in movement towards the apse of the church

Literature and references: Browne 1896, 8; Zech 2015, p. 48.

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