Istrian frescoes: The Church of St. Mary on Škriljinah, Beram
The Dance of Death is the most famous Istrian fresco located in the picturesque Church of St. Mary on Škriljinah in Beram.
The Church of St. Mary on Škriljinah is a Gothic church with a portico, a bell gable and a wooden tabulate added. In the church interior there is the Dance of Death scene, one of the most well-known series of frescoes and, along with the Arena in Pula and Euphrasian Basilica, the most recognizable cultural monument of Istria. Frescoes were finished in 1474 by the workshop of Master Vincent from Kastav, of which there is a Latin inscription depicted on the south wall.
Although Vincent was the main painter in the Church of St. Mary on Škriljanah, Beram frescoes were the work of several artists. He was helped by two other painters, of whom one is the author of the famous Dance of Death, and the other painted the image of St. Martin the horseman, who cuts a piece of his luxurious cloak giving it to a freezing, bare and poor passer-by in order to wrap himself in it. The impressive Adoration of the Magi, the scene filling the entire upper part of the north wall, is the most valuable work by Vincent.
The first scene the visitor sees upon his/her entrance is an unusual representation of a fool. When the eye becomes accustomed to the unlit interior after a few moments, the figures of saints pop out in the field framed by a wine of acathus leaves as in a puppet theatre. Scenes from the life of Mary and Christ are intertwined with the scenes of saints. The Dance of Death is most attractive for visitors on the west wall. One of the oldest preserved representations of this theme, the teaching representation of death in those times which treats us all equally and from which no one can escape, was painted after the epidemics of bubonic plaque. Along with the dancing dead, the pope, the cardinal and the bishop, the king and the queen, a fat innkeeper, a child, a beggar and a soldier whose robust armour cannot help, and finally a trader who is not successful in bribing death with gold ducats move toward the open grave in a silent procession. The dancing skeletons move along the rhythm set by the death itself by playing the bagpipes.
How to get there:
Beram is located 5 kilometres from Pazin, on the Pazin-Poreč road. The Parish Church of St. Martin is in the centre of the village. The Church of St. Mary on Škriljinah is one km northeast from Beram.
The key is kept by Sonja Šestan
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