Russia’s vast artistic heritage contains many surprises. One of the more exotic is the ancient metalwork of Georgia. Georgia, spanning that area of Asia Miner between the Black Sea and the Caspian, was crossed by ancient trading routes from the Western world to the East. As a result, its people came Int° contact with many different artistic traditions — Hellenistic, Byzantine, Islamic, Oriental—which stimulated their creative output. Although nourished by these outside influences, Georgian art never-theless developed with a unique character of its own, and Georgian metalwork in particular is an important contribution to man’s artistic achievement.
The author traces the development of Georgian metalwork from earliest times to the 18th century. The art reached its peak towards the end of the 12th century, during the age of the two great goldsmiths, Beka and Beshken Opizari; Beka was so skilful that his contemporaries called him a “gold sculptor’ rather than goldsmith.
The 109 illustrations in this book, all in colour, have been specially photographed by the Czech photographer, Karel Neubert. The objects, most of which are little known in the West, are mainly in the Georgian Museum of Fine Art and the Georgian Historical Museum, both in Tbilisi (the capital of the Soviet republic of Georgia). They include icons and crosses, items of domestic silver, jewellery, buckles and medallions, many of which are lavishly decorated with semi-precious stones, pearls, enamels and filigree work. Among the finest pieces are a silver goblet from Trialeti, the temple pendants from the Akhalgori hoard, Queen Tamara’s cross from Khobi and the famous Khakhuli Triptych.
The richness and originality of these objects reveal the extraordinary creative vigour which characterises the great tradition of Georgian metalwork.
Professor Amiranashvili is Director of the Museum of Fine Art in Tbilisi and Professer of the History of Art at the city’s university. He has written many authoritative works on the art of Georgia, some of which are listed in the bibliography of this book.
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