Millin e i pavimenti figurati dell’Italia meridionale (secoli XI-XII)

Author: Anna Maria D’Achille

Millin and the Figurative Floors of Southern Italy (11th-12th Centuries)

This article takes into consideration the documentation about some mosaic floors of Southern Italy (Brindisi, Rossano, S. Maria del Patir, Trani, Otranto), collected by Aubin-Louis Millin during his travels through Italy (1811-1813).
The drawings of Brindisi’s cathedral mosaic floor – which was substituted with a new one around the mid-19th century – and the unpu­blished notes taken by Millin while surveying the monument are particularly relevant, because they allow to reconstruct the lost artwork design, together with Schulz’s testimony, at least partially. About the sheet with archbishop Turpin, it is said that Millin probably had a copy made, which he donated to the archbishop of Brindisi, Annibale De Leo, who inserted it in the 18th century manuscript about Brindisi’s cathedral by uncle Ortensio, at the point where the scene is dealt with.
Even the watercolored drawing depicting a fragment of the mosaic floor in the church of Holy Trinity in Rossano (Calabria) – executed by Franz Ludwig Catel – represents the only iconogra­phic testimony known so far of that lost artwork.
Catel also sketched the sheets with the fragments’ location and some details of the floor of S. Maria del Patir abbey-church (already completely abandoned at the time of Millin’s visit), that are here compared with successive testimonies.
Millin just mentioned once the small fragment with Solomon’s figure – the only one visible at that time – in the mosaic floor of Trani’s cathedral; also in this case the statement is important since it can be a new ante quem for the loss of David’s figure.
As regards Otranto’s cathedral floor, the last one seen by Millin during his ‘patrimony survey’, the four sheets by Aveta (with the Ascension of Alexander the Great, King Arthur, the month of July and a particular of October), together with the notes about the description and the transcription of the nave’s epigraphs, are the first documentation of that extraordinary artwork, also representing a fundamental reference in order to evaluate the extent of the following restorations.