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The Angel of Kurbinovo--The Dawn of European Renaissance.

Three kilometers of the Prespa village of Kurbinovo, in the bosoms of Mount Baba, is the church of St. George, the pearl of medieval fresco painting in Macedonia, on whose wall the oldest Macedonian fresco--the Angel of Kurbinovo--was painted.

The church was built of stone in 1191 under Byzantine Rule, along the Via Egnatia route. This single-nave church being seven meters wide and eleven meters long with one-meter thick walls is one of Macedonia's most significant medieval monuments.

St. George's fresco painting is what makes this temple one of the most impressive churches from the time of the rule of the Komnenos Dynasty of Byzantine Emperors. The frescos were painted with a superb technique, masterfully adapted to the space and incorporating all traditional matrixes of fresco painting. Particularly remarkable are the altar frescos showing human figures arranged in immaculately balanced scenes. The figures represent St. Archangel Michael and St. Archangel Gavril, also known as the Angel of Kurbinovo (shown on the 50-denar banknotes).

The two doctoral theses written about the fresco painting of this church, one of them being authored by Lydie Hadermann-Misguich of the Netherlands, say that with playful strokes of the brush and through a multitude of gowns, the unknown masters depicted very realistic figures, creating a special rhythm and vibrancy that had never been seen before. The wavy folds of the gowns follow the body lines of the elongated figures, making them light, live and very much present.

The fresco painting of the Church of St. George in Kurbinovo is of the same rank as the frescos of the Church of St. Pantelejmon in the Skopje village of Gorno Nerezi of 1164.

According to scholars, the frescos of Kurbinovo made a remarkable contribution to fresco painting, especially to the ways of painting drapes."The playful, overlapping, and bouncy folds and creases of the drapes of some of the figures in these frescoes are so masterfully painted that they represent an end in itself and are the most prominent feature of the whole scene. In some of the frescos, stress is laid on the slenderness of the figures, which resemble those to be found later in the paintings of such masters of the early and full Renaissance as Botticelli and El Greco."

In comparison with the frescos of the other churches of this period, the ones in Kurbinovo are livelier and with higher color refinement. Several masters worked on the frescos. However, it was the main master, who probably cooperated with the fresco painters of Nerezi, that is presumed to have set the dominant tone. The Annunciation and Jesus Christ on the southern wall are some of the most beautiful creations of mediaeval fresco painting in Macedonia.

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Publication:Macedonian Diplomatic Bulletin
Geographic Code:4EXMA
Date:Jun 1, 2013
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