Cilician School

Cilician School


a school of Armenian miniature painting which developed in the Cilician Armenian state from the second half of the 12th to the 14th century. Originally the style of the Cilician school was based on indigenous Armenian traditions of miniature painting, influenced by contemporary Byzantine and Western European painting. The major centers of the Cilician school were the Romkla, Grner, and Drazark monasteries.

The Cilician school developed several elements of manuscript design (Gospel manuscripts). These elements were the arched design over the canon tables, marginals (indicating the paragraphs and chapters of the text), capital letters, and topical illustrations. The early miniatures of the Cilician school, from the second half of the 12th century, are distinguished by the cumbersome architectural forms of the arched design over the canon tables, profuse ornamentation (primarily geometric forms or palmettes), and warm, subdued tones. The school reached its height in the second half of the 13th century. The outstanding artist was Toros Roslin. Miniatures of this period are characterized by a wealth of ornamental forms, including representations of birds, animals, and human figures. They are also noted for virtuoso and dynamic drawing and striking colors accentuated by gold. Many of the miniatures are strikingly emotional individualized portraits which were to a large extent executed according to the tastes of the local aristocracy.

At the beginning of the 14th century the Cilician school began to decline. Fourteenth-century miniatures have overly refined lines, an obtrusive abundance of gold, and a loss of the emotional expressiveness in the figures. The last well-known artist of the Cilician school was Sarkis Pitsak. The traditions of the school were preserved in Armenian miniature painting until the end of the 18th century.


Armianskaia miniatiura Drevnei Armenii. Introductory article by L. Durnovo. Yerevan, 1969. (In Russian, Armenian, English, and French.)
Miniatures arméniennes. Edited by L. A. Dournovo. Paris, 1960.
Azarian, L. R. Kililiiskaia miniatiura 12–13 vv. Yerevan, 1964. (In Armenian.)