Historical region of the northern Balkans which, together with the territories of Slavonia, Dalmatia and the Istrian peninsula, is part of the republic of the same name, until 1991 included in the Yugoslav confederation and today independent. Slovenia, to the NE with Hungary, to the East with Vojvodina and Serbia, to the SE with Bosnia-Herzegovina, to the South with Montenegro and to the SW with the Adriatic Sea, do not correspond to those that the Croatian kingdom had reached in ’11th century. The first nucleus of the Croatian state was formed in the hinterland of the ancient Roman province of Dalmatia, corresponding to the ods. regions of Dalmatia and Lika, after the beginning of the century. 9 ° the Croats had subjugated the Slavic populations that from the sec. 7th had settled there. In the century 9 ° the Duchy of Croatia was formed, which was recognized both by Constantinople and by the Roman Church in 879, at the time of Duke Branimiro; Croatia became a kingdom in 925 and extended its influence to the course of the Drava, including other Slavic tribes within the new frontiers; the eastern borders towards Bosnia instead underwent continuous changes during the Middle Ages. From 1102 until 1526 the Croatian kingdom became an integral part of the kingdom of Hungary.
According to Countries and Shipping Rates, the current borders of Dalmatia (Serbo-Croatian Dalmacija), a coastal region of the middle Adriatic almost entirely included in the current Croatia, correspond to the territory that the republic of Venice acquired in 1718 after the wars against the Turks, including the ancient city of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) and its surroundings. Following the invasions of the Avars and Slavs, only a few maritime and island towns in the Roman province of Dalmatia – Osero (Osor), Veglia (Crk), Arbe (Rab), Zadar (Zadar), Trogir (Trogir), Split (Split), Dubrovnik and Cattaro (Kotor) – remained under Byzantine control; in the hinterland the Slavic populations, immigrated in the century. 7th, formed some small states, the largest of which was the Croatian one. Starting from the sec. 12 ° the coastal centers – to which the islands of Lesina (Hvar) and Korčula (Kurčula) joined – and later the city of Sibenik (Šibenik) became free municipalities under the protection of the Hungarian-Croatian kings and operated continuously fight with Venice, to which they were subjected in various periods. Between 1409 and 1420 the Venetians definitively took possession of the coastal strip (with the exception of Dubrovnik), which they held until 1797. The trade and political contacts established by the Dalmatian cities with various Italian centers and the Mediterranean basin during the Middle Ages they formed the premise for a profound influence also on artistic production.
As for the early Christian era, the remains of the urban basilicas and cemetery of Salona (Solin) – a city of Roman origin destroyed in 614 – show a wide typological variety (eg the double cathedral, 4th-6th century; S. Anastasio in Salona-Marusinac, approx. 426). In Zadar, however, three basilicas of the century have been archaeologically investigated. 5th; under the Romanesque cathedral, in addition to the remains of mosaic floors, the foundations of an apse that belonged to an early Christian building were also found, next to which the hexagonal baptistery was located, internally marked by six large niches and covered by a vault hexapartita. Of the basilica dedicated to s. Tommaso has maintained the architectural layout, while the basilica of S. Stefano (od. S. Simeone) retains part of the system of columns with relative arches and a side with windows. Early medieval religious buildings spread in Dalmatia typologies that have no comparison in other European regions; among the examples of monumental architecture of the Carolingian age, the rotunda of S. Donato in Zara (early 9th century) stands out, which is the result, in original forms, of a variation of the central plan model with double envelope. Among the churches of modest size and a circular hexaconch plan, which must have formed a rather large group, the only one preserved is the Holy Trinity in Split. In southern Dalmatia, on the other hand, there is a type of small oblong church, with a nave, covered by barrel vaults with a dome in the center, of which the most representative example is the St. Peter in Omiš. there is no shortage of religious buildings directly influenced by Carolingian architecture, which however have their own peculiarities in the plan – with one or three naves – and in the use of cylindrical buttresses: for example. the church of the Savior at the source of the Cetina river or the remains of the church in Biskupija near Knin. The stone liturgical furnishings show, in the characteristic reliefs, stringent affinities with the production of northern Italy of the Lombard age, although in the choice of the ornamental repertoire they reveal original formulations; sometimes it is also possible to reconstruct the activity of some shops. To the sec. 8 ° we can assign the fragments discovered in the Zadar cathedral (Zara, Arheološki muz.), Similar to the manner of the Sigualdo slab in the Callisto baptistery in Cividale (Mus. Cristiano). The greatest number of artifacts belong to the following century, the dating of which is anchored to the names of the Croatian dukes reported in the inscriptions; of notable interest is a group of sculptures from Kotor and its surroundings – eg. a fragment of a ciborium (perhaps from S. Maria in Fiumara) currently preserved in the sacristy of the cathedral of S. Trifone in Cattaro, Montenegro -, attributable to the mid-9th century. Among the goldsmith’s works of particular interest are the reliquaries of Carolingian age, embossed, preserved in Nona (Nin; Riznica župne crkve), and a censer found in Vrlika, imported from the Rhine (Spalato, Muz.hrvatskih arheolŏskih spomenika; Vinski-Gasparini, 1958). The female funerary objects found in the excavations of the paleochroate necropolises are mostly made up of jewels produced by local workshops influenced by Byzantine goldsmithing, while spurs and swords of Carolingian manufacture come from male burials (Split, Muz. Hrvatskih arheoloških spomenika). rather restricted to the proto-Romanesque architecture, some Benedictine abbeys can be distinguished; they are modest basilicas with three apsed aisles, modeled on the model of the church of St. Peter in Supertarska Draga on the island of Rab. In the first half of the century. 11 ° two small churches were built in Zadar, with three naves and covered with vaults, dedicated to s. Sunday (now missing) and to s. Lorenzo; almost identical to the first, but larger in size, was the church of Saints Peter and Moses in Salona, came to light during the archaeological campaigns of the thirties. Plutei of considerable interest come from the Zadar churches, with Christological scenes of great originality compared to the contemporary European plastic repertoire (plutei from S. Domenica; Zara, Arheološki muz.); a group of artefacts very similar to those of Zadar was reused in the font of the baptistery in Spalato, where there are also pre-Romanesque slabs found in the excavations of Saints Peter and Moses in Salona.
In the late century 11th are the frescoes in the church of St. Michael in Stagno (Ston), in the Dubrovnik region, where some saints and a king bearing the model of the religious building are represented, following Western models. Contemporary, but openly byzantine style, are the mural paintings discovered in Dubrovnik (remains of the primitive cathedral) and in the church of St. John on the island of Lopud. To the secc. 11th and 12th are three reliquaries worked with embossed technique, two of which, the case of s. Oronzo and the capsella of s. Giacomo, preserved in Zadar (cathedral treasure) and in Nona (Riznica župne crkve). 12 ° was distinguished above all by an intense building activity that involved the whole of Dalmatia. In Zara, next to the Benedictine church of S. Maria Minore (1105), the bell tower and the chapter house with notched cube capitals were built by the abbess Vichenega (1111 ca.); moreover, the construction sites of the abbey of S. Crisogono, consecrated in 1175, and of the new cathedral of S. Anastasia, erected on the ruins of the early Christian basilica of the century, began. 5th; in Arbe the façades and bell towers of the cathedral of S. Maria and the Benedictine abbeys of S. Andrea and S. Pietro were raised, while the church of S. Giovanni Evangelista was also equipped with a choir with ambulatory; in Veglia the S. Michele (beginning of the 12th century) and the cathedral were built and in front of the latter the church of S. Quirino (beginning of the 13th century), with two floors, of which the upper one retains the three naves divided by columns with cubic capitals. A system of Romanesque cross vaults supported by large ribs was inserted in the bell tower of S. Maria Minore in Zara and in the lower floor of S. Quirino in Veglia; identical roofs are found in two small extra-urban churches with a triconic structure: S. Nicolò near Nona and S. Crisogono on the island of Veglia. The front of the Zadar cathedral, organized on four orders of blind arches, clearly evident influences of Pisan architecture. Always in the sec. 12th the bishop’s churches of Dubrovnik and Cattaro were built, not immune from dependencies with the Romanesque architecture of southern Italy, and single-nave church buildings surmounted by a dome such as the church of St. Mary on the island of Mljet (Mljet) and S. Luca in Cattaro. During the thirteenth century the extension of the cathedral of Zara was carried out and its facade was recomposed with the addition of new elements in the portals; the works were completed only in 1324. In 1213 the construction of the cathedral of Traù was already at an advanced stage, with a basilical plan marked by mighty pillars; on the outside, the ornamentation is rather modest, with the exception of the main portal. In the same years, a large part of the cathedral bell tower was erected in Split, richly decorated with architectural sculptural elements. 12 ° is mainly preserved in Zadar (cathedral of St. Anastasia; Arheološki muz.) And in Dubrovnik (Dubrovački muz.); in the thirteenth century, however, Traù stands out with the portal of the cathedral: the lunette and the jambs are the work of the sculptor Radovan, close to the ways of the antelamic current, and are dated by an inscription to 1240. Far from the manner of Radovan, but still of good workmanship, are two bas-reliefs with the Annunciation and the Nativity walled up on the ground floor of the bell tower of the cathedral of Split; a third, the work of magister Otto, is instead of a more primitive workmanship. A workshop of artists active in orbit of Radovan sculpted the pulpits for the cathedrals of Split and Trogir, also making the ciborium for the latter. The wooden doors of the main door with episodes from the Life of Christ, worked by Andrea Buvina in 1214, and the 13th-century choir stalls are preserved in the cathedral of Split.The oldest remnant of Romanesque wall painting in Dalmatia dates back to the beginning of the century.. 12 ° and is kept in the chapel obtained at the base of the bell tower of S. Maria Minore in Zara; it reveals openly western stylistic features, such as to be similar to the contemporary Lombard production. The frescoes preserved in another church in Zadar, that of S. Crisogono, present two superimposed phases: in the first, dated to 1175, reflections of Cassinese painting are captured, while the second, attributable to the beginning of the century. 13th, shows Venetian-Byzantine characteristics. The paintings in the side apses of the cathedral of Zara, also linked to the Veneto-Byzantine current, are to be placed around 1285, when the church was rededicated after the extension took place; the frescoes on the counter-façade are from 1324, contemporary to the construction of the main portal. The fresco depicting the Déesis in the rural church in Donji Humac on the island of Brač, on the other hand, reveals influences from the Basilian pictorial culture. Also worth mentioning are two Crucifixions and three panels representing the Madonna and Child (Zara, Stalna izložba crkvene umjetnosti; Riznica samostana svetog Frane; church of S. Michele), works to be related to the Venetian production documented between the 12th and the early 14th century. There are numerous Romanesque goldsmith artifacts in Dalmatia: three covered with silver codices with chiseled images are preserved in Split (Riznika katedrale) and in Trogir (Riznika Trogirske Katedrale i Pinacoteka Zbirka Crkvene Umjetnosti); the silver reliquaries of s. Gregory (Zadar, Stalna izložba crkvene umjetnosti) and of s. Christopher (Rab, treasury of the cathedral) show embossed figured compositions. In addition, the reliquary of St. Isidore in the form of an arm (Zara, treasure of the cathedral) is decorated with arabesques in filigree and semiprecious stones; more representative is the reliquary of s. Blaise in Dubrovnik (Riznika katedrale), with figures of saints in enamel, filigree and precious stones. Gothic architecture was introduced in Dalmatia in the second half of the 13th century and manifested itself, in very small forms, especially in the Franciscan and Dominican churches, all with halls, vaulted exclusively in the presbytery, equipped with simple ogival windows and a modest decorative apparatus on the portals (e.g. the Dominican churches in Trogir and Dubrovnik)., while among the paintings on wood there is a limited number of valuable works, all attributed to the hand of Paolo Veneziano and to his workshop: the Polyptych of s. Lucia in Veglia (chancellery of the bishopric), the crucifix of the church of St. Dominic in Dubrovnik and a Madonna and Child (formerly in Zadar). The activity of many local and foreign goldsmiths in the region is known from the archive sources; chalices, crosses and reliquaries are largely preserved in diocesan treasures: the most representative work is the ark of s. Simeone (Zara, S. Simeone),