Mosaic “Themis“ in Sofia Court House
Sofia Court House
The mosaic “Themis“ is part of the larger decorative plan for the Sofia Court House. The building is a monumental ensemble decorated by the artists Dechko Uzunov and Ivan Penkov. Ivan Penkov created the project for the mosaic in 1939, and the Berlin-based company “August Vagner” received the commission for it. However, they did not complete the mosaic until 1941. The mosaic embodies the artist’s personal style as well as artistic tendencies in the 1930s in both execution of form and visual message. During this period, the country’s economy became more stable, and the construction of administrative buildings became more of a priority, thus naturally creating a need for large-scale decoration.
The mosaic “Themis“ by Ivan Penkov, 1941
The “Themis” mosaic is thematically connected to the function of the courthouse. Ivan Penkov’s tendency for laconic and schematic images aligned well with the specifics of the mosaic technique. His composition is symmetric and holds heraldic meaning. This is not the artist’s first reflection on justice and law. He chose Themis – the ancient Greek goddess of justice, divine order, and law – as the centerpiece for his impressive mosaic. He depicts her with her typical attributes: she is a blindfolded woman holding scales in one hand and a sword in the other. Her figure is flanked by two lions and fortress towers above in the background, which symbolize the medieval Bulgarian kingdom. The location of the mosaic in an alcove creates a sense of depth and correlates well with the surrounding architectural space. Themis’ golden background underscores the idea that the concepts she represents are both eternal and powerful.
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