Art of the byzantine empire




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ARH 2050: History of Visual Arts I 24 and 29 Oct 2002

Prof. S. Bundrick
ART OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE
Early Byzantine Period (AD 527-726):

Ivory plaque with Justinian as conqueror (Barberini Ivory), mid-6th c. 12.1

Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), 532-537 12.3–12.5

architects: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus

San Vitale, Ravenna, 526-547 12.6–8

Apse mosaic with Christ between angels and saints 12.9

Mosaic with Justinian and attendants 12.10

Mosaic with Theodora and attendants 12.11

Sant’Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, ca.533-549, apse mosaic 12.12

Monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai

Apse mosaic with the Transfiguration of Christ, ca. 565 12.13

Icon with Virgin and Child (Virgin Theotokos), 6th-7th c. 12.15

Rabbula Gospels, from Zagba, Syria, 586, Ascension page 12.14
Middle Byzantine Period (AD 843-1204):

Virgin and Child enthroned, apse mosaic, Hagia Sophia, 12.16

Constantinople, dedicated 867

Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Greece 12.17-12.19

Katholikon (first quarter of 11th c.) and Church of the Theotokos

(10th c.)

Church of the Dormition, Daphni, Greece, ca. 1090-1100

Mosaic with the Crucifixion 12.20

Cathedral of St. Mark, Venice, begun 1063 12.21–12.22 Anastasis mosaic from the west vault, ca. 1180 12.23

St. Pantaleimon, Nerezi, Macedonia, 1164 12.27 Wall painting with lamentation over the dead Christ


Late Byzantine Period (AD 1261-1453):

Church of the Monastery of Christ in Chora, Constantinople (Istanbul)

Apse painting with the Anastasis (Harrowing of Hell), 12.31

ca. 1310-1320

Andrey Rublyov, Icon with three angels visiting Abraham, ca. 1410 12.34
Terms:

diptych pedentive squinch vellum mandorla

Bishop Ecclesius chi-rho iconoclasm Pantokrator iconostasis
BYZANTINE ART NOTES:
-AD 324: Constantine moves capital to east—changes name from Byzantium to Constantinople

-from 5thc : an emperor of the West ruled from Ravenna, and an emperor of the East from C.

-Eastern and Western halves developed their own, essentially separate, complex histories

-Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantine Empire, existed until 1453, when the last of a long line of eastern emperors (Constantine XI) died at Constantinople defending it from the Ottoman Turks

-note that the Byzantine emperors continued to refer to themselves as “Roman”—spoke Greek but never relinquished their claim as legitimate successors of previous Roman emperors

-“the Christian buffer against Islamic expansion”

-Christianized the Slavic peoples of the Balkans and Russia, introducing Orthodox religion
-6th c AD-greatest extant of Eastern empire-includes most of area around Mediterranean, inc. N Africa, Levant, Anatolia, all of Greece, much of Italy, small part of Spain

-AD 476-collapse of the western empire

-AD 1054-Christian Church officially splits into Western (Roman Catholic) and Eastern (Orthodox) Churches-pope heads Roman church; patriarch heads Orthodox Church

-AD 1453-collapse of Byzantine empire-Constantinople becomes Islamic capital under the Ottoman Turks


-Three major productive phases of Byzantine Christian art:

-Early Byzantine Period: first golden age=began with reign of Justinian I and centered on Constantinople; ended when the Iconoclasts rose to power in the Eastern Church (527-726)

-Middle Byzantine Period: second golden age=began in 843 with renunciation of Iconoclasm and ended when Christian Crusaders occupied Constantinople in 1204;

-Late Byzantine: third=from recapture of Constantinople in 1261 until Constantinople was conquered by Ottoman Turks in 1453


-Eastern empire flourished during fifth and sixth centuries

-Byzantine political power, wealth, and culture reached its height under Emperor Justinian I (r. 527-565), seconded by Empress Theodora (c. 500-548)-imperial forces with leadership of general Belisarius recovered northern Africa, Sicily, much of Italy, and part of Spain-Ravenna as administrative capital of Byzantine Italy [most of Italy had fallen to the Ostragoths in 476]

-Justinian began thorough compilation of Roman law-Justinian Code-in order to centralize his government and impose uniform legal system

-Justinian proclaimed Christianity the only lawful religion of the eastern empire: specifically, Orthodox Christianity

-heresies: Arianism: denied the equality of the three aspects of the Trinity

Monophysitism:denied duality of the human and divine natures of Christ


-Byzantine emperors thought of as the earthly vicars of Christ—exercised all temporal and spiritual authority—combined functions of pope and caesar—“theocrat”

-problem: eastern empire was extremely diverse—emperors ran into difficulties trying to impose their version of Orthodox Christianity on everyone


Early Byzantine Period:

Ivory plaque with Justinian as conqueror (Barberini Ivory), mid-6th c. 12.1

-carved in five parts (one now lost)—emperor riding triumphantly on a rearing horse while a barbarian recoils in fear behind him

-twisting pose and motif of equestrian emperor cf. Roman imperial art—also note personifications of Earth and Victory

-tribute bearing and clemency-seeking barbarians at the bottom of the plaque—juxtaposed with a lion, elephant, and tiger, animals native to Africa and Asia, sites of Justinian conquest—at left Roman solder carries statuette of Victory

-uppermost panel: two angels holding a youthful image of Christ carrying a cross—makes it clear that emperor’s power and victories come from God—Christ blesses Justinian with his right hand
Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), 532-537 12.3–12.5

architects: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus

-J. built over 30 churches in Constantinople—reputation as a builder

-built under Justinian-replaced fourth century building erected during reign of Constantine's son and successor in the East, Constantius II, after the old church was destroyed during riots in 532 (Nika revolts)

-dedicated to Holy Wisdom

-Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus were two scholar-theoreticians chosen by Justinian-H. Sophia as embodiment of imperial power and Christian glory-Anthemius was specialist in geometry and optics-Isidorus was a specialist in physics who had studied vaulting-developed daring design

-Procopius wrote that H. Sophia's dome seemed to hang suspended on a "golden chain from Heaven"—mystical usage of light—cf. Pseudo-Dionysius: “Light comes from the Good…and light is the visual image of God”

-Justinian said to have proclaimed: "Solomon, I have outdone you"

-based on central plane with dome inscribed in a square-to form longitudinal nave, conches (semidomes) expand outward from central dome to connect with narthex at one end and sanctuary apse at the other-central core (called naos in Byzantine architecture) is flanked by side aisles-galleries (stories open to and overlooking the naos) are located above the aisles

-main dome supported on pedentives, triangular curving wall sections built between four huge arches that spring from piers at the corners of the dome's square base-pedentive construction makes possible a dome over a square or rectangular space, eg domed basilica-pedentives themselves provide the transition-H. Sophia is earliest use of pedentives in major building-pedentive construction is the Byzantine contribution to architecture

-main dome has band of forty windows around its base (instead of a central oculus) for lighting-makes dome appear to float

-worshipers entered through a forecourt and outer and inner narthexes on a central axis

-note Stokstad's discussion on Orthodox liturgy-Mass took place behind a screen (at H. Sophia--an embroidered curtain, in later churches an iconostasis, or wall hung with icons)-emperor only layperson permitted to enter the sanctuary-men stood in aisles, women in the galleries-focus of congregation on screen or upwards into dome

-in plan: 270 ft long, 240 ft wide

-dome is 180 ft in diameter, and crown rises 180 ft above pavement

-first dome collapsed in 558 and was replaced by present one

-buttresses added to the Justinianic design, four minarets added after Ottoman conquest

-brick construction not concrete—eight great piers are ashlar masonry, screen walls are brick, as are vaults of aisles, galleries, domes and the conches (semicircular half-domes)

-nave reserved for clergy, aisles for the congregation


San Vitale, Ravenna, 526-547 12.6–8

Apse mosaic with Christ between angels and saints 12.9

Mosaic with Justinian and attendants 12.10

Mosaic with Theodora and attendants 12.11

-Ravenna taken from the Ostragoths in 540, served as base for further conquest of Italy by Justinian, which was completed in 553

-526-Ecclesius, the Arian bishop of Ravenna from 521 to 532, commissioned two new churches, one for the city and one for its port Classis-these would become San Vitale and Sant'Apollinare in Classe--with funding from a wealthy local banker, construction began on central-plan church dedicated to 4th c Italian martyr Saint Vitalis (San Vitale) and basilica-plan church dedicated to St. Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna--neither completed until Justinian had conquered Ravenna-church of San Vitale dedicated in 547, with Sant'Apollinare in Classe dedicated in 549

-design of San Vitale: octagon extended by exedralike semicircular bays and covered by a round dome--strict symmetry of the design is broken by extension of one bay into a rectangular sanctuary and apse that projects through one of the octagonal sides of the shell--circular chapels with rectangular altar spaces flank apse projection--separate but long-gone narthex in form of long oval vestibule led to palace complex-triangular bays led to cylindrical stair towers that gace access to the second floor gallery--sophisticated design that has distant roots in Roman bldgs, eg Sta Constanza

-centrally planned, consists of two concentric octagons--dome-covered inner octagon rises above surrounding octagon to provide interior with clerestory lighting

-complex, interpenetrating interior spaces--round dome (hidden on exterior by octagonal shell and tile-covered roof) as light, strong structure created out of interlocking ceramic tubes and mortar--rests on eight large piers that frame the exedrae and the sanctuary--two story exedrae open though arches into outer aisles on ground floor and into galleries on the second floor--expand the circular central space physically--airy, floating sensation

-mosaic deocration "presents a unique mixture of imperial ritual, Old Testament narrative, and Christian liturgical symbolism that dissolves its architecture into shimmering light and color"

-sanctuary apse: mosaic of Christ enthroned, flanked by Saint Vitalis and Bishop Ecclesius, who presents a model of the church to Christ--Christ seated on the orb of the world, with four rivers of Paradise beneath him--hands wreath of victory (crown of martyrdom) to Vitalis, who is introduced by an angel--in his other hand he holds the seven-sealed scroll on his knee-at Christ's left another angel introduces Bishop Ecclesius-

arrangement recalls prophecy of last days of the world

-other images in the sanctuary relate to celebration of the Eucharist--pair of lambs flanking a cross decorate import blocks above intricately interlaced carving of marble capitlas--lunette on south wall shows altar table set with chalice and two patens with Melchizedek and Abel

-Justinian and Theodora did not attend the dedication ceremonies for the church conducted by Archbishop Maximianus in 547--they may never have set foor int Ravenna-but the two mosaics that face each other across the apse make their presence known

-Justinian mosaic: Justinian stands between representatives of church and state-dominates the scene--as head of state he wears a jewled crown and purple cloak--as head of church he carries large golden paten (liturgical plate) for the Eucharist--he stands next to Maximianus who holds a golden jewel-encrusted cross--Church officials hold a gospel book symbolizing the coming of the Word and a censer containing burning incense to purify the altar prior to the Mass-Justinian's soldiers march under the chi rho monogram, which is on their shield--between Justinian and Maximianus stands banker Julianus Argentarius (who financed the church)--general Belisarius stands to Justinian's right

-Theodora mosaic: she carries a huge golden chalice studded with jewels as offering for the Mass--she emulates the Magi, depicted at the bottom of her robe, who brought gifts to the infant Jesus--courtyard fountain stand to the left of the panel and patterned draperies adorn openings at left and right--she stands beneath a fluted shell canopy, classical motif associated with Venus--head seems almost fixed in place, with huge crown and golden halo--note that in Procopius' "Secret History," Theodora is described as a small-boned woman with sparkling eyes: "Theodora was fair of face and of a graceful, though small, person; her complexion was moderately colorful, if somewhat pale; and her eyes were dazzling and vivacious"--note she is not shown as emperor's equal, as she is clearly about to follow the procession through the curtained doorway

-striking that Justinian and Theodora here take the place of the priests in offering the bread and wine--idea that they will always appear here as participants in the sacred rites and proprietors of this royal church

-note that the gallery above was reserved for women
Sant’Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, ca.533-549, apse mosaic 12.12

-consecrated by Bishop Maximianus in 549-body of Saint Apollinaris rested here until it was transferred to Sant'Apollinare Nuovo

-simple geometry of brick exterior reflects basilica's interior spaces-narthex entrance spans full width of the ground floor-long, tall nave with clerestory ends in semicircular apse-side aisles flank the nave

-interior decoration confined to mosaics in the triumphal arch and apse behind it

-apse mosaic: stylized landscape with animal and human figures-jeweled cross with face of Christ at its center symbolizes the Transfiguration (Jesus' revelation of his divinity--one of his main theophanies [theophany=when his divinity was revealed on earth])-hand of God reaches down from above-OT figures Moses and Elijah emerge from clouds at each side, symbolically legitimizing the newer religion and attesting to the divine event-apostles Peter, James, and John, who witnessed the event, are represented here by three sheep with raised heads-in center below the cross, St. Apollinaris, in bishop's robes, is shown as an orant, reflecting the priest who stands behind the altar directly below the mosaic-twelve lambs flanking him represent the apostles, also refer to the role of the bishop as protector of the flock-stalks of blooming lilies, along with tiny trees and other plants, birds, and oddly shaped rocks, fill green mountain landscape-unlike the landscape in Galla Placidia mosaic, these highly stylized forms bear little resemblance to nature-trees and lambs at top of sky are larger than those at the bottom-any suggestion of spatial recession thus eliminated-telling the story in terms of flat symbols, lined up side by side-overall meaning of triumph over death leading to eternal life, as summarized in death of Christ, death of his martyrs (eg St Apollinaris), and celebration of the Eucharist on the altar below
Monastery of St. Catherine, Sinai

Apse mosaic with the Transfiguration of Christ, ca. 565 12.13

-Justinian built this monastery between 548 and 565

-apse mosaic shows striking divergences from Ravenna style, although both styles likely to have emanated from Justinian's city of Constantinople

-Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8)-Jesus appears in deep blue mandorla, flanked by Elijah and Moses, with disciples of John, Peter, and James at his feet-whole scene framed by portraits of saints in medallions

-artist has stressed the whiteness of Christ, blinding light shown as rays streaming down to the other figures

-stately figures of Elijah and Moses, static frontality of Jesus-contrast with frantic terror and astonishment of the disciples

-all traces of landscape or architectural setting swept away-depthless field of gold on which figures and labels are placed in isolation from one another

-gold field bounded at base by rainbow band of colors to which figures are amibguous related

-figures cast no shadows, despite the supernatural light

-more mystical, visionary, style-appropriate to a monastery church (as opposed to more formal, hieratic style of imperial buildings in Ravenna)

-importance of Transfiguration theme--moment when Christ's divinity is revealed-contra to the contemporary heresies of Arianism and Monophysitism

-also note Transfiguration had special meaning for Mt Sinai because it was at this site that Moses received the tablets of the Law from the Lord--when divinity was revealed to him

-church at the monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary: mid-5th c: Mary officially recognized by the Orthodox Church as the Mother of God (Theotokos), putting to rest controversy about the divine nature of Christ
Icon with Virgin and Child (Virgin Theotokos), 6th-7th c. 12.15

-icons: small portable panel paintings depicting Christ, Virgin, saints—survive from as early as the 4th c—from 6th c on become very popular in Byzantine worship—icons as a way to interact with holy figures—some believed to be wonder-working



Rabbula Gospels, from Zagba, Syria, 586, Ascension page 12.14


-Ascension: one of the essential truths of Christianity—Christ rose from the dead after three days, and on the fortieth day ascended into Heaven

-written in Syriac by the monk Rabbula at monastery of Saint John the Evangelist at Zagba in Syria

-Christ bearded in a mandorla borne aloft by angels—Mary and apostles look on

-figures set in a mosaic-like frame

-account of the Ascension is in Actsbut doesn’t mention presence of Mary—her inclusion here and her prominence in the composition indicate her importance in Church theology—she is frontal, wears a nimbus, and is in the position of an orant

mid-5th c: Mary officially recognized by the Orthodox Church as the Mother of God (Theotokos), putting to rest controversy about the divine nature of Christ

-note Christ’s fiery winged chariot with symbols of the evangelists (in scripture, he rises in a cloud)

-this is not an illustration of the gospel: this is an illumination depicting some of the central tenets of the faith

-may have been based on a lost painting or mosaic in a major church
Middle Byzantine Period:

-the golden age of Byzantine art that had flourished under Justinian I continued until the early eighth century, when Iconoclasts rose to power in the Eastern Church/Empire

-726-Emperor Leo III launched campaign of iconoclasm ("image breaking")-iconoclasts felt that sacred art was dangerous and encouraged idol worship-emperor decreed that all religious images were idols and should be destroyed-widespread destruction of devotional pictures of Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and saints-those who defended devotional images (Iconodules) were persecuted—suspicion of icon worship as akin to idol worship—for more than a century no new works produced, and old ones destroyed

-veneration of images briefly restored under Empress Irene following Second Council of Nicaea in 787, but Iconoclasts regained power in 814

-843-Empress Theodora, widow of Theophilus, last of iconoclastic emperors, reversed husband's policy

-during pd of iconoclasm--increased tension between Eastern church and papacy-popes defended veneration of images and refused to acknowledge emperor's authority to ban it

-iconoclasts claimed that representations of Jesus, because they show him as human, promote heresy by separating his divine from his human nature or by misrepresenting the two natures as one--iconophiles claimed that images testify to human visibility of Jesus and thus demonstrate faith in his dual nature

-those who defended images made distinction between veneration and worship--this idea controversial again during period of Protestant Reformation (and still today, to a certain extent)


Virgin and Child enthroned, apse mosaic, Hagia Sophia, 12.16

Constantinople, dedicated 867

-after iconophiles returned to power, destruction of images proclaimed heretical, and restoration of images began in 843—under new line of emperors (Macedonian dynasty) culture sprang to life once again

-Basil I (r. 867-886) thought of himself as restorer of the Roman Empire

-Hagia Sophia one of the first churches to be refurbished—new mosaic in the apse dedicated by the new rulers depicting enthroned Virgin and Child—she is more than 16 ft tall

-accompanying inscription announced that “pious emperors” had commissioned to replace the one the “imposters” had destroyed

-ninth century mosaic echoes the Mt Sinai icon—strict frontality of Mother and Child alleviated by angular placement of throne and footstool—schematic and flat treatment of Christ’s robes



Monastery of Hosios Loukas, Greece 12.17-12.19

Katholikon (first quarter of 11th c.) and Church of the Theotokos

(10th c.)

-little church decoration undertaken after return from iconoclasm

-new flowering of church architecture in 10th-12th centuries

-variations on the domed central plan

-exterior: typical later Byz church is a domed cube, with dome rising above square on a cylinder or drum

-small, vertical, high shouldered, and have exterior wall surfaces with vivid deocrative patterns, unlike earlier Byz arch

-Church of Theotokos: oustanding Second Golden Age church—light stones framed by dark brickes make up the walls—interplay of arcuatedwindows, projecting apses, and varying roof lines—surface dynamism

-plan: domed cross in square with four equal length vaulted cross arms (Greek cross)—pedentive domes

-Katholikon: dome over octagon inscribed in a square—octagone formed by squinches—different visual effect on interior than pedentives—complex relationship of geometric spaces in plan

-Katholikon interior: space, surface, light, and dark—high and narrow, forces gaze upward—flat walls and concave recesses interplay—Middle Byz architects aim for creation of complex interior spaces that issue into multiple domes

-most of original mosaics do not survive

Church of the Dormition, Daphni, Greece, ca. 1090-1100

Mosaic with the Crucifixion


-in this church, main elements of 11th-c program survive, although restored in 19th c

-pictorial style: mix of painterly Hellenistic style and more abstract Byz style

-on a wall in the north arm of a church

-Jesus shown with bowed head and sagging body, eyes closed in death—this is new way of showing crucified Christ from 7th c onward

-artist shows just two other figures-Mary and John the Evangelist, to whom Jesus had entrusted the care of his mother after his death-these two figures most likely to elicit an emotional response from the viewer

-John looks out at the viewer-emotional

-Mary gestures toward Christ

-arc of blood springing from Jesus' side refers to the Eucharist

-simplification of contours, reduction of forms to essentials give image great emotional power-sense of timelessness and otherworldly space—timelessness over narrative

-flowers below suggest promise of new life

-mound of rocks and skull represent Golgotha "the place of the skull"

-a contemplative image appropriate for a monastery setting

-gestures of John and Mary draw viewer’s eyes to Christ and help inspire contemplation on his figure
Cathedral of St. Mark, Venice, begun 1063 12.21–12.22 Anastasis mosaic from the west vault, ca. 1180 12.23

-also resurgence of church architecture in Western areas under Eastern influence, eg Venice

-Venice was a dependency of Ravenna (a Byz stronghold) in Early Byz period

-with fall of Ravenna in 751 Venice became independent power—focus on sea commerce with the East

-doges construction first church dedicated to Mark in the 9th c—fire destroyed it in 976, and then second church, and then new present church begun in 1063—modeled on Church of Holy Apostles in Constantinople (built under Justinian)

-key elements of plan: cruciform plan with central dome over the crossing and four other domes over the four equal arms of the Greek cross—domes elaborated in St Mark’s, covered with wood sheathed in copper

-both a martyrium and a palace chapel for the doges—became cathedral of Venice in 12th century—repeatedly remodeled later

-interior is Byz in effect—light entering from rows of windows at bases of all five domes, illuminating rich mosaic cycle (put in over course of 2 centuries)—ca 40,000 square feet of mosaics

-central dome: 80 ft from floor, 42 ft in diameter

-Anastasis mosaic: between death and resurrection, Christ descends into Limbo where he tramples Satan and receives the supplication of the faithful at left and the witness of St John the Baptist and prophets at right—has come to liberate the righteous who died before he came—Anastasis is not a scriptural story, but from apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus—this is the Byz way of showing the Resurrection (West preferred showing discovery of the empty tomb)—“boldly assymmetrical” composition—inscription in Latin and Greek explains scene—“emotional and hieratic abstraction”—no sense of space, depth—very linear—Venetian mosaicist, Byzantine iconography


St. Pantaleimon, Nerezi, Macedonia, 1164 12.27 Wall painting with lamentation over the dead Christ

-after iconoclasm lifted, new enthusiasm for painting throughout the emprire

-1164: painters embellish St. Pantaleimon

-Lamentation: “image of passionate grief”—Mary, St. John the Evangelist grasps Christ’s hand, St. Peter and disciple Nicodemus at his feet

-blue sky, hilly landscape contrast with the abstract golden background of mosaics elsewhere—an alternate representational mode with more fully modelled figures and landscape
Paris Psalter, ca. 950-970: Page with David composing 12.28

-more classicizing style—reasserts artistic values of classical past—dates from so-called “Macedonian Renaissance” (10th century), a time of study and interest in ancient Greek literature and culture—going back to Hellenistic naturalism

-Daivd in rocky landscape, town in background—allegorical figures accompany the harpist (Melody behind him, Echo from behind a column), animals—cf. images of Orpheus—recliming male figure has inscription id’ing him as personification of Bethlehem—figures cf Greco-Roman painting
Icon with Virgin Theotokos (Vladimir Madonna), late 11th-early 12th c. 12.29

-return to prominence of the painted icon

-11th c: clergy begin to display icons in hieratic order (Christ, the Theotokos, John the Baptist,and then other saints) in tiers on the templon (screen separating sanctuary from main body of the church)

-Vladimir virgin reveals typical stylized abstraction

-painted by an artist in Byzantium—typical features: sharp sidewise inclination of the Virgin’s head, long straight nose and small mouth; golden rays in infant’s drapery, deocrative contours, flat silhouette against golden ground, deep pathos of Virgin’s expression—viewer invited to contemplate the sacrifice of her son

-only faces show original surface b/c so often repainted and touched up—exported to Vladimir in Russia and was taken to Moscow in 1395 as a wonder-working object to help protect from Mongols—Russians continued to believe the icon had powers, e.g. against the Poles in the 17th century



Late Byzantine Period (AD 1261-1453):

-late 11th-12th centuries: power passed from Macedonian to Comnenian dynasty

-Seljuk Turks conquer most of Anatolia

-Byzantine Orthodox Church finally breaks with church of Rome

-Crusades brought the Latins into Byz lands on their way to the Holy Land

-these three things dramatically change Byz fortunes

-1203-1204: Constantinople sacked during Fourth Crusade by Latin invaders (urged on by Venetians)—the empire split up into small kingdoms (3 states)

1261: Michael VIII Palaeologus succeeds in recapturing Constantinople, fragmentary empire that disentgrates over the next 2 centuries—Muslim conquests in the Balkans and Muslim Turks in the East threaten the empire, West does not help, and in 1453 Constantinople falls to the Ottoman Turks


Church of the Monastery of Christ in Chora, Constantinople (Istanbul)

Apse painting with the Anastasis (Harrowing of Hell), 12.31

ca. 1310-1320

-brief resurrection of the empire meant a third flowering of art

-fresco in the apse of the parekklesion (side chapel) of the church (which was turned into a mosque and is now a museum)

-scene central to a cycle portraying themes of human mortality and redemption by Christ and intercession of the Virginfunerary chapel

-Christ tramples Satan and the prison house of Hell—raises Adam and Eve from their tombs—left: John the Baptist, King David, and King Solomon; right: righteous of the Old Dispensation (led by St. Stephen, first Christian martyr)—Christ does not carry cross here—he appears in a mandorla

-frontal symmetry—swift and smooth action—spaceless ,floating atmosphere—subtly nuanced colors and modeling—fluidity unlike the “jagged abstraction” of the St Mark’s mosaic

-when compared with the Sinai Transfig: essential conservatism determining iconography, composition, facial and body types, rendering of space, etc. –concern with imaging the eternal
Icon from church of St. Clement, Ohrid, Macedonia, with 12.32

Christ as Savior of Souls, early 14th c.

-in Late Byz period, the low screen separating sanctuary from church develops into an iconostasis (icon stand), high screen with doors—supported tiers of painted icons, produced again in large numbers

-use of silver foil to frame tempera image of Christ

-adhers to old traditions of iconography and style—standard image of Savior holding Bible in left hand and blessing with the right

-fully modeled head and neck (more Greco-Roman) plus more schematic, linear drapery—eclecticism of Byz style

-has a crucifixion on the reverse: icons often painted on 2 sides to they can be carried in processions—in the church, were placed on stands to see both sides


Andrey Rublyov, Icon with three angels visiting Abraham, ca. 1410 12.34

-icon painting flourished for centuries in Russia, even after collapse of the emprire

-tempera on wood—4’8” x 3’9”

-Russian icons usually had strong patterns and colors—heightening legibility in dimness

-Andrei Rublyov: Russian painting reaches a climax

-great spiritual power, subtle line, vivid color

-prefiguration of the Holy Trinity after the Incarnation

-each angel framed with a halo and sweeping wings, nearly identical except for colors of cloaks—light linear play of draperies—tranquil demeanor



-juxtaposition of complementary hues: blue and green folds of cloak stand out against the red and orange of the wings
after fall of the Empire, Russia saw itself as the “Third Rome” defending Christianity against Islam


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