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Byzantine Art Early Byzantine c.e.

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Presentation on theme: "Byzantine Art Early Byzantine c.e."— Presentation transcript:

1 Byzantine Art Early Byzantine 500-726 c.e.
Iconoclastic Controversy c.e. Middle or High Byzantine c.e. Late Byzantine c.e.

2 Key Ideas of Byzantine Art
The Byzantine Empire was born out of the remains of the Roman Empire and continued many elements of the Roman classical tradition, but in a Christian framework Byzantine painting specialized in mosaics, icons, and manuscript illumination Byzantine art had two traditions, one reflecting the classical past and a more hieratic style that represented medieval art- often in the same work Byzantine architects invented the pendentive and squinch for buildings known for their mysterious and shadowy interiors.











13 Hagia Sophia 532-537 Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus
Combination of Centrally and axially planned church Exterior plain and massive, little decoration Altar at the end of nave but emphasis is placed over the area covered by the dome Dome supported by pendentives Large central dome, with 40 windows at the base symbolically acting as a halo over the congregation when filled with light.

14 Hagia Sophia Cornice unifies the space.
Large fields for mosaics: at one time had 4 acres of gold mosaics on walls Many windows punctuate the wall spaces Minarets added in the Islamic period Patrons were Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora, who commissioned the work after the burning of the original building in the Nike revolt.




18 San Vitale 526-547c.e., Ravenna Eight sided church
Plain exterior except porch added later In Renaissance Large windows for illuminating interior designs Interior has thin columns and open arched spaces Dematerialization of the mass of the structure

19 Justinian and Attendants, c,547, mosaic from San Vitale, Ravenna

20 Justinian and Attendants
To his left the clergy, to his right the military Dressed in royal purple and gold Symmetry, frontality Holds a paren for the Eucharist Slight impression of procession forward: cf. Roman Imperial works Figures have no volume, seem to float, and yet step on each other’s feet

21 Minimal background: green base at feet, golden background indicates timelessness
Maximianus identified, patron of San Vitale Halo indicates saintliness, a semidivinity as head of church and state Justinian and Theodora are actively participating in the Mass- their position over the altar enhances this allusion



24 Slight displacement of absolute symmetry with Theodora- she plays a secondary role to her husband.
Richly robed empress and ladies at court She stands in an architectural framework, holding a chalice for the mass, and is about to go behind the curtain Figures are flattened and weightless, barely a hint of a body can be detected beneath the drapery Three Magi, who bring gifts to the baby Jesus, are depicted on the hem of her dress. This reference draws parallels between Theodora and the Magi






30 Monastery Churches, tenth to eleventh centuries, Hosios Loukas, Greece
Exterior shows decorative placement of stonework and soft interplay of horizontal and vertical elements Large windows areas punctuated by smaller holes, creating a sense of mystery in the interior Interior wall spaces dissolve into delicate arches Octagonal squinches support dome surrounded by windows Church has a light interior filled with sparkling mosaics Good examples of the Middle Byzantine tradition

31 Monastery Churches, tenth to eleventh centuries, Hosios Loukas, Greece
Extensive use of variously colored marbles on the lower floors and mosaics or frescoes in the elevated portions of the buildings. Domes tend to be low and have windows around the base Middle and late buildings have a strong vertical emphasis. Domes were set on elevated drums. Greek orthodox tradition dictates important parts of the mass take place behind a curtain or screen composed of icons called an iconostasis.






37 Saint Mark’s Cathedral 1063 c.e., Venice Italy
Five domes placed in a cross pattern Windows at base of dome illuminate brilliant mosaics that cover every wall space above the first floor Figures are weightless in a field of gold mosaics Prominent iconostasis separates apse from nave

38 Saint Mark’s Cathedral
Compartmentalized space of Middle Byzantine architecture, more open and spacious Hagia Sophia Contains relics of Saint Mark, the evangelist






44 Saint Basil’s Cathedral by Barma and Postnik, 1555-1561 c. e
Saint Basil’s Cathedral by Barma and Postnik, c.e., Moscow, Russia Commissioned by Ivan the Terrible Tall, slender pyramid-like central tower crowned by small, onion-shaped dome Central spire surrounded by eight smaller domes of various sizes with fanciful decorative surfaces Low, flat, rounded arches intermix with triangular forms and tall slender window-like shallow spaces


46 David Composing the Psalms from the Paris Psalter, c. 950-970 c. e
David Composing the Psalms from the Paris Psalter, c c. e., tempera on vellum Psalter, book of Psalms from the Old Testament Figures aned landscape based on classlical models Brilliant and balanced color Dynamic contrast between muscular bodies and stiff draperies

47 David Composing the Psalms
David is playing the harp by Melody (upper body is classical in inspiration, lower body is mideval) Personification of Echo (?) behind a loving cup given as a prize for best singer. Muscular, classically inspired figure symbolizing Mountains of Bethlehem in lower right. Curves dominate composition: left foot of Melody to mountain god, circle around David and Melody. Jewel like border frames scene.


49 Pantocrater, 1180-1190 mosaic, Cathedral, Monreale Sicily
Mosaics arranged in an elaborate hierarchy: Jesus at top. Solidity of figure: monumental scale Sternness, severeness, awesome grandeur Jesus at the top of a strict hierarchical program of images Blessing gesture in his right hand, left hand holds a bible inscribed in Latin and Greek Image suggests combination of Jesus Christ and God the Father. Pointed arches suggest the beginning of the Gothic style Largest Byzantine mosaic cycle extant, over one acre of gold mosaic: dazzling recreation of heavenly realm on earth.

50 Virgin (Theotokos) and Child between saints Theodore and Gorge, icon, sixth or early seventh century. Encaustic on wood, Monastery of Saint Catherine, Mount Sinai, Egypt

51 Icons and Iconoclasm Icons used for private worship. Very few survive. The best that have survived from Mount Sinai Saint Catherine’s monastery. Continuing tradition of panel painting from Rome. But using traditional Byzantine style on the bodies. Eighth century iconoclasm stopped production and destroyed existing icons. Works from are almost completely lost. Work began again in 843 when iconoclasm was repealed and images were reinstated. Iconoclasm of the Arabs destroyed many Byzantine icons in the seventh century


53 Andrei Rublev, Old Testament Trinity, c
Andrei Rublev, Old Testament Trinity, c. 1410, tempera on wood, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Byzantine affinity of repeating forms from older art Heads of angels nearly identical Poses are mirror images Luminous appeal of colors Deep color harmonies of draperies Extensive use of gold Nearly spaceless background Three Old Testament angels who appear to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis: parallel relationship to the Christian Trinity

54 Saint Michael the Archangel, early
6th century, ivory, British Museum, London

55 Largest extant Byzantine ivory panel modeled Saint Michael on a classical Winged victory
From a hinged diptych in Early Christian Tradition. Saint Michael the patron saint of Hagia Sophia. Image prototype has been adapted form pagan to Christian and given new meanings. Image made to float rather than be rooted to the ground. Classical Byzantine concern for symbols rather than reality. Spatial ambiguity. Imperial imagery with the orb and scepter.

56 Saint Michael the Archangel, early 6th century, ivory, British Museum, London
One leaf of an ivory Diptych Roman coiffure, Classical drapery, facial type Subtle relief folds Delicately detailed classical architecture Imperial imagery in the orb and the scepter Saint Michael hovers in front of the arch, wings before Columns Spatial ambiguity: feet placed on steps behind columns Body articulated beneath drapery



59 Harbaville Triptych, c.950, ivory, Louvre, Paris
Individualized heads Frontality broken up by slight turns of body Sharp crisp lines Very hieratic composition Angels appear in medallions Jewel-like delicacy of carving Many have their hands covered, a symbol of respect in Byzantine art Medieval interest in labeling names of figures in works of art Figures are the same size, many dressed alike and symmetrically arranged.

60 Vocabulary Cathedral Codex Icon Iconostasis Mosaic Pantocrator
Pendentive Psalter Squinch Triptych

61 Multiple choice questions
All of the following are architectural innovations at the Hagia Sophia EXCEPT: A circle of windows appears at the base of the dome Pendentives are used to support the dome The ground plan is a mix of the axial and centrally planned church Frescoes cover the wall spaces

62 2. Fears of idolatry caused the Byzantines to
Stop the production of icons Invade the surrounding countries they considered heathen Decorate the interior of their churches with abstract symbols Turn to ivory as a principal source of carving

63 3. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire, artistic production continued in
France Egypt Russia England

64 4. An iconostasis was used to
Allow artists to paint icons in place Separate the apse from the transept and the nave of a church Offer support for a squinch Allow light into a church

65 5. Characteristically, icons
Were handled and kissed by the faithful Were used by the Byzantine emperor to deliver messages Had images of the emperor or members of his court on them Symbolized Byzantium’s link to its classical past

66 6. This Byzantine panel shows the influence of classical art in its
Spatial placement of the angel on the steps and in the arch Modeling of the body Christian symbolism Relationship of the figure to the architectural setting

67 7. This Byzantine panel is made of
terra-cotta Marble Limestone ivory

68 8. Byzantine churches have artistic programs that feature Jesus as the central figure in the role of Panatocrator, meaning he is the Savior Son of God Ruler of the world Unifier of all

69 9. The Hagia Sophia was built under the patronage of
Emperor Trajan Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora Emperor Basil I Constantine the Great

70 10. The subject of this painting draws a parallel between
The Bible and Greek mythology Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyessy Early and Late Byzantine art D. The Hebrew and Christian scriptures

71 Short essay, 10 minutes Identify the central figure in this image. What pictorial and stylistic devices are used to communicate this person’s majesty and importance?

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