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BYZANTIUM. GARDINER CHAPTER 12-3 PP. 330-338. SAINT MARK’S – VENICE. Interior of Saint Mark’s, Venice, Italy, begun 1063 The Byzantine East was not the only place for the revival of church building on a grand scale 751 Ravenna and N. Italy is taken from the Byzantines by the Lombards

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PP. 330-338

Saint mark s venice

  • Interior of Saint Mark’s, Venice, Italy, begun 1063

  • The Byzantine East was not the only place for the revival of church building on a grand scale

  • 751 Ravenna and N. Italy is taken from the Byzantines by the Lombards

  • Venice, 80 miles north of Ravenna, becomes an independent power -> ruled by the DOGES (dukes) -> becomes a center of seaborne commerce and a link between Byzantium and the West

  • Saint Mark’s has a central dome over the crossing and four other domes over the four equal arms of the Greek cross

  • 40,000 square feet of dazzling mosaics covering the walls and vaults

Norman sicily

  • Pantokrator, Theotokos and Child, angels, and saints, apse mosaic in the cathedral at Monreale (Sicily), Italy, ca. 1180-1190

  • Normans = northern French descendants of the Vikings

  • Normans drive the Arabs from Sicily -> est. strong kingdom -> in Sicily there is an interplay of Western Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic cultures

  • In centrally planned Byzantine churches the image of the Pantokrator appears in the main dome -> but the Monreale cathedral is a longitudinal basilica and the semidome of the apse is its only vault

  • It is estimated that the mosaics of the Monreale cathedral are made up of 100 million glass and stone tesserae

Harbaville triptych

  • Christ enthroned with saints, ca. 950, ivory, central panel 9”x5”

  • TRIPTYCH = 3 panels

  • This is a portable shrine with hinged wings used for private devotion

  • On the two wings are four pairs of full length figures and two pairs of medallions depicting saints

  • Central panel shows John the Baptist the Theotokos praying on behalf of the viewer to the enthroned savior -> below are 5 apostles

  • Less formality and solemnity -> softer. More fluid technique -> looser stances, ¾ views of many of the heads

  • This more natural, classical spirit is characteristic of the Middle Byzantine period


  • Lamentation over the dead Christ, wall painting, Saint Pantaleimon, Nerezi, Macedonia, 1164

  • Working in the Balkans in an alternate Byzantine mode, this painter staged the emotional scene of the Lamentation in a hilly landscape below a blue sky

  • An image of passionate grief

  • Attitudes, expressions, and gestures of quite human bereavement

  • Contrast this w/ the abstract golden world of the mosaics in church walls elsewhere in the Byzantine Empire -> alternative to the frontal, flatter figures of Ravenna

Paris psalter

  • David composing the Psalms, folio 1 verso of the Paris Psalter, ca. 950-970, tempera on vellum

  • Another example of the classical revival style

  • Biblical scene rendered w/inspiration from the Hellenistic naturalism of the ore-Christian world

  • Rocky landscape w/town in background -> allegorical figures not from the bible accompany the Old Testament harpist

  • Byzantine artists kept the classical style alive in the Middle Ages

Vladimir virgin

  • Virgin (Theotokos) and Child, icon, late 11th to 12th centuries, tempera on wood

  • Middle Byzantine art sees the return to prominence of the icon

  • The renowned Vladimir Virgin is a masterpiece of icon painting

  • Stylized abstraction -> Virgin’s long, straight nose and small mouth -> golden rays of the infant’s drapery -> unbroken contour that encloses the two figures -> flat silhouette against the golden ground

  • Artist depicts Mary as the Virgin of Compassion -> presses her cheek against her son’s as she contemplates his future

  • Icons were placed before or above altars in churches or private chapels

  • Taken from Kiev in Ukraine to Vladimir in Russia then to Moscow to protect the city from Mongols -> it was seen as a wonder working image

Late byzantine art

  • Major events in Byzantine history in the 11th and 12th centuries

  • Seljuk Turks conquer most of Anatolia

  • Byzantine Orthodox Church makes final break with the Church of Rome

  • Crusades bring the Latins (peoples of the West) into Byzantine lands on their way to fight the Saracens/Muslims in the Holy Land

  • 1203 and 1204 the Crusaders motivated by envy, greed, religious fanaticism and ethnic enmity attack Constantinople and sack it

  • Latins set up kingdoms within Byzantium -> 1261 Byzantines retake Constantinople -> but the empire is a mere fragment -> it disintegrates over the next 2 centuries -> 1453 the Ottoman Turks conquer Constantinople and end Byzantium forever

Late byzantine art 1261 1453

  • Late Byzantine period = 14th and 15th centuries

  • Four characteristic examples show the range and quality of painting during the Late Byzantine period

    1. Christ in Chora – apse fresco

    2. Ohrid Icons – Christ as Savior of Souls

    3. Ohrid Icons – The Annunciation

    4. Icon paintings of Andrei Rublyev

Late byzantine painting christ in chora

  • Anastasis, apse fresco in the parekklesion of the Church of Christ in Chora, Constantinople, Turkey, ca. 1310-1320

  • In this Late Byzantine funerary chapel, Christ, a white apparition surrounded by a luminous mandorla - > raises Adam and Eve from tombs -> on the left are John the Baptist, and King’s David and Solomon -> on the right are various martyr saints

  • Action is swift and smooth -> figures float in a spiritual atmosphere, spaceless and without material mass or shadow casting volume

Late byzantine painting ohrid icons

  • Christ as Savior of Souls, icon from Saint Clement, Ohrid, Macedonia, early 14th century

  • ICONOSTASIS = a high screen/partition with doors and tiers of icons that separates the sanctuary from the main body of a Byzantine church

  • This icon is notable for the lavish use of finely etched silver foil -> the Savior holds a bejeweled Bible in his left hand and blesses the faithful w/his right hand

  • This icon typifies Byzantine eclecticism -> juxtaposition of the fully modeled head and neck in the Greco-Roman heritage and the schematic, linear folds of the garment

Late byzantine painting ohrid icons1

  • Annunciation, reverse of a two-sided icon from Saint Clement, Ohrid, Macedonia, early 14th century, tempera and linen on wood

  • Late Byzantine icons often painted on two sides -> intended to be carried in processions

  • In this scene the angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the Mother of God

  • Gestures and attitudes are conventional -> highly simplified architectural props -> sturdy three dimensional figures -> but otherworldly sky of a sacred space

  • Another example of eclecticism

Andrei rublyev

  • In Russia icon painting flourishes long after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire in 1453

  • Russian painting had strong patterns, firm lines, and intense contrasting colors -> better to see them in the candlelight and clouds of incense in church interiors

  • The master of Russia icon painting is ANDREI RUBLYEV

  • Three angels(Old Testament Trinity), ca. 1410, tempera on wood, Moscow -> exceptionally large icon

  • Saturation, brilliance, and purity of the color harmonies are the hallmark of Rublyev’s style