AP Art History – Byzantium

Flashcard maker : Jessica Forbes
The Christian Roman Empire (no picture)
324: Constantine founded Constantinople on the site of ancient Byzantium.
395: When Theodosius (who in 380 established Christianity as the state religion) died, imperial power passed to sons: Arcadius Emperor of the East, and Honorius Emperor of the West.
Empire was divided as century earlier Diocletians
When Visgoths (Germanic people) threatened, Honorius moved capital from Milan to Ravenna.
Government in West soon gave way to warring kingdoms (ch. 11)
Eastern Christian Empire lasted a millennium until (ironically) Constantine XI died at Constantinople in 1453 at war with the Ottoman Turks. Byzantine’s collapse brought scholars to Rome from East who introduced the study of classical Greek to Italy and inspired Renaissance.
Historians refer to the empire as Byzantium, but the emperors called their empire Rome and spoke Greek.
Christian buffer against the expansion of Islam
Byzantium Christianized Slavic people in Balkans and Russia . . . Orthodox religion, alphabet, literary culture, art and architecture.
Early Byzantine (no picture)
From founding of Constantinople in 324 to the onset of iconoclasm (the destruction of images used in religious worship) in 726 under Leo III.
Understand the cultural mix of Roman, Christian, and eastern influences in the art of Byzantium.
Saint Michael the Archangelright leaf of diptych, early sixth century Ivory, 1′ 5\” X 5 1/2\”
Largest Byzantine carved ivory panel
\”Receive these gifts\” offering orb to emperor in missing diptych leaf
Prototype: winged Victory (not a woman, not carrying palm branch of victory)
What indicates the classical tradition?
How did the artist reject the classical artists’ goal of rendering the three-dimensional world in convincing and consistent fashion with figures rooted firmly on the ground?
\”The Golden Age of Justinian (r. 527 – 565)\” (no picture)
Justinian’s generals:
drove the Ostrogothes out of Italy
expelled the Vandals from the African providences
beat back Bulgars from the North
held the Sasanians on the eastern borders
In Constantinople, Justinian put down the Nika revolt of political and religious factions
Supervised the codification of Roman law into the Code of Civil Law, which became the law system for many modern European nations.
Proclaimed Christianity as the only lawful religion
Orthodox doctrine of equality of trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Christ had a dual divine-human nature.
In Constantinople built or restored more than 30 Orthodox churches, cost subjects dearly in taxation.
ANTHEMIUS OF TRALLES and ISIDORUS OF MILETUS Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, 532-537
Church of Holy Wisdom
ANTHEMIUS OF TRALLES, a mathematician and ISIDORUS OF MILETUS, a physicist designed
Fire destroyed prior church on site during Nika riot in 532.
Justinian’s goal was to surpass all other churches in scale and magnificence.
The dome is 108′ in diameter and height above pavement
Collapsed in 558, repaired in 9th and 14th c.
Interior of Hagia Sophia (looking southwest), Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, 532-537
External aspects are different from original: buttresses are later additions, minarets were added after the Ottoman conquest of 1453 when Hagia Sophia became a mosque.
It is now a museum.
Mystical quality of light.
Most characteristic feature of Byzantine construction is placing a circular dome on top of a square.
Pendentives (from Latin pendere, to hang) are smaller domes that rest on top of larger domes, transferring the weight to the 4 piers.
Squinches bridge corners of supporting walls and form an octagon.
A domed basilica that united Greek theology, ambitious scale of Rome, vaulting of Mesopotamia, and mysticism of Eastern Christianity.
Thrusts (outward or lateral stress in a structure, as that exerted by an arch or vault) of the pendentive construction made external buttresses as well as northern and southern wall piers and eastern and western half-domes necessary to support the weight.
Columnar arcades of the nave and 2nd floor galleries have no structural function.
Using brick instead of concrete is distinctive of Byzantine architecture.
Clergy only in nave, laity (segregated by sex) in aisles and galleries had partial views of ceremonies.
Emperor only layperson allowed to enter sanctuary: church and state united.
Ravenna (no picture)
In 493, Theodoric, the Ostrogoth’s greatest king, chose Ravenna, as his capital of his kingdom.
Importance of city declined under Theodoric’s successor’s until . . .
In 539 Justinian’s general, Belisarius captured the city.
The city’s art, even more than Constantinople where little outside architecture survives, reveals the transition from Early Christian to Byzantine style.
San Vitale Ravenna, Italy526-547
San Vitale began under Bishop Ecclesius (r. 522 – 532) shortly after Theodric’s death in 526.
Wealthy Julianus Argentarius (Julian the Banker) funded construction with 26,000 solidi (gold coins weighing more than 350 pounds.
Plan of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy, 526-547
Centrally planned, NOT a basilica.
Dome covered clerestory-lit central space
Piers alternate with curved, columned exedrae (semi-circular niches)
Intricate 8 leafed plan
Cross-vaulted choir interrupts ambulatory, give plan axial stability.
Angle of narthex may be because the (no longer existing) atrium paralleled a street.
San Vitale, ambulatory
Enter through narthex into the groin vaulted ambulatory encircling the central domed space.
The brick walls and vaults were originally covered in marble panels with few surviving (left).
San Vitale View Interior
Main domed space is supported on 8 large piers
Their solid mass alternating with the semi-circular niches (exedrae) that extend into the ambulatory and 2nd story gallery
2nd story gallery reserved for women
Choir and apse of San Vitale, mosaic Ravenna, Italy, 526-547
Vision of prophecy of Christ’s second coming, holds scroll with 7 seals, 4 rivers of paradise beneath, rainbow clouds above
Hands gold martyr’s wreath to Saint Vitalis, patron saint
Bishop Ecclesius offers model of San Vitale to Christ
Justinian, Bishop Maximianus, and attendants, mosaic on the north wall of the apse, San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy, ca. 547
(insert photo)
Theodora and attendants, mosaic on the south wall of the apse, San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy, ca. 547.
(insert photo)
Justinian and Theodora Mosaics (no picture)
Organic body has dematerialized, matter and material values are disparaged . . . purpose of religious art is to stimulate spiritual seeing.
Positions of figures express rank: emperor (holding paten (large bowl/plate for Eucharist bread), staff, clergy, and imperial guard.
Purple robes and halos link emperor and wife to Christ’s mosaic in the vault.
To the right of Justinian is Bishop Maximianus, responsible to San Vitale’s completion.
Nothing in Justinian’s mosaic background, implies procession taking place in San Vitale
Theodora is outside sanctuary, her rank is less than Justinian’s.
15 years younger, from humble family, but was very influential.
A civil servant at Constantinople described her as \”surpassing in intelligence all men who had ever lived.\”
She persuaded Justinian and his generals to hold their ground during Nika uprising and they succeeded.
3 magi on border of Theodora’s garment underscore her power.
Sant’Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, Italy, ca. 533-549
Housed body of Saint Apollinare, martyred in Ravenna’s port.
May represent cross Constantine erected on hill of Calvary to commemorate Jesus’ martyrdom.
On sides of cross: Moses and Elijah who appeared to Jesus during his transfiguration.
Apollinaris as an orant in center
Sant’Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna 6th cent.
Compare with Galla Placidia mosaic, 5th century
The figure, animals, and plants are now flat symbols, not modeled forms.
Complex symbolism in Sant’Apollinare:
Cross symbolizes Christ’s death, death of martyrs, and Christ’s transfiguration.
Lambs, symbols of martyrdom represents martyred apostles.
Mosaic was above altar where priests celebrated Eucharist.
Altars were sanctified by bones and relics of martyrs.
Even illiterate could understand – reward of eternal life is within reach.
Virgin (Theotokos) and Child with Saints Theodore and George, icon6th or early 7th century Encaustic on wood, 2′ 3\” X 1′ 7\” Mount Sinai, Egypt
Icons (images in Greek) are small portable paintings of Christ, the Virgin, and/or saints from the 4th century on.
Very popular in Byzantine worship in the 6th century.
Spiritual transaction, wonders and miracles were attributed to them by believers.
Guardian Saints Theodore and George interceded with the Virgin on the viewer’s behalf.
Traces of classical illusionism in faces, but not saints’ bodies.
Hand of God at top with light shaft.
Christ blessing, icon1st Pantokrator ? Mount Sinai, Egypt, 6th century Encaustic on wood, 2′ 9\” X 1′ 6\”
Many Christians feared breaking the 2nd commandment. Icon veneration confused with idol worship.
Iconoclasts (breakers of images) vs. Iconophiles (lovers of images)
These icons, were found in an area especially opposed, since it had suffered a series of calamities that Emperor Leo III (r. 717 – 741) may have attributed to God punishing idol worshipers, or . . . he was asserting the authority of the state over the church when he banned picturing the divine in 726.
Sasanians captured Antioch, Jerusalem, and Alexandria between 611- 617.
Byzantine emperor, Heraclius (r. 610 – 641) hardly defeated them in 627 when the Islamic Arabs (who did shunned representation of all living things in holy places) conquered the eastern Byzantine providences and Persia.
For more than a century, during the Iconoclasm, countless works of art were destroyed from several centuries of Christendom.
Middle Byzantium Art (no picture)
Iconoclasm had forced many Byzantine artists westward, employed by German kings and influenced the character of Western European art.
8th century, St. John of Damascus argued in favor of icons: the invisible God, made an image of himself in Jesus and humans and although icons were likenesses of holy figures, they were not identical to prototypes.
Regent Theodora, after husband Theophilos’ (r. 829 – 842) death, condemned iconoclasm as heresy (opposed to official beliefs).
New line of Macedonian emperors, resuscitated the Early Byzantine tradition of lavishly funding religious art and architecture.
Virgin (Theotokos) and Child enthroned, apse mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey dedicated 867
Macedonian dynasty dedicated new mosaic in Hagia Sophia in 867.
16 feet tall, but looks dwarfed in massive space.
Similar to Early Byzantine Mt. Sinai icon.
Angular placement of throne and foot stool in \”perspective\” recalls Greco-Roman roots.
Katholikon, Hosios Loukas, Greece, first quarter of 11th century
10 – 12th centuries monastic churches were built
Small and high-shouldered with a central dome on a drum
Katholikon (left) and the Church of the Theotokos (right) Hosios Loukas, Greece, first quarter of 11th century
Exterior wall surfaces with decorative patterns, probably reflecting Islamic architecture.
Light stones framed by dark red bricks, cloisonne technique, named from enamel work.
Surface dynamism created with arcuated windows, projecting apses, and varying roof lines.
Plan of the Church of the Theotokos (top) and Katholikon (bottom) Hosios Loukas, Greecesecond half of 10th and first quarter of 11th centuries. (1) Dome on pendentives, (2) dome on squinches.
Domed cross in a square with 4 equal-length vaulted cross arms (the Greek Cross)
Circle-octagon-square-oblong series is at once complex and unified.
Byzantium in the West (no picture)
In Early Byzantine period, Venice was a dependency of Ravenna, 80 miles to the south.
In 751 Ravenna fell to the Lombards, who took most of northern Italy from Constantinople. However, Venise became an independent power.
Its doges (dukes) got rich through sea trading and served as the link between Byzantium and the West.
Venice acquired relics of St. Mark from Alexandria in Egypt in 829, doges constructed first Venetian shrine dedicated to him, which burnt down in 976, then a second shrine was built.
Interior of Saint Mark’sVenice, Italy, begun 1063
Saint Mark’s was built on site of the original burned shrine.
Begun in 1063 by Doge Domenico Contarini
Cruciform plan with a central dome as well as 4 more domes over equal arms of Greek cross.
Windows around bases of all five domes.
Mosaics date to 12th and 13th centuries and have labels in both Latin and Greek reflecting Venice’s link between Eastern and Western Christendom.
Central dome – Christ ascends to Heaven in the presence of the Virgin Mary and 12 apostles.
Pantokrator, Theotokos and Childapse mosaic: cathedral at Monreale, (Sicily) Italy, ca. 1180-1190
Pantokrator, (ruler of all) holding the New Testament in his left hand and a gesture of blessing or teaching with his right.
Normans, northern French descendents of Vikings, drove the Arabs from Sicily and set up a kingdom there.
Enemies of Byzantium, but assimilated the culture and even hired artisans.
Also incorporated elements of Islamic art of the Arabs they defeated.
Norman king William III (r. 1087 – 1100) paid for mosaics and artisans portrayed him twice.
Basilica, longitudinally planned, apse is the only vault.
Theotokos flanked by archangels and 12 apostles appears below the Pantokrator.
Lower on the wall are the pope, bishops, and other saints.
Christ enthroned with saints (Harbaville Triptych), ca. 950. Ivory, central panel 9 1/2\” X 5 1/2\”
Portable shrine, replaced icons for personal prayer.
Wings, inside and out, 4 pairs of full length figures and 2 pairs of medallions depicting saints.
Cross on the back
The center features a scene of Deesis (supplication – petitioning/ asking).
St. John the Baptist and Theotokos are intercessors, praying on behalf of the viewer.
Below are the five apostles.
More natural, classical style is characteristic of the Middle Byzantium period. It also surfaced in mural painting and book illumination.
David composing the Psalms, folio 1 verso of the Paris Psalter, ca. 950-970. Tempera on vellum1′ 2\” X 10\”
Macedonian Renaissance, study of Ancient Greece and reverence for classical past.
Similar to Pompeii murals, David is depicted as Orpheus, the Greek hero who charmed even inanimate objects with his music.
Accompanied by allegorical figures: Melody looks over his shoulder, Echo peers from behind a column.
Reclining male points to a Greek inscription identifying him as representing the mountain of Bethlehem.
Allegorical figures are not from bible, but are from Greco-Roman painting.
Late Byzantine (no picture)
Byzantine’s fortunes changed for the worse because of three events after the Comnenian dynasty took over from the Macedonians:
Seljuk Turks conquered most of Asia Minor.
Byzantine Orthodox church broke with the Church of Rome.
Crusades brought Latins (generic term for Western people) into Byzantium on their way to fight Saracens (Muslims) in the Holy Land.
Venetians persuaded crusaders to attack Constantinople instead of Palestine in the 4th Crusade in 1203 – 1204.
Latins set up kingdoms in Byzantium which split into 3 small states.
Isolated from the Christian West by Muslims on the east and west, in 1453 Ottoman Turks took Constantinople and ended Byzantium.
Fresco of the Anastasis in the apse of the parekklesion (side chapel, in this case funerary), features Christ (in a luminous mandorla) trampling Satan along with his locks and keys of his prison of Hell, while raising Adam and Eve from their tombs.
John the Baptist, King David, and King Solomon are on the left, martyred saints are on the right.
Anastasis, apse fresco in parekklesion of the Church of Christ in Chora (now Kariye Museum), Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey, ca. 1310-1320
Spiritual figures float: conventionalized version of spiritual world, not observed from nature, but drapery returns to fluid classical style.
Annunciation, reverse of two-sided icon from Saint Clement, Ohrid, Macedonia, early 14th century. Tempera and linen on wood, 3′ X 2′ 2\”
Late Byzantine icons have paintings on two sides since they were carried in processions.
Virgin on the front.
Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will be the mother of God.
Her response is a gesture that conveys astonishment and acceptance.
Inconsistent perspective from classical prototypes
Diversity of stylistic sources

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