In 323 Emperor Constantine moved the capitol of the Roman Empire to Byzantium. It was then renamed Constantinople. The Eastern part of the empire developed differently then the Western. The Western Empire fell in 400's with an invasion from the northern Germanic Tribes. The Byzantium Empire (Eastern section) stayed in tact over a thousand years longer, till the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Turks. Constantinople was renamed by the Turks Istanbul, which is the the name it bears to this day. The art and architecture reflects differences between the Roman Catholic religion which develops in the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox religion which thrived in the East, in the Byzantium Empire. The Eastern Orthodox preferred a somber reflected tone to worship instead of the large congregational worship of the West. This focus is also reflected in their art and architecture. The figures in their art appear flat and one dimensional with little use of shadowing to give any life-like appearance. Figures are almost always from the front with somber and solemn looks coming from starring eyes. Faces were long and narrow. In all, very little attempt was made for realism in the painting and mosaic depictions. The development of the style of Byzantine Art was developed during the Fifth and Sixth centuries. From that time to the time the of the invasion by the Turks, very little change occurred in the style. During the Eighth and Ninth Centuries, the painting of people was prohibited by the iconoclasts . This was started by Emperor Leo III in 726. He stated that the painting of people was a form of idolatry and that all icons (painting of people) should be destroyed. This spilt the empire into two sections which became know as the Iconoclastic Crisis. The painting and mosaics came back again in the Ninth century till the fall of the Empire to the Turks. Sculpture was very limited in the Byzantine Era. The only sculpture which developed was limited mostly to small ivory book covers.
Interior (view toward the apse), S. Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna. 553 - 49 A.D. The Early Christian basilica "is only a shell whose shape reflects the space it encloses- the opposite of a Classical temple. This ascetic treatment of the exterior gives way to the utmost richness as we enter the church. Having left the everyday world behind, we find ourselves in a shimmering realm of light and color where precious marble surfaces and the brilliant glitter of mosaics evoke the spiritual splendor of the Kingdom of God."
Basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo The Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo was built in the 6th century by Emperor Theodoric s his royal palace chapel. Perhaps the façade was originally closed by a four sided portico, but now it is preceded by a simple but harmonious 16th century marble portico. On the right side there is a cylindrical bell-tower of the 9th or 10th century, characteristic of the buildings of Ravenna. From the ancient building we have the magnificent mosaics with the largest surface area which has come down to us from antiquity. The processions of Virgins and Martyrs represent one of the most typical examples of the Byzantine style.
Description The basilica is characterized by a great architectonic simplicity: it is made of bricks, its facade has a tympanum and is framed by two pilaster strips and pierced by a mullioned window with two lights surmounted by two small windows. Twenty four columns of Greek marble divide the interior into a nave and two aisles, the nave ending in a rounded apse. Renovations carried out at different times have considerably altered its shape and proportions . Heights were different and the chapels now set into the walls did not exist. The present mosaics cover the two side walls at the foot of the nave, from the ceiling to the top of the supporting arches, in three decorative fascias. The outer band depicts a procession of martyrs and virgins; the center one filling the areas between the windows, depicts majestic white-robed male figures (probably prophets) with nimbus and rolled scrolls or richly bound books, while the innermost fascia shows the Miracles and Passion of Christ. The Christ scenes occupy 26 panels, thirteen on each side, interspersed with other panels repeating the same symbolic motifs, and in a recess the shape of a conch shell, hangs a jeweled crown, while the, shell itself is surmounted by a cross flanked by two white doves. In the scenes from the Life of Christ, the continual repetition of these elements gives a certain rhythm to the unfolding story and seems to invite one to meditation. A procession of 26 martyrs leads from the palace to the apse: each haloed martyr has his name inscribed above and carries a crown in his veiled hands. The white-robed figures emerge from a golden background and step on a flowery carpet, led by St. Martin, with a purple mantle over his candid robe, a long line of figures wending its way towards the Enthroned Christ, in an attitude of blessing, flanked by four archangels.
Neutral gold background……. Least amount of info to tell story The Miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes, Mosiac above Clerestory, Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy
Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe It was built by Giuliano Argentario on behalf of Archbishop Ursicinus during the first half of 6th century. It is one of the most perfect Basilicas in Ravenna. Besides its architectonic structure, it is well-known for its mosaics and marble sarcophagi of former archbishops along the side naves.
The vault of the apse is fully occupied by the majestic figure of Sant'Apollinare with his arms in a praying position, in the middle of his flock symbolized by twelve sheep in a vast and flowing flowery valley surmounted by a symbolic representation of Transfiguration. On the upper register of the arch, in the middle, there is a medallion with the haloed portrait of Christ. On the sides, immersed in a group of many colored clouds, there are the symbols of the Evangelists.
Basilica of San Vitale Octagonal plan church, founded by Giulianus Argentarius, commissioned by Bishop Ecclesius and consecrated by the Archbishop Maximian in 548. The Basilica of San Vitale is among the most important monuments of early Christian art in Italy, above all for the splendour of its mosaics. The eastern influence, always presents in the architecture of Ravenna, has a dominant role here. No longer a basilica with nave and two aisles but a central octagonal plan, surmounted by a cupola and the whole supported on 8 pilasters and arches. The dome ceiling and the niches were decorated by frescoes painted in 1780 by Caféozzi and Gandolfi of Bologna and Guarana of the Veneto. It should be noted that the floor is kept dry by pumps since it is below the level of the water table. In the first part of the fifth century, the tiny city of Ravenna replaced giants Milan and Rome as the capital of the Roman Empire. Ravenna's seaport proximity to Constantinople made it an ideal governmental location, and under Justininan, Ravenna became the Italian seat of Byzantium. Justinian ascended to power in 527, ruling until 565 as pope as well as emperor of the Roman Empire. In doing so, Justinian was following the example set by his predecessor Constantine, who had been the first ruler to invoke caesaropapism , the emperor's power as both secular, governmental ruler and leader of the Christian faith
Interior (view from the apse into the choir), S. Vitale
The Second Coming is represented in the apse vault. Christ is sitting on the orb of the world, with four rivers of paradise beneath him and the rain bowed clouds above. A golden wreath is extended to Vitalis, the patron saint of the church, who is being introduced by an angel. Bishop Ecclesius, in whose time the church was built, is carrying a model of the church and Being introduced by an angel.
Emperor Justinian and His Attendants . c. 547 A.D. Mosaic. S. Vitale. The cluster of soldiers to Justinian's far right show a peculiarly medieval occurrence, the crowd phenomenon, in which there are more heads than corresponding feet. The sense of space is complicated by this crowd phenomenon and by the overlapping of the figures' feet -- many of them appear to be stepping on each other. Another quintessentially Byzantine feature is the large, wide eyes of the figures, all of whom stare out at the viewer and across the altar space towards Theodora. Portraits of Emperor Justinian and his wife Empress Theodora appear in the apse mosaics of the Church of St. Vitale, built on the site of the martyrdom of St. Vitalis . As propaganda, Justinian's role as the "regent of Christ on earth" is articulated in several ways. He is accompanied by twelve men, drawing a subtle comparison to Christ and the Twelve Apostles. The Emperor and Empress are perpetually present in Ravenna through their portraits. The portrait mosaics face each other from their positions across the apse: Justinian and his retinue are situated in the most holy place in the church, the right-hand (north) side of the altar, while Theodora and her attendants occupy the just slightly lesser left-hand (south) side of the altar. Justinian's image is both immediate in its individualization and eternal in its iconography. Set against a flat, timeless gold background, Justinian is richly dressed in a cloak of imperial purple, and a halo encircles his glittering crown. He holds a gold paten containing the Communion bread towards the altar, and is accompanied by other men, some bearing Christian objects:a censer, a jeweled cross, an ornately-covered book, and a soldier's shield displaying Christ's monogram, the Chi-Rho .
Empress Theodora and Her Attendants . c. 547 A.D. Mosaic. S. Vitale The luminous complementary image of Theodora and her entourage is less hieratic than that of Justinian though every bit as imposing. The Empress, accompanied by seven ladies of the court and two men, is placed slightly off center in the mosaic, but as she is haloed and set against a shell niche, her face is still the focal point of the image. Her attire is richly embellished with jewels and strings of iridescent pearls (at that time believed to have power in preventing sickness) drip from her extravagant crown. The modeling of her face and clothing is achieved through the use of color, a characteristically Byzantine stylistic feature. (Two examples are her upper lip which is darker than the lower lip; and the deeply shaded folds of her robes.) This image has a greater sense of depth with its architectural background than that of Justinian, but there is still some flattening, as can be seen in the skewed perspective of the fountain. The figures' gazes are not collectively directed towards the viewer. The group is standing in the anteroom of a church -- perhaps St. Vitale -- and one of the men is drawing back a curtain leading into the sacred area. Theodora extends her offering, a large chalice, to other man who will take it into the sanctuary. The image of the offering of gifts to the church takes on dual meaning in both the Theodora mosaic and the Justinian image: on one hand they are royalty presenting objects of value to the church, an idea further connotated by the image of the Three Magi who appear in the hem of Theodora's robes. Additionally, the Emperor and Empress are each offering the elements of the Holy Communion, extending the bread and the cup towards the actual altar of the church of St. Vitale. The reality is that neither the emperor or the empress ever visited San Vitale or Ravenna. Their images there are representative of their symbolic place in the Mass, in this particular monumental church.
Empress Theodora (detail Justinian as Conquerer. c. 525 - 50 A. D. Ivory, 13 ½" X 10 ½".
The Transfiguration, Apse mosaic in the Church of the Monastery, Mt. Sinai, c. 550-65 The apse mosaic probably dates to 565. The subject is the Transfiguration of Christ. Jesus appears in a blue mandorla (full body halo or “glory”) flanked by Elijah and Moses. At Christ’s feet are John, Peter and James. Portraits of saints and prophets are contained in the medallions that surround them in the frame. The figures are all rather stately and frontal. But the three disciples are in interesting and unusual poses with a frantic air of awe and amazement, gesturing as orants. “gesticulating...[in] frantic terror.” There is no landscape setting. only the gold field and a blue to green to yellow rainbow ground line. It is the world of mystical vision. At the foot of the mountain where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments, lies the monastery. Early Christian hermits, searching seclusion from worldly affairs, were living around the holy mountain since the early times of Christendom. After her visit to the impressive site of the Burning Bush Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, decided in 330 AD to let a chapel be build at the site; and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. Finally in 527 AD Emperor Justinian ordered the construction of a fortress. Above the heavy wooden entrance wooden frames carry the names of Justinian, his wife Theodora and the architect’s Stephanos.
Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus. Hagia Sophia , Istanbul, Turkey. 532 -537 A.D. Some twenty years after the consecration of the church, a severe earthquake caused serious damages to the dome and the eastern half-dome. During repairs these structures partly collapsed, destroying the Lord's Table, the ciborium and the ambo (May 7, 558). Reconstruction was entrusted to Isidorus the Younger. The dome was rebuilt steeper and of lighter materials and the supporting base was reinforced. The church was re-dedicated on December 23, 563.
The historian Procopius wrote: One would declare that the place were not illuminated from the outside by the sun, but that the radiance originated from within, such is the abundance of light which is shed about this shrine." -Gardner's Art Through the Ages The new Hagia Sophia belongs to the transitional type of the domed basilica using a central plan. Its most remarkable feature is the huge dome supported by four massive piers, each measuring approximately 100 sq. m. at the base. Four arches swing across, linked by four pendentives . The apices of the arches and the pendentives support the circular base from which rises the main dome, pierced by forty single-arched windows. Beams of light stream through the windows and illuminate the interior, decomposing the masses and creating an impression of infinite space.
Hagia Sophia is a domed central hall covering an area of around 107’ by 253,’ that bulges out trough the arcades and passages on all sides. The dome, which is the key feature, the structure is built to display, is 108’ in diameter, reaching 180’ above the floor. Though its dome is significantly smaller than that on the Pantheon—at 142’ in diameter and height—, the space it covers is vastly greater, as is the height of its dome. Where the Pantheon encloses one within powerful walls of mortar, Hagia Sophia seems to open up through its airy colonnades, arches, and windows. The predominant shapes are great rising window-filled arches supporting quarter-domes and semi-domes, rising up in a crescendo to the great dome floating over a brightly lit wreath of 40 windows. It is a spectacularly lit, airy space. Every surface is decorated by rich marbles and windows, pillars and windows, openings and mosaics. The walls were covered with mosaics, all of which were covered over by the Ottoman’s with plaster, except for the winged seraphim in the pendentives, which the Muslims left as archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Israfil . Most of the interior spaces are covered by groin vaults. The second story, that rings the open hall is the gynaeceum, or women’s gallery. Women and men were separated during the mass . “ “ floating dome of heaven”
Virgin and Child Enthroned . c. 843 - 67. Mosaic. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.
The monastery of Hosios Loukas consists of two churches, the Theotokos and the Katholikon. The Katholikon was built to house the bones of the monk Holy Luke. The mosaics in the Katholikon have been dated by Mouriki to the 1020's. Unlike earlier Byzantine churches, the exterior walls are ornamented with relieves. The Katholikon is a central plan with a dome placed over an octagon base placed on a cubed structure. The octagon is formed by squinches –arches or lintels that bridge the corners of the square. The emphasis of these later churches seem to be to create more complex and intricate structures. http://www.columbia.edu/ccnmtl/draft/davidvan/byzantium/
Multiple domes grouped along cross
Greek Cross plan
The Crucifixion. 11th century. Mosaic. Monastery Church, Daphne, Greece. One of the finest mosaics of the late period, ‘The Crucifixion,’ is an eleventh century mosaic found in the monastery Church of the Dormition in Daphne, Greece. The figure of Christ on the cross in this icon has a degree of anatomical realism not seen in previous mosaics. For example, Christ's face slumps to the left onto his chest. This plus the dark shadows under his eyes express the fatigue that the brutal act of crucifixion caused the victim. Blood spews from the wound in his side. The viewer experiences a human presentation of Christ which could not have happened without the Byzantine church fathers supporting the doctrine of the incarnation, God in the flesh. Furthermore, this realistic portrayal of Christ's suffering came about because the artist had turned to secular examples of the human body in Greco-Roman sculpture and painting. The primary reason for this choice came as a result of an imperial edict by Emperor Justinian in 726 AD, prohibiting the use of religious images. With the imperial ban, artists had no choice but to turn to ancient pagan examples, the unexpected benefit being a more sophisticated understanding of figurative form and its expressive power.
Monastery of St Panteleimon , Nerezi, Macedonia, 1164. Fresco showing the friends of Christ grieving after his descent from the cross. Shows much more emotion than the previous image.
The beautiful mosaics in Monreale Cathedral are said to be one of the world's largest displays of this art, surpassed only by Istanbul's famous Basilica of Saint Sofia, once an Orthodox church. (Unfortunately, many of those beautiful mosaics were destroyed when the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453.) Monreale's mosaics emblazon 6,340 square meters of the church's interior surface. The masterpiece and key representation of the whole cycle is the domineeringly majestic Christ Pantocrator (All Powerful) located on the central apse over the main altar. The Christ Pantocrator type icon originated more as an early Byzantine form. This icon became the most typically used in the high, main dome in the church then and for centuries to come. Pantocrator is the most popular icon of Christ. In Christ Pantocrator icons, Christ is facing directly frontally holding the Gospel, Book of Judgment or Orb in His left hand with raised right hand in blessing of the viewer, typically with a positioning of the fingers according to iconographic standards. Christ typically has a beard and halo with three "WHO" (or equivalent) symbols. Christ typically is painted with riveting eyes staring straight at the viewer, although later portrayals (in the past 200 years) sometimes show Christ's eye slightly averted. The Gospel Book is often closed, but later depictions often show an open book in the local language with specific words being a matter of choice.
Anastasis . c. 1310 - 1320. Fresco. Kariye Camii (Church of the Savior in the Chora Monastery), Istanbul
Virgin and Child Enthroned between Saints and Angels . Late 6th century A.D. Encaustic on panel. 27 X 19 3/8". The second commandment: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in Heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them." Iconoclasts = image destroyers Insisted on a literal interpretation of the Bible Believed images led to idolatry Wanted to restrict religious art to abstract symbols and plant or animal forms Led by the emperor Supported mainly by the eastern provinces Iconophiles = image lovers Believed that Christ and his image were inseparable Recognized that imagery served a useful, educational and inspirational purpose Led by the monks Supported mostly in the western provinces Icon = (Greek "eikon") image
The Virgin and Child" is another popular Byzantine subject for painted wood panel icons and mosaics. Like the image of Jesus, Mary and the Infant Jesus are also shown in an agreed-upon conventional way. Note the similarities of the pose and facial features of Mary as well as the appearance of the infant. Due the presence of candle soot and dirt, the paintings were often repainted bt inferior artists in later times. The faces still retain the original Byzantine look. In Russia, icon painting flourished for centuries. "The Vladimir Madonna" 12th Century icon, painted wood. 30 1/2" X 21" State Historical Museum, Moscow
An iconostasis is a wall that separates the Sanctuary where the Eucharist is celebrated from the part (nave) reserved for the believers, symbolizing the Divine world (the Sanctuary) being separated from the human world (the nave). The purpose of these “icon stackers” was to enable the worshipper to read pictorially. Hierarchy definitely was a factor. Usually the iconostasis consists of four or more rows or registers. The second row with the deisis (Deesis) is the most important. The word 'Deisis' comes from a Greek word meaning 'prayer' or 'intercession'. In iconographic language it represents a group of three persons: Christ, seated in majesty in the center, with his Mother to his right and John the Baptist to his left.