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Guiding Questions• How does Christian art reflect a dominant political power over a sustained, 1,000 year period? Hagia Sophia with interior pendatives, Istanbul, Turkey. The Hagia Sophia is such a powerful Orthodox symbol of power that it will later beconverted to an Islamic mosque when Arabic power comes to rule the region.
Guiding Historical Periods• Early Byzantine Period 527—726 CE Byzantium is the New Rome—prospering from trade with Asia and Europe and connecting The Black Sea with the Mediterranean. At the time, the Empire holds northern Africa, Sicily, much of Italy, and part of Spain. Ravenna is the Emperor’s capital in the West—an important port. It ends when iconoclasm becomes popular.• Middle Byzantine Period 843—1204 CEBegins when Empress Theodora reinstates the veneration of icons and ends in 1204, when Christian crusaders, on a mission tostamp out Islam, from the west occupy Constantinople and its wealth. The Empire is reduced to Turkey, Greece, and SouthernItaly, and Venice but extends into Russia and Ukraine.• Late Byzantine Period 1261—1453 CEBegins in 1261, when Byzantine (eastern) rule is reestablished after the Christian Crusaders are ousted and ends in 1453,when the Ottoman Turks take over the Empire and Russia succeeds Constantinople as the Third Rome and the center ofEastern Orthodoxy. Despite the dwindling Empire in terms of size, there is a period of resurgence in the arts—the PaleologueRenaissance.
Where in the world are we? While the Byzantine world is growing, the Medievalregion is developing. We will explore that region in a later chapter. Byzantine Regions Medieval Regions 5
San Vitale: A Distinct Architecture Theodora and Attendants Justinian and AttendantsSelf Study:The octagonal shape of San Vitale is meant to distinguishOrthodox architecture from Roman West (Catholic)architecture. The mosaics there are meant to give Justinianand Theodora a presence in a location they likely never View of Apsevisited.
Orthodoxy Orthodoxy does not recognize the power of the Roman Catholic Pope, and allows bishops to marry. But most importantly, it disagrees with the Catholic Church about the nature of Christ as so splits from Catholic doctrines in the Late Antiquity period. Orthodox churches will be ornamented according to a liturgical standard—the Theotokos will be in the apse, the Pantokrator will be in the Dome surrounded by the Apostles. Cathedral of SantaSophia, Kiev, Russia
Mosaics Though influenced by Roman techniques, Byzantine mosaics present Christian agendas for those initiated in the faith. With reflected light from candles, from sunlight, the mosaics can appear to glow, adding an ethereal element to worship. Byzantine mosaics are especially renown for the use of gold, creating an otherworldly location for religious and political figures to reside in. Through the mosaics, these figures are connected to divine worlds that rule over the earthly world. Saint Mark’s, Venice, Italy
Introducing the Major Figures of Byzantine Worship Theotokos (God Bearer) The Pantokrator is known for his halo, hand gesture and book; he is the Divine Judge. The Theotokos is known for her mantle and the man-baby Christ she holds. Remember: Mary is not worshipped but Pantokrator, Monastery at rather revered as a mediator Daphni, Greece on behalf of Christian believers.
The Monastic Life Monasteries are isolated and run on ascetic ritual. Monasteries the primary Monastery of Saint Catherine, Mount Sinai, Egypt producers of illuminated manuscripts and devotional objects. Art is a religious practice; it is not expressive Folio from Vienna Genesis, first known illuminated scripture, Syria or PalestineSelf Study: Monasteries are responsibleThe role of monasteries will change and will be different for the manufacturing ofin various regions of the Christian world. Compare the illuminated manuscripts— bound books of pages (vellumrole of monasteries in the Byzantine world with those of or parchment) decorated withthe Medieval world. miniatures of religious iconography.
Icons are devotional aids Icons and created in spiritual practice; Iconoclam they could and can be personal, portable objects or large screens that were used in processions to separate laity from clergy Iconoclasm is a movement of erasing or destroying religious icons. It is present throughout Christian history as a preemptive move to eliminate “idolatrous” worship, in keeping with the 2nd Commandment, though iconoclasm has not always Painter removing religious been accurate in its view oficon, from the Chludov Psalter what it considered idolatrous.
Review• As Christianity is legitimized by political power, Byzantine emperors seek to connect themselves to divine power. This is what political leadership has done since the time of the Sumerians.• Christian symbols become instruments of political messaging— architectural plans, Emperor portraits, etc…• We can see that Christianity experiences periods of iconoclasm• Throughout 1,000 years of Christian history, we move more and more toward naturalism (this will be true in Medieval art as well).