Course Content (Syllabus)
The objective of the lesson is the familiarization of the students with the byzantine painting, that means the art that is expressed in many ways and manners, as the mosaics, the wall paintings, the portable icons and the manuscript illuminations are, so as to acquire an explicit and representative view for the development of the painting from the sepulchral art of the 3rd century until the palaeologan art throughout the whole Empire and even beyond its borders. Iconographical and stylistic topics are examined in the lectures combined with the byzantine policy and society and moreover with theological and dogmatic topics. During the lectures the students are encouraged to express their opinions and to develop their critical ability concerning the recognition and the dating of the examples.
Week #1 Introduction in the concept of the Byzantine Painting: analyzing the terms, periods, time and place, religion and ideology, society and esthetical view.
Sepulchral art: a. Fresco painting in the catacombs of Rome (end of 2nd – beginning of 5th cent.), b. Fresco painting in the tombs of Thessaloniki (3rd – 6th cent.) c. Mural painting in the chapels and monasteries of the Egypt (Bawit, El Bagawat, Saqqara) (5th -7th cent.).
Week #2 Floor mosaics 4th – 7th cent.: production centers, central and peripheral workshops, donors, thematic, evolution. Time and place: Eastern Illyricum, Italian peninsula, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, North Africa. 4th – 7th cent.
Week #3 Mural mosaic decoration (4th – 7th cent.): Official imperial art – ecclesiastical art and theological cases. Annotations on the thematic material. Mosaics in the West: Milan, Naples, Rome, Ravenna. Mosaics in Constantinople and Thessaloniki.
Week #4 Mosaics and mural paintings of 5th – 8th cent. Paradigms from Thessaloniki, Cyprus, Sinai, Bethlehem, Naxos, Rome, Castelseprio. Iconographical and stylistic cases, thematic enrichment and formation of new trends.
Week #5 Illustrated manuscripts of the proto-byzantine period: introduction, the development of the script from the 2nd cent. a. D. onwards, papyri, codices. Libraries - scriptoria, writers, illustrators, instrumenta studiorum. The tradition of Alexandria and Antioch. Secular manuscripts, illustrated bibles, illustrated gospels, purple codices. Paradigms from seven conserved manuscripts. Time and place: Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, 5th – 6th cent.
Week #6 Portable icons: terminology, meaning and use. Funeral cult and Fayum portraits. Encaustic technique. Icons from the pre-iconoclastic and from the iconoclastic period (Sinai, Rome). Dogmatic and iconographic interpretations. Style and dating.
Non-iconic decoration: pre-iconoclastic and iconoclastic examples. Eastern influence and Islamic art. Secular decoration in the Palace and in ritual buildings. Examples from the centre and the periphery (Naxos, Cappadocia, Rome). Co-examination of illustrated manuscripts of 9th cent. Beginning of the Macedonian renaissance. General principles of the post-iconoclastic iconographic program. Thematic enrichment. The place of the Mother of God and of Jesus. Time frame: 6th – 10th cent.).
Week #7 Middle byzantine painting – the Macedonian renaissance (867- 3rd quarter of 11th cent.). Political ideology – relations of the political and the ecclesiastical power. Large imperial donations. Donations of bishops and imperial officers, New monastic and bishopric centers – new artistic trends. Examples in Constantinople and in the periphery (Macedonia, Thrace, southern Greece and islands, Asia Minor). Comparisons to illustrated manuscripts.
Week #8 Evolution in the representation of the Virgin: typology and connection to dogmatic cases, historical events and major pilgrims. Paradigms from the monumental painting and the portable icons. Time frame: 5th /6th – 14th cent.
Week #9 Middle byzantine painting – the Comnenian period (c. 1080 – end of 12th cent.): the classical comnenian, the dynamic, the late comnenian “byzantine baroque”: examples from Constantinople, Thrace, Macedonia, Cyprus. The radiation of the comnenian tradition beyond the borders of the State: Russia, Sicily, Venice. Ideological and artistic definition.
Εβδομάδα #10 Late byzantine painting: a) 13th century. The art of dispersion and transition. Η ζωγραφική του 13ου αι. Examples from Thessaloniki, Serbia and Arta. The formation of the new tendencies. b) The painting of the restoration of the Byzantine Empire (after 1261) – the paleologan renaissance.
Week #11 The paleologan painting: The art in the age of Andronicus the 2nd (1282-1328). The artistic production in Thessaloniki and its radiation (1290 - 1320). Constantinople and the Monastery of Chora. Named artists and their signed works. Thessalonian painters in the Serbian court (1308-1320).
Week #12 The paleologan painting (2): Monumental painting in Mistra and its connection to Constantinople. Byzantine painting and portable icons in Russia: the case of Theophanes the Greek. A general estimation of the palaeologan painting, its place in European art and its impact in the formation of the post byzantine art.
Week #13 A visit to the Museum of Byzantine Culture especially for the exhibition of the mosaics, the frescoes and the portable icons.
Additional bibliography for study
Π. Ασημακοπούλου-Ατζακά, Ψηφιδωτά δάπεδα, Προσέγγιση στην τέχνη του αρχαίου ψηφιδωτού, Θεσσαλονίκη 2003.
Μ. Αχειμάστου-Ποταμιάνου, Βυζαντινές τοιχογραφίες, Ελληνική Τέχνη, Αθήνα 1995.
Π. Βοκοτόπουλος, Βυζαντινές εικόνες, Ελληνική Τέχνη, Αθήνα 1995.
Γ. Γαλάβαρης, Ζωγραφική βυζαντινών χειρογράφων, Ελληνική Τέχνη, Αθήνα 1995.
Ν. Γκιολές, Παλαιοχριστιανική μνημειακή ζωγραφική (π. 300-726), Αθήνα 2007.
A. Grabar, La peinture byzantine, Γενεύη 1953.
A.Grabar, L’iconoclasme byzantin, Paris 1957.
Iconoclasm, University of Birmingham,March 1975 (ed. A. Bryer–J. Herrin).
V. Lazarev, Storia della pittura bizantina, Τορίνο 1967.
C. Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453, London 1986.
Ν. Χατζηδάκη, Βυζαντινά ψηφιδωτά, Ελληνική Τέχνη, Αθήνα 1994.
K. Weitzmann, The monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai. The Icons, I. from the 6th to the 10th century, Princeton New Jersey 1976.