Byzantine Painting: Aesthetic principles and Οrthodox iconography

Course Information
TitleΒυζαντινή ζωγραφική: αισθητικές αρχές και ορθόδοξη εικονογραφία / Byzantine Painting: Aesthetic principles and Οrthodox iconography
SchoolSocial Theology and Christian Culture
Cycle / Level1st / Undergraduate
Teaching PeriodSpring
CoordinatorEleni Chrysafi
Course ID600019669

Programme of Study: UPS of School of Pastoral and Social Theology (2013-today)

Registered students: 42
OrientationAttendance TypeSemesterYearECTS
CoreElective CoursesSpring-4

Class Information
Academic Year2020 – 2021
Class PeriodSpring
Instructors from Other Categories
Weekly Hours3
Class ID
Course Type 2011-2015
Knowledge Deepening / Consolidation
Mode of Delivery
  • Face to face
The course is also offered to exchange programme students.
Language of Instruction
  • Greek (Instruction, Examination)
  • English (Instruction, Examination)
  • Italian (Instruction, Examination)
General Competences
  • Apply knowledge in practice
  • Retrieve, analyse and synthesise data and information, with the use of necessary technologies
  • Work autonomously
  • Work in an international context
  • Generate new research ideas
  • Advance free, creative and causative thinking
Course Content (Syllabus)
The course aims to delve into issues of aesthetic and iconographic analysis of images and representations in the Early Christian and Byzantine painting. The focus of the course is to examine: 1) the historical and social context as well as the theological and dogmatic background in which Christian iconography was developed, 2) the relations between Christian Iconography and Pagan art of Late Antiquity, 3) the main stages of formulation and evolution of Byzantine art and Christian iconography from the Early Christian to the Post-byzantine period. The course unfolds in the following 13 units: 1. Introduction: The historical-social-ideological-theological framework of the formulation of Christian iconography and Byzantine painting. - The Byzantine theology and philosophy of the Ιmage. - The sources of Byzantine iconography. 2. From the funeral portraits of Fayum to the beginnings of the Art of Byzantine icons. - The Early Christian painting in the tombs and catacombs (Rome, Thessaloniki, Coptic Egypt). 3. The formulation of Early Christian iconography. - The monumental painting until the Iconoclastic era: the testimony of the Early Christian monuments. - Iconographic types and compositions with Christ and the Virgin Mary in the decoration of the apse: symbolism, morphology and aesthetics. 4. Painting during Iconoclasm: the dogmatic-theological controversies and the non-iconic painting. 5. The evolution of Christian iconography during the Middle Byzantine period (9th-12th century). 6. Byzantine iconography of the Palaeologan painting in the Late Byzantine monuments (13th-15th century). - The decoration of the Dome of the Byzantine churches. 7. The formulation and evolution of the iconographic circles and compositions in relation to the dogmatic principles, the liturgical needs and the evolution of the Byzantine church architecture. 8. Byzantine portable icons: historical overview, materials, techniques. - Icons in walls, icons of the iconostasis, double-faced icons, relief icons, mosaic icons, icons-reliquaries. - Painters, workshops, donors. - The aesthetics of the Byzantine icons. 9. Byzantine illustrated manuscripts (secular and ecclesiastical): terminology, materials, tools, illuminators, scribes, workshops. - Historical overview of the painting of Byzantine manuscripts. - The aesthetics of Byzantine manuscripts: transcendental elements, the language of forms and the influence of the Liturgy. - The tradition and the role of the artists. 10. The portrait in Byzantium (emperor, Byzantine court, sponsors, donors): Iconography and Political ideology. - Artists in Byzantium. 11. The post-Byzantine iconographic tradition in Venice and in Latin-occupied and Turkish-occupied Greece. 12. Space-Composition-Light-Color in Byzantine painting: Dogmatic, iconographic, aesthetic and stylistic observations. 13. Visit to Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, which preserve their wall-painting decoration.
Byzantine art, Byzantine painting, Aesthetics of Byzantine art, Christian Iconography
Educational Material Types
  • Notes
  • Slide presentations
  • Multimedia
  • Book
Use of Information and Communication Technologies
Use of ICT
  • Use of ICT in Course Teaching
  • Use of ICT in Communication with Students
Course Organization
Reading Assigment401.6
Field trips and participation in conferences / seminars / activities110.4
Student Assessment
Students are assessed by oral exams at the end of the semester (100% summative assessment).
Student Assessment methods
  • Oral Exams (Summative)
Course Bibliography (Eudoxus)
Ν. ΠΑΝΣΕΛΗΝΟΥ, Βυζαντινή Ζωγραφική. Η βυζαντινή κοινωνία και οι εικόνες της, εκδ. Καστανιώτη, Αθήνα 2000.
Additional bibliography for study
M. ΑΧΕΙΜΑΣΤΟΥ-ΠΟΤΑΜΙΑΝΟΥ, Βυζαντινές Τοιχογραφίες, Αθήνα 1995. Π. ΒΟΚΟΤΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ, Βυζαντινές εικόνες, Αθήνα 1995. Γ. ΓΑΛΑΒΑΡΗΣ, Το βυζαντινό εικονογραφημένο χειρόγραφο. Προσφορά του καλλιτέχνη στο Θεό, Αθήνα 1994. Γ. ΓΑΛΑΒΑΡΗΣ, Ζωγραφική βυζαντινών χειρογράφων, Αθήνα 1995. Ν. ΓΚΙΟΛΕΣ, Μνημειακή χριστιανική ζωγραφική, π. 400-726, Αθήνα 1983. Ν. ΓΚΙΟΛΕΣ, Ο βυζαντινός τρούλος και το εικονογραφικό του πρόγραμμα (μέσα 6ου αι.-1204), Αθήνα 1990. Ε. ΔΟΞΙΑΔΗ, Τα πορτρέτα του Φαγιούμ, Αθήνα 1996. Γ. ΖΩΓΡΑΦΙΔΗΣ, Βυζαντινή φιλοσοφία της εικόνας. Μια ανάγνωση του Ιωάννη Δαμασκηνού, Αθήνα 1997. Κ. ΛΟΥΔΟΒΙΚΟΣ, Περί εικονογραφικής ιεραρχίας, Αθήνα 2004. Π. Α. ΜΙΧΕΛΗΣ, Αισθητική θεώρηση της Βυζαντινής Τέχνης, εκδ. Ίδρυμα Παναγιώτη και Έφης Μιχελή (η΄ έκδοση), Αθήνα 2015. Κ. ΜΠΑΡΟΥΤΑΣ, Το πρόβλημα της ελευθερίας στη βυζαντινή τέχνη, Αθήνα 2002. Ν. ΧΑΤΖΗΔΑΚΗ, Βυζαντινά ψηφιδωτά, Αθήνα 1994. R. CORMACK, Writing in Gold. Byzantine Society and its Icons, London 1985. A. GRABAR, La peinture byzantin, Geneve 1953. A. GRABAR, L’Iconoclasme byzantine, Paris 1957. A. GRABAR, Le premier art chrétien (200-395), Paris 1966. L. JAMES, Light and Colour in Byzantine Art, Oxford 1996. V.N. LAZAREV, Storia della pittura bizantina, Torino 1967. K. MARSENGILL, Portraits and Icons. Between Reality and Spirituality in Byzantine Art, Turnhout 2013. C.A. TSAKIRIDOU, Icons in Time, Persons in Eternity. Orthodox Theology and the Aesthetics of the Christian Image, Surrey-Burlington 2013. T. VELMANS, La peinture murale byzantine à la fin du Moyen Age, Paris 1977. K. WEITZMANN, Studies in Classical and Byzantine Manuscript Illumination, Chicago 1980. K. WEITZMANN, Byzantine Liturgical Psalters and Gospels, Variorum Reprints, London 1980.
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