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Jonathan Harris

[Johannes]

(b Trebizond (now Trabzon), Jan 2, 1402; d Ravenna, Nov 18, 1472).

Byzantine cleric and patron. Consequent on the negotiations for the union of the Western and Eastern churches (1438–9), in which he took a prominent part, Bessarion changed to the Latin rite and was created a cardinal by Pope Eugenius IV (reg 1431–47). He resided in Rome from the 1440s as Cardinal Bishop of Sabina and Tusculum and later as titular Patriarch of Constantinople, during which time he employed the considerable revenues that he drew from these appointments to restore churches including SS Apostoli (c. 560) in Rome and della Madonna del Monte (12th century) in Bologna where he commissioned frescoes (destr.) by Galasso Galassi (fl 1449–88).

Bessarion’s patronage was influenced by his Byzantine roots. The chapel of the Madonna di San Luca (1198) in Bologna probably benefited from his generosity because it contained an icon from Constantinople, while the Madonna of Bessarion...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

Susan Young

[St John Lampadistis]

Byzantine monastery in Cyprus, c. 50 km west of Nicosia. The only information concerning its foundation is that which can be gleaned from the three adjoining churches of the katholikon and their decoration. All are of different date with a narthex common to the central and southern churches. A massive, pitched, timber roof, of a type common among the Cypriot mountain churches, covers the complex.

The south church, dedicated to St Herakleidius, has a conventional cross-in-square plan, and probably dates from the 11th century. A painting, possibly of the 12th century, on the dado of the central apse, depicts two monks, possibly donors, in proskenesis; there are traces of an earlier painting beneath. A particularly interesting group of paintings (c. 1250–1300) comprises the Pantokrator, the Sacrifice of Isaac, the Entry into Jerusalem, the Raising of Lazarus, the Crucifixion, the Ascension, individual figures of Christ and the Virgin, prophets and saints. The ...

Article

Barbara Zeitler

Byzantine imperial dynasty of patrons. Between the reigns of Michael VIII (reg 1259–82) and Constantine XI (reg 1449–53), the empire underwent a last flowering of Byzantine art; at the same time there was a marked change in patterns of patronage. Constrained by financial difficulties, the imperial family was no longer the most important patron of the arts, although the artistic patronage exercised by women of the Palaiologan dynasty is notable. Courtiers and wealthy individuals were the major patrons of the period, for example Theodore Metochites (1270–1332) and Michael Theodore Doukas Glavas Tarchaneiotes, who respectively commissioned large parts of the decoration in Christ the Saviour in Chora (see Istanbul §III 3., (ii)) and in the church of St Mary Pammakaristos (see Istanbul §III 7.). The majority of the imperial commissions appear to date from before 1320, but losses since that time may have distorted our knowledge of Palaiologan patronage. Little has survived of the luxury arts; metalwork, for instance, was frequently made into coins. Among Palaiologan ecclesiastical foundations is the south church of the monastery of Constantine Lips (now Fenari Isa Cami) in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which was built between ...

Article

Debra Higgs Strickland

Early Christian allegorical and moralizing text about animals originally composed in Greek by an unknown author, probably during the 2nd century ad in Alexandria. The precise meaning of the name, Physiologus, is unclear, but it has been translated as ‘The Naturalist’ or ‘Natural Philosopher’. The text’s narrator discourses on the natural world, combining ancient animal myth and lore with biblical references in order to draw allegorical parallels between animal and human behaviour with references to Christ, the Devil and the Jews. For example, the hoopoe chicks’ diligent and loving care of their ageing parents is held up as an admirable example of obeying God’s commandment to ‘honour thy father and mother’. The panther, whose sweet breath attracts all animals except the dragon, is likened to the sweetness of Christ, which attracts everyone but the Devil. The unclean hyena, known to change its sex from male to female and back again, is compared to ‘the duplicitous Jews, who first worshiped the true God but were later given over to idolatry’. As testimony to its wide popularity, the Greek ...

Article

Anne-Mette Gravgaard, Nano Chatzidakis and Olga Etinhof

Term used to describe the art of Orthodox Christianity that developed after the fall of Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1453 and the dissolution of the Byzantine empire.

Anne-Mette Gravgaard

The Orthodox world post-1453 can be divided into three main spheres: the Athonite sphere, consisting of Orthodox territories under Turkish rule; the Venetian sphere, consisting of Venice’s possessions in the eastern Mediterranean; and the peripheral sphere, consisting primarily of Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Moldavia (partly Moldova, partly Romania), Wallachia (now in Romania) and Georgia.

The Athonite sphere was dominated by two great centres of Orthodox monasticism, Meteora and Mt Athos. The economic basis for undertaking monumental and icon painting was weaker than in previous centuries; there were no imperial or wealthy aristocratic patrons left, and, even though the Ottoman authorities did not interfere with spiritual matters, the Orthodox population was often harassed by financial exactions. The expensive production of mosaics had already ceased in the 14th century. The main aims of the Church were to survive and to safeguard Orthodoxy. This was reflected in a pronounced conservatism towards art and in persistent efforts to keep it free from Western contamination....

Article

G. I. Vzdornov

[Rus. Feofan Grek]

(b c. 1335; d c. 1410).

Byzantine painter, active in Russia. Only those works he produced on Russian soil have survived and he is therefore included in the history of Russian as well as Byzantine art. He is one of the few 14th-century artists in Russia about whom there is reliable documentary evidence. According to the chronicle sources he painted the church of the Transfiguration (Spaso-Preobrazheniye) at Novgorod in 1378 and three churches in the Moscow Kremlin: the Nativity of the Virgin (Rozhdestvo Bogoroditsy; 1395), the cathedral of the Archangel Michael (Arkhangel’sky; 1399) and, with Andrey Rublyov and Prokhor from Gorodets, the cathedral of the Annunciation (Blagoveshchensky; 1405); none of the paintings in these Moscow churches survives. The richest source of biographical material is a 17th-century copy of excerpts from a letter (c. 1415; see Vzdornov, 1983) from the monk and hagiographer Epiphanius the Wise (Premudry; d c. 1420) to Kirill, abbot of the monastery of the Saviour (Spassky) in Tver’. He describes the activities and working methods of Theophanes while in Moscow, thus confirming the authenticity of the chronicles’ information. He writes that Theophanes was of Greek origin and, before coming to Moscow, had worked in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Chalcedon, Galatia, Kaffa (now Feodosiya) in the Crimea, Novgorod and Nizhny Novgorod, and who painted over 40 stone churches. The letter relates that in addition to the three churches in the Moscow Kremlin, Theophanes painted the state treasury of Prince ...