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Article

Asinou  

Susan Young

[Gr. Panagia Phorbiotissa: ‘Our Lady of the Pastures’]

Byzantine church in Cyprus, situated on the west side of the island, 4 km south-west of the village of Vizakia. The church was originally part of the monastery of the Phorbia (destr.), and a marginal note in a synaxarion copied in Cyprus or Palestine in 1063 indicates that the manuscript once belonged to this monastery. The church is renowned for its well-preserved cycles of wall paintings and painted inscriptions, two of which attribute the foundation and decoration of the church to Nicephoros Ischyrios, the Magistros, in 1105–6. A third, damaged inscription mentions a certain ‘Theophilos’ and ‘the people’, who were probably responsible for a programme of redecoration in 1332–3. The wall paintings were cleaned and restored in 1965–8 by Ernest Hawkins and David Winfield under the auspices of the Center for Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC.

The church is a single-aisle structure with a semicircular apse and barrel-vaulted nave supported by transverse ribs and engaged piers, forming three blind niches in the north and south walls. In plan it resembles the parekklesion of the Cypriot monastery of St John Chrysosthomos, but it does not have a dome. Although the original walls were of stone mortared with mud, probably in the late 12th century, yellow sandstone of better quality was used for the construction of a domed narthex with north and south absidioles; this arrangement is found elsewhere in Cyprus, at the monasteries of St John Chrysosthomos, and the Panagia Apsinthiotissa. The church was later given a secondary steeply pitched wooden roof of a type common among the Cypriot mountain churches....

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

Roger Stalley

[Gael. Cluain Moccu Nóis]

Monastery in Co. Offaly, Ireland. Clonmacnois was one of the most celebrated Early Christian monasteries in Ireland, famed for its learning and artistic patronage and best known today for an outstanding collection of monuments and stone carvings. The monastery was founded by St Ciaran in 548 (or 545 according to some authorities) on a commanding site above a bend in the River Shannon. Located in the heart of the country, it enjoyed the patronage of a number of Irish dynasties and benefited particularly from the O’Conor kings of Connaught, several of whom were buried there. What started as a small religious community became the core of a monastic city, with much commercial activity and hundreds of lay inhabitants (in one incident in 1179 no fewer than 105 houses were burnt). Associated with the monastic workshops are such major items of Irish metalwork as the shrine of the Stowe Missal (...

Article

Roger Stalley

Site of an early Christian monastery in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Set in a steep valley on the eastern edge of the Wicklow Mountains, the monastery owed its origin to St Kevin (d ad 618), who chose this wild, lonely spot as the site of a hermitage. A century later it had become a flourishing monastery, teeming with pilgrims and students; it retained its vitality until the end of the 12th century despite the sequence of fires, plunderings, and other disasters mentioned in the annals. The chief relics of the ancient monastery are an impressive round tower and the ruins of at least nine Romanesque or pre-Romanesque churches scattered for about 2 km along the valley. The intractable archaeological and chronological problems associated with the monuments are compounded by the restorations and rebuildings carried out by the Board of Works in 1875–9.

It is generally agreed that St Kevin’s original hermitage lay to the west, beside the upper lake; some interesting structures on the cliff side include the foundations of a ...

Article

Susan Pinto Madigan

In 

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 and Susan Pinto Madigan

[Komnenian dynasty; Comnenian dynasty]

Line of Byzantine emperors and art patrons (1057–1185). The Komneni were prolific builders and commissioned numerous works in a variety of media. Alexios I Komnenos (reg 1081–1118) and Manuel I (reg 1143–80) both made additions to the Great Palace (see Istanbul §III 12.) and to the Blachernai palace at Constantinople. Literary sources speak of their decoration as elaborate and influenced by Islamic art; one building in the Great Palace was entirely designed in Seljuk style. Wall paintings and mosaics celebrating imperial exploits and conquests became particularly popular in Manuel’s reign, and are known to have adorned the walls of his palaces. Manuel’s patronage also extended to the Holy Land, where he paid for parts of the decoration of the Holy Sepulchre and, together with King Amalric of Jerusalem, financed the mosaic decoration of the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (1169).

Among the most important examples of Komnenian ecclesiastical architecture are the Monastery of Christ Pantokrator, founded by John II (...

Article

Byzantine monastery founded c. 1090 in the Kyrenia district of Cyprus, c. 7 km north-west of Kythrea. Its katholikon, which was demolished in 1891 except for its east and north walls, was originally an inscribed octagon and had a narthex with projecting absidioles. (This arrangement was also adopted for the monastery church of Panagia Apsinthiotissa, 3.5 km north-west of Koutsoventis.) The frescoes of the parekklesion (see Cyprus §III), which lies to the north and which is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, were restored by Hawkins in 1963. The plan of the parekklesion has been described as an ‘inscribed-cross in embryo, lacking both the corner compartments and the lateral arms of the cross, but carrying a cruciform superstructure’ (Megaw). This plan did not originate in Cyprus, but it found favour there, as demonstrated by 12th-century churches of Trikomo and Lagoudera (see Lagoudera, Panagia tou Arakou). Its largely brick construction, with arcading around the central dome, also suggests influences from outside....

Article

Byzantine church c. 40 km south-west of Nicosia, Cyprus. It is decorated with a nearly complete programme of outstanding frescoes, which were restored by Winfield between 1968 and 1973; an inscribed painting of the Holy Tile above the door bears the date December 1192. The church may have been built originally as a private chapel, for its distance from the village suggests that it did not serve as the community church. The monastery buildings that enclose it were added later at an unrecorded date and were still occupied when a Russian pilgrim, Basil Barsky, sketched the site in 1735.

Traces of earlier paintings indicate that the church was constructed some time before the decoration of 1192. Architecturally it belongs to a type popular in Cyprus, the inscribed cross in embryo (see Koutsoventis, St John Chrysostomos); it is a domed, single-aisle structure with three arched recesses in both the north and south walls and an eastern apse. The west wall was later demolished to make room for a vestibule. In the 18th century the whole building was covered by a protective, tiled roof extending to a latticed enclosure....

Article

Byzantine church on the Karpas peninsula of Cyprus c. 85 km north-east of Nicosia. The original basilica church was probably constructed in the late 5th century and restored after the Arab raids of the mid-7th. A second major restoration, perhaps after an earthquake c. 1160, is attributed to the late 12th century, when the church received a narthex, a dome and three barrel-vaulted aisles.

This building is known principally for a fragmentary mosaic (probably c. ad 526–30; untraced), formerly preserved in the irregularly shaped conch of the apse until it was stolen between 1974 and 1979. It originally occupied the entire conch and was composed of a central mandorla showing the Virgin seated on a lyre-back throne with the Child on her lap. The combination of these iconographical elements has been interpreted as a relatively early depiction of the Incarnation, a theme apparently originating from Constantinople (Megaw and Hawkins). The presence of the mandorla may also have signified an assertion of Chalcedonian doctrine (Sacopoulo). An archangel and a palm-tree were depicted on either side of the mandorla; 12 medallion busts of the Apostles and one of St Paul were on the fore-edge of the conch. Ten of these portraits were completely or partly preserved and identified by inscription. The mosaic combines both formalizing and classicizing stylistic elements....

Article

Srdjan Djurić

Byzantine monastery in the Republic of Macedonia, 5 km south-west of Skopje. It was founded by the imperial prince Alexios Komnenos, the grandson of Alexios I Komnenos (reg 1081–1112), and the date 1164 is given on the lintel of the church’s main door. Little remains of the conventual buildings, but the church, which was restored in the 1960s, contains some of the finest frescoes in Macedonia, executed by a 12th-century artist from Constantinople. It is cross-in-square in plan, with a domed octagonal drum and four smaller square drums rising from the centre and corner bays respectively. The eastern bays serve as forechoirs of the main apse and are accessible from both the altar and nave, while the western pair of bays form separate chapels accessible only from the narthex. These architectural features are similar to those found in other churches of the Komnenian period. The exterior of the Nerezi church is built in cloisonné masonry with colonnettes and carved capitals decorating the recessed windows. The sculptural decoration inside the church includes an elaborately carved iconostasis and a plaster frame around the fresco-icon of the church’s patron, St Panteleimon, depicting peacocks drinking from a kantharos....

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

Susan Young

Byzantine monastery c. 8 km north-east of Paphos in Cyprus. In 1159 the founding hermit Neophytos (b 1134), originally from the island, transformed a natural cave into his retreat, and by c. 1200 a community had grown up around the site. Much of the original coenobitic complex, the Enkleistra, including Neophytos’ cell, a tomb chamber, a chapel and a sanctuary dedicated to the Holy Cross, has survived, together with the decoration. Neophytos’ revised Typikon of 1214 and several of his writings on the organization and development of the community have also been preserved. The katholikon is a domed basilica dating from the first decade of the 16th century.

In 1183 the cell, tomb chamber and sanctuary were painted by an artist who signed himself Theodore Apseudes. The fine quality of the frescoes, which were executed in the ‘Rococo’ style, points to his connection with a major artistic centre, possibly Constantinople. There can be little doubt, however, that the subject-matter and the locations of the paintings were chosen by Neophytos. Many of them reflect his preoccupation with death and salvation, and it has been observed that some convey a more potent message than is immediately apparent from the accompanying texts. In the cell the most striking image is that of the ...

Article

William M. Voelkle

Portable altar–reliquary (New York, Morgan Lib.), made c. 1156 for the Stavelot Abbey in the Ardennes, Belgium and decorated with both Mosan and Byzantine enamels (see fig.). The reliquary is named after the Benedictine abbey headed by Wibald of Stavelot, its enlightened abbot from 1130 to 1158. It is the first of a series of Mosan reliquary triptychs containing portions of the True Cross. Of these, only the Stavelot Triptych contains scenes from the life of Constantine and the legend of the finding of the True Cross by Empress Helena, his mother. Although two commissions by Wibald are documented (the St Remaclus Retable, destroyed during the French Revolution, and the Head Reliquary of Pope Alexander of 1145; Brussels, Musées Royaux A. & Hist.), the Stavelot Triptych is not. Wibald may have been given both the cross relic and the two small Byzantine enamel triptychs displayed on the centre panel of the Stavelot Triptych during his diplomatic mission (...