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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

A. Dean McKenzie

(fl c. 1290–1311). Byzantine painter active in Macedonia. ‘Astrapas’ (Gr.: ‘lightning’) is a pseudonym, and some scholars doubt that it refers to a particular artist. Although the name Astrapas appears together with the name Michael on the wall painting (1295) in the church of the Mother of God Peribleptos in Ohrid, it is not clear whether the two names belong to one and the same artist or two different people. It is also not possible to distinguish the style of Astrapas from that of Michael and Eutychios who also painted frescoes there. The signature of ‘Astrapas’ as painter appears in the exonarthex of the church of the Mother of God (Sveta Bogorodica) Ljeviška (1307–9) in Prizren, where his work has been associated with that of the so-called ‘Master of the Prophets’. Astrapas has also been credited with the frescoes (c. 1311) in the church of the Ascension in the monastery of Žića, in Serbia. His style of painting is characterized by dramatic composition and lively, lifelike figures achieved through the use of classicizing three-dimensional techniques and a palette of warm colours against dark blue backgrounds. His nationality has been disputed, some scholars believing him to be an itinerant Greek artist recruited from Thessaloniki into the service of the Serbian king ...

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

Slobodan Ćurčić

Byzantine monastery in the Kosovo region between Montenegro and Macedonia, 8 km south of Priština. It was founded by the Serbian king Stephen Uroš II Milutin (reg 1282–1321). The church of the Dormition (originally Annunciation; 1311–21) is all that survives and is one of the outstanding achievements of Late Byzantine architecture (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §II, 2, (iv), (c)). It was built on the site of two earlier churches. The dismantling of the second church—a small single-aisled 13th-century structure—is described in the monastery’s charter, as recorded on the west wall of the south chapel, and has been confirmed by excavations. Gračanica also served as the seat of the bishops of Lipljan, the probable heirs to the bishopric of Ulpiana, a Roman and Early Christian city c. 1 km to the west. Milutin may also have intended Gračanica’s church as his mausoleum.

Gračanica was a product of the political and cultural circumstances that prevailed in Serbia following Milutin’s marriage in ...

Article

Liliana Mavrodinova

Village in Bulgaria c. 40 km east of Vratsa. Painted caves on the banks of the adjacent River Iskar were in Byzantine times used as chapels or inhabited by hermits. Two of these chapels are particularly noteworthy: that of St Nicholas, also known as ‘Gligora’, which was built rather than carved from the rock, and the rock-cut chapel (5.50×3.90 m) consecrated to St Marina, which has one façade built in masonry. Both date from the 14th century and are now in poor condition; both have had their murals partly repainted.

The principal images painted in the chapel of St Marina include one in the conch of the apse showing the Virgin Greater than the Heavens (Platytera) holding Christ to her breast, and another lower down of the Eucharist, represented by Two Officiating Bishop-saints and the Holy Lamb placed on the paten; the scene of the Annunciation is divided between the two sides of the apse, while the figure of ...

Article

John Richards

[Deodata; Deodatus]

fl Lucca, c. 1280; d before 1331).

Italian painter. He was an eclectic and apparently prolific artist whose works record the transition from Italo-Byzantine painting of the 13th century to the Giottesque milieu of the 14th. They also indicate the importance of Florentine styles for Lucchese painting in his time. The earliest work attributed to him is a Crucifix with a living Christ (c. 1280; Pisa, Mus. N. S Matteo), and if this attribution is correct it suggests that his early development was influenced by Berlinghiero Berlinghieri. Deodato was probably the ‘Datuccius Orlandi’ documented in 1284, and in 1288 he signed a richly ornamented Crucifix for S Cerbone, Lucca (Lucca, Villa Guinigi). This was evidently strongly influenced by Cimabue, for example in the way the hair spills from the (rather larger) head on to Christ’s shoulder, although the figure of the dead Christ has none of Cimabue’s monumentality. The style is linear, largely devoid of chiaroscuro though not without grace, and the modelling is barely structural. Some attempt has been made to reproduce the translucent drapery of the Christ of Cimabue’s later Crucifix (Florence, Santa Croce), but the swaying body keeps closer to the axis of the apron than is the case with Cimabue’s versions. The terminal figures of St John and the Virgin are seen in three-quarter length....

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

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 ...