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Fernando Marías

[Theotokopoulos, Domenikos [Dominico ; Dominikos ; Menegos ]]

(b Candia [now Herakleion], Crete, c. 1541; d Toledo, April 7, 1614).

Greek painter, designer, and engraver, active in Italy and Spain. One of the most original and interesting painters of 16th-century Europe, he transformed the Byzantine style of his early paintings into another, wholly Western manner. He was active in his native Crete, in Venice, and Rome, and, during the second half of his life, in Toledo. He was renowned in his lifetime for his originality and extravagance and provides one of the most curious examples of the oscillations of taste in the evaluation of a painter, and of the changes of interpretation to which an artist’s work can be submitted.

El Greco appears to have belonged to a Greek Orthodox—more than to a Catholic Greek—family of officials who worked for the Venetian colonial service; his father was a tax-collector, and an elder brother combined this activity with that of trader and privateer. It is not known with whom El Greco trained, although ...


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....


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 ...