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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

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

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 ...

Article

Konjit Seyoum

(b Addis Ababa, 1949).

Ethiopian painter active in Switzerland. He graduated from the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts in 1971, comparing Byzantine and Ethiopian church paintings. He earned his BA (1972–6) at the Art Academy of Frankfurt am Main and moved to Switzerland in 1976, where he became a member of the Society of Swiss Painters, Sculptors and Architects (GSMBA). In 1983 he studied contemporary African-American art in Washington, DC. His work reflect his interest in abstraction, mural painting and magic scrolls as well as the influence of Gebre Krestos Desta and Skunder. Inspired by music, deep emotions, his surroundings and current events, his mostly acrylic paintings deal with social and political issues. His canvases are immensely rich in colour, filled with lines, rows of dots, circles, sparkling bubbles, magic scrolls, masks, birds, animals and rootlike creatures (e.g. Roots, 1996). Often Hiwet divides a painting with a crosslike form to create four distinct spaces, each with its own character and intensity but at the same time joined in one unique work forming a central image. He has exhibited in Ethiopia, Switzerland, Germany, France, the UK, Sweden and the USA....

Article

Icon  

Richard Temple

[Gr. eikon: ‘image’]

Wooden panel with a painting, usually in tempera, of a holy person or one of the traditional images of Orthodox Christianity (see fig.), the religion of the Byzantine empire practised today mainly in Greece and Russia (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §VI, and Post-Byzantine art, §II, 1). The word also has a range of related but disparate meanings, from the abstract and philosophical to the purely literal. For example, it is still used in modern Greek to mean an image or picture in the ordinary sense. In antiquity, Platonists and Neo-Platonists held that the material, earthly world reflects, or is the image of, the higher and divine cosmos; the Old Testament provides the theme of man as the icon of God in the temple of the world; and St Paul declared that ‘Christ is the icon of God’ (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus the idea of the icon is associated with cosmology and the theology of the Incarnation. In the Early Christian period, disputes over such questions as whether or not God can be known or depicted or the invisible can be seen were part of an intense debate surrounding the acceptability, meaning and function of images of Christ. All this was bound up with the complex questions of Christology that exercised the best minds of the period. Whole communities and nations were divided into Orthodox and heretics over the problem of defining the two natures of Christ, the relationship between his humanity and his divinity. The theory and belief system of icons was developed by theologians between the 4th and the 9th centuries, though only a few icons survive from then and up to the 12th century. Once established, however, the doctrinal principles never changed, and the study of icons is as much a matter of theology as of art. Subject-matter, form and composition did not deviate from the established dogma on which they depended; indeed, icons have been called theology in colour (Trubetskoy)....

Article

Evita Arapoglou

(b Ayvalık, Turkey, Nov 8, 1895; d Athens, July 13, 1965).

Greek painter, printmaker, hagiographer, and writer. An ardent believer in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine tradition, he left Ayvalık in 1913 to study painting at the School of Fine Arts in Athens. His studies were interrupted by World War I, during which he travelled to Paris with Spyros Papaloukas; he returned to Ayvalık in 1919, but after the Greco-Turkish War of 1922 he settled in Athens, where he spent the rest of his life. The Asia Minor disaster had a profound impact on his development in that he devoted himself to Byzantine iconography as, in his view, the genuine expression of the Greek spirit.

Working consistently throughout his life as a painter and writer, from 1930 he based his themes almost exclusively on Greek traditions, using an unpretentiously simple and direct language in both media. His work included small panel paintings (mainly icons and portraits), book illustrations, miniatures, drawings for mosaics and wood sculptures, lithographs, woodcuts, and frescoes in Greek Orthodox churches, for example, for St George in Kypseli, Athens (...

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

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

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 (...

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 ...

Article

Virginia Roehrig Kaufmann

[Ger.: ‘jagged style’]

Term used to describe the predominant painting style in German-speaking regions during the 13th century, derived from its characteristic zigzag or ‘broken-fold’ drapery forms. Its early development was largely due to the influence of Byzantine painting on German artists in the north-east (Lower Saxony, Saxon–Anhalt, and Thuringia). But in copying the Byzantine draperies, the northern artists exaggerated the patterns with decorative and expressive force, at the expense of the human forms beneath. Zigzagging drapery folds emphasize movement and lend the garment dynamic energy, as if it has a life of its own. Early examples include the Psalter (Stuttgart, Württemberg. Landesbib., MS. Bibl., fol. 24) made for Landgraf Hermann I von Thuringia (reg 1190–1217). Zackenstil occurs in the following decades in Franconia and the Rhineland, where it was adopted by workshops painting in all media. In these western regions, however, the style became increasingly influenced by French Gothic sculpture, giving it a new monumental plasticity (...