How To Order
The ordering process is simple via our website.
In the Gallery of each iconographer's displayed work you will find a form with necessary details for making contact and/or placing orders
If you are wishing to order an icon displayed in the gallery, or to commission a particular icon of your choice, this can be arranged directly with any of our iconographers.
If you see something you like on the website and would like an exact replica at the same size just supply the title of the icon (located below the image) and include it in your message to the iconographer along with any other requests or instructions.
Once you have ordered an icon the iconographer will contact you personally to make arrangements.
Timeframes and costs
Icons can take a long time to be created. A gessoed board to start with takes many days to be produced. So please bear in mind when ordering an icon that it can take at least 40 days and up to 3 months to be completed.
Icons are priced depending on the requirements or brief once the iconographer knows the amount of time and effort it requires. Our icons are truly traditional in egg-tempera and come with a certificate of authenticity from the Iconographer.
Please just make sure the image has enough detail to allow our Iconographers to replicate the image properly. To order a hand painted Icon, contact us and tell us what piece you are interested in and the approximate size of the piece.
Caring for your Icons
We make sure and guarantee you a high quality, lifetime traditional icon. But you do need to care for them too. You will not need to clean their surface with liquid cleansers or abrasive objects. A clean lint free cloth to wipe off the dust over time is the only thing required. Please keep icons away from direct sunlight.
What is Iconography?
Iconography is also referred to as "pictorial theology" where viewers would contemplate the meaning of scriptures through the images of icons that would "speak" to their heart.
The icon offers an external human expression of the holy transfigured state. By omitting everything irrelevant to the spiritual figure, the figure becomes stylised, spiritualised, not unrealistic but hyperealistic. The icon figure is thereby set aside from all other forms of pictorial art. Icons have been "written" for more than 1500 years and often they would express the characteristics of the country they originated from. Iconography took elements from other forms of art, remolded them pictorially and proved them theologically. At the beginning of the 20th century, the return to the Byzantine art was of great interest and today we see a re-emergence and interest from many Christian denominations.
It is imperative to know the traditional methods and the techniques of the great masters of iconography as a foundation to further improvement.
There are several rules ( theological and aesthetic ) in iconography, which must be preserved. It has a developing course and a very strong example is the excellent work of iconographers and muralists who opened a new road in painting, based on the same theological basis such as Emmanuel Panselinos,Theophanes the Greek, Theophanes the Cretan, Andrey Rublev etc...
In our digital age the purpose and functionality of icons is often argued. Of course, one could wonder whether the modernization of the orthodox iconography questions its authenticity. But the same developing course of the orthodox iconography in the Byzantine era shows that despite the fact that such a risk was possible, it won’t necessarily happen. The orthodox iconography can also adopt new and purely decorative artistic elements without losing its characteristic appearance and foundation.
by Charles Diehl
THE CHURCH of St. Sophia in Constantinople is the masterpiece of Byzantine art, and it is at the same time one of those monuments where some of the most characteristic features of that art appear most clearly. Thus if one would understand the nature of the Christian art of the East and in what its originality consisted, one must go first of all to this essential building-to this "Great Church" as it was called throughout the East during the Middle Ages.
When, in 532, the Emperor Justinian decided to rebuild the church which Constantine had formerly erected and dedicated to the Holy Wisdom-for this is the meaning of St. Sophia-he was determined that the new sanctuary should surpass all others in splendour. Ιn the words of a Byzantine chronicler, it was "a church, the like of which has never been seen since Adam, nor ever will be". Α circular was issued to all the provincial governors, instructing them to send to Constantinople the richest spoils in ancient monuments and the most beautiful marbles from the most famous quarries in the Empire. Το add to the magnificence of the building and dazzle the eye of the beholder by a display of unrivalled wealth Justinian determined to make a lavish use of costly materials, gold, silver, ivory, and precious stones. Α taste for the sumptuous in all its forms -a passion for splendour- is indeed one of the foremost characteristics of Byzantine art.
For the execution of his design and the realization of his dream the Emperor was fortunate enough to discover two architects of genius, Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus, both of whom, it must be borne in mind, came from Asia. Contemporary writers are unanimous in praise of their knowledge, skill, daring, and inventive power; and, since Justinian grudged neither money nor labour, the work progressed at an amazing speed. Ιn less than five years St. Sophia was completed, and οn 27 December 537 it was solemnly consecrated by the Emperor.
It has been truly said that the Great Church is "one of the mightiest creations in all architecture", a statement the truth of which is clearly shown by a close study of this famous monument. The impression given by the exterior is, it is true, by no means striking; a sixth-century Byzantine building, with its bare walls of brick, always presents a somewhat poor and monotonous aspect from without. But before entering the basilica, when one has crossed the space formerly occupied by the great atrium, surrounded by porticoes, and the narthex which opens into the church by nine doors, the effect produced by the interior is in truth incomparable. Α vast rectangle, 77 metres by 71.70 in area, forms a broad nave flanked by aisles with galleries above them which pass over the narthex and extend all round the church. At a height of 55 metres from the ground this central nave is crowned by an enormous dome, 31 metres across, which rests upon four great arches supported by four massive piers. Whereas the arches οn the north and south sides of the nave are filled by solid walls pierced with windows and carried on two tiers of pillars, those the east and west are buttressed by two semi-domes, each of which in its turn is supported by two great semicircular niches and in this way strength and balance are given to this astonishing central dome. An apse projects from the middle of the hemicycle which is covered by the eastern semi-dome; exedrae, embellished with columns, together with the arcades on the right and left serve to connect the nave with the aisles. But what most impresses the beholder is the dome - henceforth a characteristic feature of Byzantine architecture- which has truly been described by a sixth-centuy writer as "a work at once marvellous and terrifying", seeming, so light and airy it was, "rather to hang by a golden chain from heaven than to be supported οn solid masonry".
There was doubtless nothing new in such a plan. St. Sophia is related to the type of building, familiar in Asia Μinοr since the fifth century, known as the domed basilica. But, in virtue of its great size, harmony of line, boldness οf conception, and constructive skill, it appears none the less as a true creation -"a marvel of stability, daring, fearless logic, and science", as Choisy puts it. When on the day of its inauguration Justinian saw the fulfilment of his dream, one can well imagine that in a transport of enthusiasm he did indeed exclaim: "Glory be to God who hath deemed me worthy to complete so great a work. Ι have outdone thee, Ο Solomon !"
The decoration which covers the interior of St. Sophia is of equal significance in the history of Byzantine art, the splendour of its ornament designed to dazzle the beholder being no less characteristic than its masterly use of architectural forms. Τall columns of porphyry, white marble, and verd antique, crowned by marble capitals, wrought like goldsmith"s work and often picked out by touches of blue and gold, rise from the pavement of mosaic and marble, which has been likened to a garden where the rich lawns are strewn with purple flowers. Ιn the spandrels and round the soffits of the arches, delicate decorative carvings of an unmistakably oriental style, stand out around disks of porphyry and verd antique, like lacework against a dark ground. The walls are sheeted over with marbles of many colours, their tones blended as if by the most skilful of painters, giving the effect of rich and velvety oriental carpets. And above, on the curves of the vaults, on the pendentives, on the conch of the apse, the crown of the dome, and on the walls that fill the great lateral arches, brilliant mosaics shone out from the dark blue and silver backgrounds that the new art -and this was one of its most essential innovations- was beginning to substitute for the light backgrounds of Alexandrian painting. When St. Sophia had been converted into a mosque the Turks covered every representation of the human figure in these mosaics with a coating of whitewash or paint. Of recent years the process of uncovering the mosaics has been conducted under the authority of the Turkish Government;1 when the whole work is finished the church will recover still more completely its marvellous splendour. It must, however, be noted that most of the mosaics in Justinian"s church were of a purely ornamental character and that the majority of the figure subjects date from the tenth and eleventh centuries. But from the first the whole decorative scheme showed a wonderful sense of colour, which delighted in skilful combinations of tints and play of light; scorning simplicity, it aimed rather at a dazzling magnificence. Το this wonderful decoration, which fortunately still exists, must be added the lost splendours of the pulpit or ambo -the dull gleam of its silver mingling with the glitter of precious stones and the radiance of rare marbles- of the iconostasis in chased silver that enclosed the sanctuary, of the altar in solid gold, shining with rare jewels and enamels; and of the silver canopy or ciborium over the altar, enriched with silk and gold embroideries between its columns. Add to that the beauty of the lighting which at night made the church shine with a fiery splendour and proclaimed to sailors from afar the glory of Justinian and the end of their voyage. Contemporaries, one can well understand, could not sufficiently admire this St. Sophia, "the marvellous unique building which words are powerless to describe". Procopius records in moving language its effect upon the visitor. "Οn entering the church to pray", he says, "one feels at once that it is the work, not of man's effort or industry, but in truth the work of the Divine Power; and the spirit, mounting to heaven, realizes that here God is very near and that He delights in this dwelling that He has chosen for Himself." And one can understand that the popular imagination, which had attached a whole cycle of picturesque legends to the dome of St. Sophia, should, even several centuries later, have easily believed that God in His mercy had received Justinian into Paradise for the sole reason that he had built the Great Church.
Neither the striking success of St. Sophia nor the characteristic features of its style could, however, be understood or explained without presupposing a long period of patient research and resourceful experiment. From the day at the beginning of the fourth century, when by the will of Constantine Christianity became a State religion -and perhaps even before this splendid triumph- a great and fruitful artistic movement had developed during the course of two centuries and spread throughout the East, in Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Armenia, and elsewhere. This movement, which was to culminate in the triumph of the new style in the sixth century, naturally took a different form in different places; there was a Christian art peculiar to Egypt, one to Mesopotamia, and another to Αsia Minor, each of which had its own character. But beneath this diversity of form a few general principles can be traced which show themselves in certain essential features.
Christian art, as it took form in the East at the beginning of the fourth century, was faced by a twofold source of inspiration. On the one hand there was the classical tradition of Hellenistic culture still living and brilliantly fostered in the large cities, such as Alexandria, Antioch, and Ephesus; and οn the other, there was the oriental tradition, that of the old Iranian or Semitic East, which in contact with Sassanid Persia at this time came to life again througlιout the interior of Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Armenia, and drove back the Greek influence which had long been triumphant. Christianity in its hatred of paganism, though unable to cut itself off completely from the splendour of classic antiquity, gladly adopted the methods of these indigenous arts which had suddenly awakened from sleep, and willingly set itself to learn from the East. Hence was to arise this dualism of two opposing influences which would endure as long as Byzantine art itself; indeed it is the combination of these two influences which gives to Byzantine art its peculiar character. The debt of the new art to this double tradition we must now seek to define. From the beginning of the fourth century triumphant Christianity had covered the whole East with a wealth of sumptuous churches, and for these new churches new architectural forms were created. Alongside the Hellenistic basilica with its timber roof appeared the Eastern barrel-vaulted basilica (of which the origin, it seems, should be sought in Mesopotamia); while in addition to the plain rectilinear basilican form appeared the church of circular, octagonal, or cruciform plan. Ιn particular, the new architecture acquired from Iran the use of the dome, the model of which it found in the Persian monuments of Seleucia and Ctesiphon, and crowned with it the new types of building that it invented, such as the domed basilica, or the churches on a centralized or radiate plan. The dome was supported either by squinches (trompes d'angle) after the Eastern fashion, or, in the more scientific and more Greek manner, by pendentives.
Ιn the decoration of the churches a like development was taking place. Α rich and complicated ornamentation of a somewhat heavy and wholly oriental exuberance covered the walls with luxuriant foliage, in which a host of birds and other creatures disported themselves amongst curving arabesques. From the East came also the technique of this decoration, in which the contrasting blacks and whites alternating on the neutral background supplied by the lightly incised stone gave a charming effect of colour which is absent from the high relief and bold modelling of antique sculptured ornament. On the walls the harmony of classic proportion was replaced by the brilliant effect of polychrome marbles. From Persia came also the arts of enamel and cloison? work, and the lavish use of sumptuous and coloured fabrics. All this gave to the new art a definitely oriental character.
But the embellishment of the new churches consisted above all in the covering of their walls and vaults with long cycles of frescoes and resplendent mosaics, in which Christian heroes and the events of sacred story stand out against a background of dark blue. Ιn representing them the simple and familiar lines which early Christian art had favoured gave place to majestic and solemn figures of a more individual and realistic type; the primitive symbolism of former times was replaced by the historical and monumental style, and a new iconography arose for the illustration of the sacred themes.
Christian art undoubtedly retained many of the customs and traditions of pagan workshops -the secular motives, rustic themes, and mythological subjects dear to Alexandrian art; and from classical tradition it further inherited a feeling for beauty of design, dignity of pose, elegance in drapery, sobriety, and clearness of treatment. But its chief aim in the decoration of its churches was the instruction and edification of the faithful. The wall-paintings and mosaics were intended to form, as it were, a vast volume open to the view of the illiterate, like a splendidly illuminated Bible in which they could learn with their eyes the great events of Christian history. From the first we find an attempt to illustrate the Sacred Books, and this illustration shows great differences of style in the different places of its origin. For the Gospels there was the version of Alexandria, still entirely under the spell of Hellenistic feeling and grace, and another version of Antioch, more dramatic and more faithful to realism. For the Psalter there was both an "aristocratic" version, imbued throughout with classic tradition, and a monastic or theological version, remarkable for its realistic style, search for expression, and close observation of nature. Thus can be traced side by side the two opposing traditions, which were by their combination to form Byzantine art.
As instances of the creations of this great artistic movement, we may mention the admirable basilicas still standing in the dead cities of central Syria, namely those of Rouweiha, Mchabbak, Tourmanin, Qalb Louz?, and the monastery of St. Simeon Stylites at Kalat Seman, justly called "the archaeological gem of Central Syria"; the oldest of the Armenian churches, the originality and influence of which must not, however, be exaggerated; those of Asia Minor, particularly that at Meriamlik in Cilicia, the earliest known example of a domed basilica, which seems to have played an essential part in the transformation of Eastern elements in accordance with the spirit of Greece; at Salonica, the fine basilica of the Virgin (Eski-Djuma), the domed basilica of St. Sophia, and that of St. Demetrius, which with its five naves, lofty columns, and its walls brilliantly decorated with splendid mosaics and marble facing was, before its destructiοn by fire in 1917, one of the wonders of East Christian art; especially also at Salonica the mosaics of St. George and those of the chapel of Hosios David; and at Ravenna, the Byzantine city where Oriental influences were paramount, the mosaics of the Baptistery of the Orthodox, and, perhaps the most exquisite example that survives of the Christian art of the time, the wonderful decoration of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.
It is primarily in the chief Hellenistic centres of the East -in "the triple constellation" of Alexandria, Antioch, and Ephesus- that we must seek the sources of the great movement from which the new art was to arise. Constantinople, though the capital of the Empire, seems to have played a far smaller part than these three cities in the development of Christian art in the fourth and fifth centuries. But if she created little herself at that time, she has the great honour of having welcomed the varied elements offered by different regions within the Empire, of having co-ordinated, transformed, and hallowed them through the construction of a great masterpiece. It was in Constantinople that an "imperial art" arose in the sixth century: an official art, the essential aim of which was the glorification of God and the Emperor, an oriental art embodying the lessons both of Greece and of the ancient Asiatic East, an art complex and manifold, secular as well as religious; and it is in Justinian"s time that this art, which may henceforth be called Byzantine, has expressed itself fully and in a definitive form.
But St. Sophia is by no means the only creation of what has aptly been called the First Golden Age of Byzantine art. At this time, with unrivalled skill, use was made of every type of architectural construction: the Hellenistic basilica at Ravenna in Sant'Apollinare Νuovo (between 515 and 545) and Sant' Apollinare in Classe (between 534 and 549), and in the beautiful church of Parenzo in Istria (between 532 and 543); the domed churches built on a centralized or radiate plan of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (between 526 and 537) at Constantinople and of San Vitale (between 536 and 547) at Ravenna; the domed basilica type in St. Irene (532) at Constantinople; the five-domed cruciform church in the Holy Apostles (536-45) at Constantinople (destroyed by the Turks shortly after 1453), and in the Church of St. John at Ephesus, the ruins of which have been exposed by the recent excavations. Already we may see in several buildings the plan of the Greek cross soon to become the classic type of Byzantine churches. Never has Christian art been at one and the same time more varied, more creative, scientific, and daring. The characteristic features of St. Sophia appear in a number of other buildings; for example in the cistern of Bin-bir-Direk at Constantinople, which experts are inclined to recognize as the work of Anthemius, or in the aqueduct of Justinian, the work of an unknown master who was undoubtedly an engineer of great ability. In all these buildings we find the same inventive power, the same skill in the solution of the most delicate problems of construction, the same alert activity, and in each of the churches there was, as in St. Sophia, the same wealth of decoration in the form of carved marble capitals, polychrome marble facings-a notable example of which is the apse of the basilica in Parenzo -and above all, in the play of light upon the mosaics.
Of many of these great works there remains, alas, nothing but a memory. Ιn St. Sophia, as we have seen, only some of the mosaics of Justinian's time survive. The magnificent decoration of the Church of the Holy Apostles, one of the masterpieces of sixth-century art, is known to us solely from its description given by Nicholas Mesarites at the beginning of the thirteenth century: events in the life of Christ and in the preaching of Christianity by the Apostles were depicted in chronological order, and far above, in the height of the domes, there were represented the Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Ascension, and Pentecost. This decoration must have been one of the largest and most beautiful compositions of sixth-century Byzantine art, and it would seem that we must recognize in it the handiwork of an artist of genius. Α note in the margin of Mesarites' manuscript tells us that the artist's name was Eulalius. From another source we learn that Eulalius, with a just pride in his work, inserted his own portrait into one of the sacred scenes, namely that of the Holy Women at the Tomb, "in his usual dress and looking exactly as he appeared when he was at work on these paintings". This curious incident, doubtless unique in the history of Byzantine art, recalls to mind the practice of fifteenth-century Italian artists.
The greater part of the mosaics of St. Demetrius at Salonica have also perished, having been destroyed by the fire of 1917. They formed a series of votive offerings recalling the favours granted by the Saint-the only instance of this theme found in Byzantine art. Three panels alone of this beautiful decoration now remain, hanging, like icons, at the opening of the apse. One of them, which represents St. Demetrius standing between the founders of the church, is a masterpiece of vigorous expression and technical skill. It dates probably from the first third of the seventh century. It is in the West therefore, and above all at Ravenna, that we must look for works of Justinian's century.
Three of the Ravenna churches, namely Sant' Apollinare Νuονο, Sant' Apollinare in Classe, and San Vitale, still retain an important part of their mosaics. Ιn the first of these buildings there are three zones, one over another, representing scenes from the life of Christ, figures of saints and prophets, and two processions, one of male and the other of female saints, advancing towards Christ and the Virgin. Ιn the uppermost of these zones we may note the contrast between the series of miracles, still evidently inspired by the art of the Catacombs, and the cycle of the Passion, which is treated in a definitely historical style, and with obvious anxiety to detract in no way from the Divine Majesty. The two sumptuous processiσns of saints just referred to are worthy of special attention, for they have no parallel in Byzantine art. Their brilliantly clad figures in their charming poses suggest a distant memory of the Panathenaic frieze. From every point of view these mosaics of Sant' Apollinare Νuονο hold an important place in the evolution of Byzantine iconography. Of no less historic interest is the decoration of Sant' Apollinare in Classe where the curious representation of the Transfiguration appears as a last effort -at once complicated and subtle- of the symbolism of former days. But the most striking of all the compositions in the three churches is undoubtedly that in the choir of San Vitale. Round the altar are grouped episodes foretelling and glorifying the sacrifice of the Divine Lamb, and the whole design is inspired and unified by this sublime idea. Reminiscences of primitive Christian art are still blended with the feeling for realism and the sense of life and nature characteristic of the new style. The mosaics of the apse, a little later in date (about 547), show this style in its perfection. Ιn the conch is the imposing figure of Christ, seated οn the globe of the world, accompanied by saints and archangels. But most remarkable of all are the two famous scenes in which Justinian and Theodora appear in all the glory of their imperial pomp, portraits full of life and expression, astonishing visions rising from a dead past. These magnificent decorations, amongst the most precious creations of Byzantine art which we still possess, enable us to form an idea of the nature of profane art at Byzantium, where it held an important place beside religious art. Unfortunately all too few examples of it have survived. We see, too, how powerful an effect could be obtained by employing mosaic, and why this method of decoration persisted in ordinary use for centuries in Eastern churches, whether the aim was solemn grandeur or historical realism.
The same tendencies, the same interests, can be traced in all the artistic remains of the sixth century. Amongst existing fifth-and sixth-century illustrated manuscripts are some that are still throughout inspired by the Hellenistic spirit. Ιn the Genesis MS. in Vienna, which dates from the fifth century, sacred episodes are treated as scenes from everyday life; the characters are placed against a landscape or an architectural background, and many allegorical figures are introduced, such as nymphs of the springs, gods of the mountains, and personifications of cities and virtues. We find a similar treatment in the seventh-century Joshua Roll in the Vatican, which reproduces models of undoubtedly earlier date, and in the Vienna MS. of the Natural History of Dioscorides, illuminated in the sixth century for a princess of the imperial family, in which there appear, among allegorical and mythological figures, portraits of the author himself-a common feature of the illustration of ancient manuscripts. There is, however, already a development in the illustrations of the Christian Topography of Cosmas Indicopleustes, which are a creation of sixth-century Alexandrian art, although the earliest extant copy, now in the Vatican, dates from the seventh century. New themes, new types, of a more serious and solemn nature, characteristic of the historical and monumental style, are mingled with picturesque scenes inspired by the Alexandrian tradition. And it is this new spirit which prevails in two sixth-century manuscripts of the Gospels, namely the beautiful Evangelium of Rossano in Calabria, of which the miniatures often seem to be a copy of mosaics, and the Syriac MS. at Florence. Ιn each of these the richness of the ornament testifies to the growing influence of the East.
The same dualism is manifest in the figured textiles, which have been found for the most part in the Egyptian cemeteries of Akhmim and Antino?. The picturesque subjects which were the favourite motifs of Alexandrian art -mythological figures, genre scenes, dancing girls, and musicians- are followed under Persian influence by compositions in a different style, in which appear horsemen confronting each other, hunters, drivers of chariots, and also religious scenes; here more and more the supple freedom of Hellenistic art is replaced by the solemn realism of the monumental style, while the growing taste for polychromy is revealed in a richer and wider range of colours. The art of the sculptor shows similar tendencies. It is represented chiefly by carved ivories, for monumental sculpture tends to disappear and is reduced to a purely ornamental decoration. The Hellenistic style persists in such works as the Barberini ivory in the Louvre or the diptych of the archangel Michael in the British Museum. But for the most part Oriental influence predominates. A notable example is the celebrated throne of Bishop Maximian preserved at Ravenna, a masterpiece of technical skill and delicate craftsmanship. Here events in the life of Joseph, scenes from the life of Christ, and solemn figures of the Evangelists are placed in a richly decorated setting. Ιn the gold-and-silver-work from Antioch-as for example in the silver dishes from Kerynia (Kyrenia) in Cyprus and in the famous Antioch chalice, undoubtedly of the fifth or sixth century-we find the same note of realism, the same quest for truth combined with harmony and elegance.
Thus by the end of the sixth century Christian art in the East seemed to be transformed. More and more under Oriental influence it had gradually abandoned the graces of the picturesque Alexandrian tradition for the solemn and stately grandeur of the historical style. Ιn this development it had often shown novelty, originality, and creative power. It had proved that it could embody the glories and beauties of the Christian faith in great works of art, could invent individual and expressive types for the characters of sacred history, and give living and often dramatic representations of the events of Gospel history. Α great religious art had arisen, which, while always retaining something of classic tradition, had yet been strongly marked by Eastern influence. Ιn its application to secular as well as religious subjects this art had produced not only great churches but masterpieces of civil and military architecture. And in spite of the diflιcult times that followed Justinian's glorious reign, still in the seventh century it shone with unquestioned brilliance, as may be seen in some of the mosaics at Salonica and in the mosaics and frescoes of churches in Rome (St. Agnes, the Oratory of St. Venantius in the Lateran, the Oratory of Pope John VII, and the church of Santa Maria Antiqua). But notwithstanding its great qualities, this art tended to become fixed in those forms which tradition had consecrated. The Iconoclast revolution was, however, soon to reawaken and transform it by the introduction of fresh and living elements.
The Iconoclast Controversy, which disturbed the peace of the Empire from 726 to 843, was fated to have serious results for Byzantine art. The Iconoclast Emperors, though hostile to religious art, were by no means opposed to all display and all beauty. They had no liking for cold, bare churches, or for palaces without splendour, and were careful to put something else in the place of the images they destroyed. They sought the elements of this new decoration in the picturesque motifs dear to Alexandrian art, which, as we have seen, monumental art had progressively abandoned. They had a liking for landscapes full of trees and flowers, circus and hunting scenes, portraits, too, and historical pictures in which their victories were recorded. This was clearly a return to the classical tradition that sixth-century art had gradually eliminated, and thus was foreshadowed the freer and more flexible imperial art of the tenth and eleventh centuries, in which imitation of antique models went side by side with a taste for colour and ornament derived from the East, while its creative power would be revealed through close observation of nature and of life in its search for expressive and picturesque detail.
Ιn spite of persecution, however, religious art had by no means disappeared. Οn the contrary, it had gained during the struggle an unexpected freshness and vigour, as may be seen in certain manuscripts, such as the Chloudoff Psalter, which were illuminated at this time under the influence of the monastery of Studius and are full of contemporary allusions. Thus arose in the face of imperial art a monastic or popular art, which after the triumph of orthodoxy would more and more set its stamp οn the works of Byzantine art. We may infer that at the close of the Iconoclast crisis this art, under the influence of these two opposing currents, was ripe for a new renaissance. This renaissance, which has aptly been called the second golden age of Byzantine art, fills the period from the middle of the ninth to the end of the twelfth century.
What St. Sophia had been for the architecture of the sixth century, that the New Church, the Nea, built at Constantinople by order of Basil Ι, was for the end of the ninth -the characteristic, the typical construction that was to serve as a model for numerous imitators. Like St. Sophia it was approached through a vast and magnificent atrium, but internally all trace of a basilica had disappeared, its plan being that of an equal-armed cross inscribed in a square. It was crowned by five domes which were placed one at the intersection of the arms and the others at the four corners of the building. Doubtless no more than in the case of St. Sophia was this plan a completely new departure, for, from the sixth century and even earlier, it occurs amongst the typical forms of Byzantine architecture. But from the tenth century onwards it became extraordinarily popular, and, although it never entirely supplanted the earlier forms of construction, it appears thenceforth as the habitual, one may say the classic, type of Byzantine architecture. It occurs in Constantinople, where there is an excellent example in the church of the Mother of God (Kilisse Djami), dating apparently from the eleventh century, and also at Salonica in the Kazandjilar Djami (1028) and the church of the Ηοly Apostles (twelfth century). It is met with in Greece and Asia Minor, in Bulgaria, and Serbia, in Roumania, as well as in Russia. While the plan in its application varies considerably, certain common tendencies appear everywhere of which it is important to underline the characteristic features: (1) an external emphasis οn the main lines of the construction by means of four lofty vaults, ending in curved or triangular facades; and (2) the raising to a great height of the central dome by placing it on a lofty polygonal drum. Thus the somewhat heavy cubical mass of the older buildings is replaced by a more elegant and harmonious grouping of a series of diminishing vaults which combine to form a kind of pyramid, culminating in the central dome which completes the graceful outline of the whole. There was a like attempt to give more space and air to the interior of the building by substituting slender columns for the massive piers that formerly supported the dome, while the monotony of straight lines was relieved by hemicycles at the ends of the narthex or by a triapsidal termination of the sanctuary. Thus these Byzantine churches gained something of the grace and vigour of Gothic cathedrals. And, greatest change of all, charming and skilful combinations of colour appeared οn the external facades in place of the severe and depressing bareness of the great blank walls of former times. This was effected by alternations of red brick with white rubble, to form geometrical patterns, such as chequers, key-patterns, crosses, lozenges, circles, and stars. Additional brilliance was attained by the use of glazed earthenware vessels and faience tiles. The curve of the apse was decorated with arcades and tall hollow niches, and the whole building was enlivened by the play of the contrasting colours of the decoration. At Constantinople in the churches of Kilisse Djami, Fetiyeh Djami, of the Pantocrator or Zeirek Djami, at Salonica in the church of the Holy Apostles, in Greece at Merbaca, and in Serbia at Krusevats and Kalenic, are preserved charming examples of this style of decoration, which, gradually becoming richer and more complicated, lasted till the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. All this shows to how great an extent Byzantine architects were able to give expression to their inventive talent and their desire for novelty in spite of the apparent fixity of forms. Their art was by no means clumsy, dry, monotonous, or bound by rigid formulas; it was οn the contrary distinguished throughout its history by astonishing diversity of type, by creative power, and by a scιentific handling of problems of constructional equilibrium, no less than by the life which inspired it.
If to-day one wishes to form some idea of the magnificence of a Byzantine church during the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries, one should visit St. Mark's at Venice. Doubtless the Venetian basilica, built on the model of the church of the Holy Apostles in Constaritinople, differs in plan from that of the equal-armed cross inscribed in a square which was the ordinary type in Byzantine architecture at this time, but with the five domes that form its crown, with its decoration of many-coloured marbles which covers the walls both within and without, in the lofty columns of the nave, and the pierced and delicately carved screens, in the glowing mosaics and the reredos of dazzling enamel set above the altar, in its atmosphere of purple and gold, it realizes the ideal of this art in which colour holds pride of place. By the richness of its mosaics, by the brilliance of its gold, by the splendour of its rare marbles St. Mark's appeared to the Venetians (in the words an inscription in the basilica) as the glory of the churches of Christendom. For us it stands as the living embodiment of Byzantium during the centuries of her revived magnificence.
Besides these great religious monuments, civil architecture produced its own masterpieces in the shape of the imperial palaces. Nothing remains above ground of the Great Palace,2 which rose tier upon tier on the slopes which climbed from the sea to the hill upon which now stands the mosque of Sultan Ahmed; nothing remains of the palace of Blachernae at the north-western end of the landward walls whither the residence of the Emperors was moved from the twelfth century onwards; their magnificence is, however, fully attested by the descriptions of contemporary writers. The Great Palace, to which almost every Emperor from Constantine until the tenth century had taken pride in making additions, consisted of a prodigious variety of splendidly decorated structures. We learn that in those of the ninth century the influence of Arabian art was clearly visible. As a whole, the Sacred Palace of Byzantium was not unlike the Kremlin of the Muscovite Czars, or the Old Seraglio of the Ottoman Sultans.
The beauty of the decoration is in keeping with these features of the architecture. To-day on entering one of these twelfth-century churches, such as that of Daphni (near Athens), or that of St. Luke the Stiriote in Phocis, St. Mark's at Venice, or the Palatine Chapel at Palermo, and above all if one enters a church on Mt. Athos, one is at first sight bewildered by the wealth of Gospel scenes and figures of saints with which the walls and vaults are covered. The arrangement of the designs is, however, by no means fortuitous; it was a profound idea which inspired and ordered the disposition of the whole. The successful presentation to the eyes of the faithful of the doctrines of the Church through this new system of decoration was assuredly one of the finest creations of the art of Byzantium during the ninth and tenth centuries. The main object of sixth-century church decoration had been, as we have seen, to record upon the walls of the churches scenes from the Gospel story; now, however, it is dogma and liturgy that are to be expressed in the decoration. Once history had taken the place of symbols, now in its turn history gives way before theology.
Each cycle of scenes occupied in fact a special place in the church in conformity with a profound theological conception. At the crown of the dome the Heavenly Church was represented by the glorious and awe-inspiring image of the Christ Pantocrator surrounded by angels and prophets and dominating the assembly of the faithful. Ιn the apse the Church on Earth appears in its loftiest manifestation, that of the Virgin, praying for humanity, or enthroned between two archangels; and beneath her, over the altar, are other scenes, such as the Communion of the Apostles or the Divine Liturgy, which called to mind the mystery of the Eucharist. Ιn the rest of the building devoted to the Church on Earth the saints and martyrs, heroes and witnesses of the Christian faith, are ranged in hierarchical order; while above them were scenes from the Gospels representing the twelve great feasts of the Church, through which the essentials of Christian dogma are expressed. These are the Annunciation, Nativity, Presentation in the Temple, Baptism, Raising of Lazarus, Transfiguration, Entry into Jerusalem, Crucifixion, Descent into Hell, Ascension, Pentecost, and Death of the Virgin. Νο attempt was made to arrange these scenes in chronological order, but prominence was given to those of the deepest dogmatic significance, so as to draw to them more forcibly the attention of the faithful: thus at St. Luke the Stiriote's and at Daphni special places are set apart for the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Again, on the western wall of the church, over the entrance, was the vast composition representing the Last Judgement. Minor episodes, such as the Washing of the Disciples' Feet, and the Doubting of Thomas, complete a great decorative scheme in which, in the words of a theologian, "all the mysteries of the Incarnation of Christ" were combined. Lastly, scenes from the life of the Virgin were generally represented in the narthex.
At the same time iconography was enriched by the creation of new subjects and of new types, more individual, more expressive, inspired by a greater realism and sincerity. Under the influence of the Apocryphal Gospels scenes from the life of the Virgin took an increasingly prominent part in church decoration. Certain new subjects now make their appearance, such as the Descent into Hell, the Dormition of the Virgin, and the Communion of the Apostles, which are plainly inventions of artists of genius. Here, too, there is creative power which does honour to the Byzantine art of the tenth and eleventh centuries, and it is no small proof of its achievement that these models dominated for centuries the decoration of churches throughout the whole of the Christian East.
The "New Church" has long vanished. Nothing remains of its mosaics in which the precise formula of the new system of decoration seems for the first time to have reached its full expression, but already some of the later mosaics of St. Sophia have been disclosed, while outside the capital Eastern Christendom can still show several examples of these combinations of theological scenes which are of very real importance and of a living interest. Thus dating from the beginning of the eleventh century there is the church of St. Luke's monastery in Phocis, its mosaics and the marble veneering of its walls almost intact and not marred by any restoration; and from the end of the same century the mosaics of the church of the monastery of Daphni, near Athens, have justly been called "a masterpiece of Byzantine art". Between the beginning and the end of the eleventh century the successive stages in the development and progress of the new art are illustrated in a series of other buildings, such as St. Sophia of Kiev (mid-eleventh century), wιth its mosaics and its curious frescoes representing Byzantine court life and performances in the hippodrome; Nea Moni in the island of Chios, unfortunately seriously damaged; St. Sophia of Salonica, which has a representation of the Ascension in the dome; the church of the Dormition of the Virgin at Nicaea, completely destroyed in the Greco-Turkish war of 1922; the cathedral of Torcello, famous for its great Last Judgement; and in St. Mark's at Venice, which also dates from the end of the eleventh century, the decorations of the three domes of the nave and the cycle of the great feasts of the Church on the curve of the great arches.
It is remarkable how much all these works still owe to ancient tradition. Some, particularly those of Daphni, are almost classic in their feeling for line, sensitive drawing, and delicate modelling. The beauty of the types, the elegant drapery, and harmonious grouping of some of these compositions show to what an extent the influence of antiquity persisted, despite impoverishment, as a living force in Byzantine art. Οn the other hand, it is from the East that this art acquired its taste for a picturesque and vivid realism, and especially the feeling for colour and its skilful use which constitute one of the chief innovations of the eleventh century. Painting was formerly inspired in great measure by sculpture; sixth-century mosaic figures often resemble statues of marble or of metal. But this sober character now gives way to a variety, a complexity of effects, and a richness that mark the advent of a colourist school. The blue grounds of an earlier period are replaced by gold ones, already at times enlivened by the introduction of decorative landscape or architecture. Against these backgrounds of gold the bright hues of the draperies, the interplay of complementary colours, and the neutral tones of incidental features are all combined; the technical skill of the artist matches the refinement of his work; it is one of the characteristic features of this great artistic movement.
Many of these works and still more the representations of secular subjects drawn from mythology or history which decorated the imperial palace and the houses of the great nobles of this period are derived from this imperial art which was steeped in memories of antiquity, but was freer and more elastic and showed a genuine creative power. But οpposed to this official art and very different from it both in spirit and in method there was a monastic and pοpular art, more realistic and dramatic, which, under the growing influence οf the Church, progressively freed itself from the traditions of Hellenism and in the end ousted imperial art imposing its own more rigid and austere programme. The tendencies of this religious art are seen in the newly discovered frescoes of the rock churches of Cappadocia and in those which decorate the chapels of hermits in southern Italy. They appear even more clearly in illuminated manuscripts. It was the ecclesiastic and monastic influences that finally prevailed, fixing the types, stiffening the poses of the figures, and eliminating everything that seemed too much the outcome of individual fantasy, or too suspect of ancient paganism. Nevertheless, for a long time the two opposing schools reacted upon each other; they had many qualities in common, and they shared in one and the same endeavour to inspire with a new spirit the art of Byzantium.
The truth of these observations is borne out by a study οf illustrated manuscripts. The epoch of the Macedonian and Comnenian Emperors (from the end of the ninth to the end of the twelfth century) was unquestionably the most brilliant , period of Byzantine miniature painting. Many fine manuscripts have come down to us from this time, several of which, illuminated expressly for Emperors, are real masterpieces, revealing the character and the dominating tastes of the age.
What strikes one most in these works is the two opposing tendencies by which they are inspired. Without dwelling on the relatively considerable part played in the art of this time by the illustration of classical works (such as the Nicander in the Biblioth?que Nationale at Paris and the Oppian in the Marcian Library at Venice), in which there is an obvious return to the traditions of Alexandrian art, we notice even in religious manuscripts the same current of antique inspiration. Instances of this may be found in the beautiful psalters of the socalled "aristocratic" series, a particularly fine example of which is the tenth-century psalter now in the Biblioth?que Nationale at Paris; in illustrated manuscripts of the Gospels, a whole series of which shows the characteristics of the Hellenistic school of Alexandria; and, in a whole group of manuscripts of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, in which an essential place is taken by picturesque scenes of everyday life and by episodes borrowed from mythology. The influence of this imperial and secular art is seen also in the very expressive portraits that adorn some of these manuscripts, for instance those of the Emperor Nicephorus Botaniates (in the Biblioth?que Nationale in Paris) who appears in several miniatures with his wife or some of his ministers, and the fine portrait of Basil ΙΙ in the Venice psalter.
But this imperial art was strongly countered by the monastic tendency. Against the "aristocratic" psalter stands the psalter with marginal illustrations, in a more popular and realistic style. In contrast to the Alexandrian version of Gospel illustration, we find the Eastern version from Antioch; and side by side with the literary and secular type of the miniatures of the manuscript of Gregory of Nazianzus there is the theological type, a fine example of which is the beautiful manuscript executed for Basil I in the Biblioth?que Nationale of Pariw. Thiw monastic art had assuredly no less creative power than its imperial rival: witness the illustrations of the Octateuch, where at times a distinctly novel effect is produced by the turn for realist observation which has made contemporary dress and manners live again for us; witness also the beautiful ornament, inspired by the East, that covers with a profusion of brightly coloured motifs the initial pages of many Gospel manuscripts. But in these miniature paintings, as in the larger works of Byzantine painting, one notes the progressive weakening of classical tradition and the increasing ascendancy of religious influences. The sumptuous Menologium in the Vatican Library, illuminated for Basil ΙΙ, is somewhat monotonous and shows an obvious anxiety to conform to the traditional "canon", notwithstanding the apparent variety of subject and the skill of the eight artists who illustrated it. And the triumph of the monastic spirit is still more evident in twelfth-century manuscripts, such as that containing the Homilies of James the Monk. Art became more and more subject to the rule laid down by the Council of Nicaea in 787; "it is for painters to execute, for the Fathers to order and to prescribe". Ιn the end the Church succeeded in making her doctrinal and liturgical tendencies prevail. But it is none the less a fact that the miniature painting of the Second Golden Age, as conceived by the artists of the imperial school, with their love of incident, landscape, and the picturesque, contributed largely to prepare the development from which the last renaissance of Byzantine art arose.
Α further noteworthy characteristic of all the works of this period is the taste for magnificence and display. With its love of luxury and passion for colour, the art of this age delighted in the production of masterpieces that spread the fame of Byzantium in the Middle Ages throughout the whole of the Christian world. Amongst these were the beautiful silks from the work-shops of Constantinople, triumphs of Byzantine industry, portraying in dazzling colour animals -lions, elephants, eagles, and griffins- confronting each other, or representing Emperors gorgeously arrayed on horseback or engaged in the chase. There were also carvings in ivory, precious caskets adorned with classical or secular motifs, or, as on the casket at Troyes, with figures of Emperors, together with diptychs, such as the tenth-century plaque in the Cabinet of Medals at Paris, on which Christ is shown crowning Romanus ΙΙ and Eudocia (tenth century). This is one of the finest achievements which Byzantine art has bequeathed to us. There were ivories carved with religious subjects, such as the Harbaville triptych in the Louvre (tenth century), the Sens casket, the Virgin from the former Stroganoff collection in Rome, now in the Cleveland (U.S.A.) Museum, and many others in which the lessons of classical tradition are combined with the inspiration of the East and with an observation of nature: there were bronze doors executed in a skilful combination of damascening with niello work, and the craftsmanship of goldsmiths and silversmiths, a fine example of which is the beautiful repouss? silver-gilt plaque in the Louvre, representing the Holy Women at the Sepulchre; and, above all, enamel-work, which Byzantium had borrowed from Persia, was specially popular in the tenth and eleventh centuries on account of its brilliant and gorgeous colouring. With a wealth of enamel the Byzantines adorned crosses, reliquaries, reredoses, icons, caskets and even crowns, rich bookbindings, and dresses for state occasions. Enamels, in fact, together with figured textiles represented the height of Byzantιne luxury. Α few beautiful examples which bear witness to the fine qualities of this art have happily survived: the reliquary at Limburg, which belonged to an Emperor of the tenth century; the twelfth-century Esztergon reliquary; the admirable figure of St. Michael in the Treasury of St. Mark's at Venice (tenth or eleventh century); the crowns of Constantine Monomachus and St. Stephen at Budapest; the cross of Cosenza; and the dazzling Ρala d'Oro over the high altar of the basilica of Venice. As Kondakov has truly said, "nothing shows more clearly than these enamels the gross error of those who talk of the stiffness and poverty of Byzantine art", and nothing else can so well account for its far-reaching influence.
From the tenth to the twelfth centuries Byzantine Constantinople appeared to the whole civilized world to be a city of marvels: in the words of Villehardouin, "the city sovereign above all others". Ιn the cold fogs of Scandinavia and beside icy Russian rivers, in Venetian counting-houses or Western castles, in Christian France and Italy as well as in the Mussulman East, all through the Middle Ages folk dreamed of Byzantium, the incomparable city, radiant in a blaze of gold. As early as the sixth century the range of its influence was already astonishing, and its art had exercised a potent influence in North Africa, in Italy, and even in Spain. From the tenth to the twelfth centuries this influence became yet greater; Byzantine art was at that time "the art which set the standard for Europe", and its supremacy can be compared only with that of French art in the thirteenth century. For any choice work, if it were difficult of execution or of rare quality, recourse was had to Constantinople. Russian princes of Kiev, Venetian doges, abbots of Monte Cassino, merchants of Amalfi, or Norman kings of Sicily- if a church had to be built, decorated with mosaics, or enriched with costly work in gold and silver, it was to the great city on the Bosphorus that they resorted for artists or works of art. Russia, Venice southern Italy and Sicily were at that time virtually provincial centres of East Christian art. The twelfth-century frescoes οf the churches οf Nereditza, near Novgorod, Pskov and Staraya Ladoga, and especially those lately discovered in St. Demetrius at Vladimir, repeat the creations of the masters of the Byzantine capital. The same may be said of the eleventh-century mosaics at Kiev in the churches of St. Sophia and St. Michael of the Golden Heads. The bronze doors preserved in the churches of Amalfi, Salerno, at Monte Sant'Angelo, and San Ρaοlο. Without the Walls are Byzantine works, as is likewise the beautiful fresco over the entrance to Sant' Angelo in Formis. The art which arose in the elenth century at the great Abbey of Monte Cassino and that which in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries decorated with mosaics the churches of Rome are profoundly marked by Oriental influence. By their style, arrangement, and iconography the mosaics of St. Mark's at Venice and of the cathedral at Torcello clearly reveal their Byzantine origin. Similarly those of the Palatine Chapel, the Martorana at Palermo, and the cathedral of Cefalu, together with the vast decoration of the cathedral at Monreale, demonstrate the influence of Byzantium οn the Norman Court of Sicily in the twelfth century. Hispano-Moorish art was unquestionably derived from the Byzantine. Romanesque art owes much to the East, from which it borrowed not only its decorative forms but the plan of some of its buildings, as is proved, for instance, by the domed churches of south-western France. The Ottonian renaissance in Germany in the tenth and eleventh centuries was likewise strongly affected by Byzantine influence which lasted οn into the twelfth century. Certainly one must not exaggerate either the range or the duration of the effect of the East οn the arts of the West. The artists who sat at the feet of Byzantine masters were not entirely forgetful of their national traditions, and Byzantine models tended rather, as has been said, "to awaken in them a consciousness of their own qualities". From the school of the Greeks they learned a feeling for colour, a higher technical accomplishment, and a greater mastery over their materials, and profiting by these lessons they were enabled to attempt works of a more individual character. It is none the less true that from the tenth to the twelfth century Byzantium was the main source of inspiration for the West. The marvellous expansion of her art during this period is one of the most remarkable facts in her history.
At about the same time Byzantium exercised a similar influence in Asia. The churches of Armenia and Georgia, though highly original, are linked by many features to the Byzantine tradition, and there is doubtless some exaggeration in attributing to Armenia, as has lately been done, a paramount influence in the formation of Byzantine art. Eastern Europe certainly received much from Armenia, but in this exchange of influences Byzantium gave at least as much as she received. Arabian art also profited greatly by her teaching. Though Byzantium undoubtedly learnt much from the art of Arabia, in return she made the influence of her civilization felt there, as she did in the twelfth century in Latin Syria.
From the end of the twelfth century one can observe a development in Byzantine art that was to have important consequences. In the frescoes of the church of Nerez (near Skoplie in Serbia), which are dated to 1165, there appears an unexpected tendency towards dramatic or pathetic feeling in the representations of the Threnos, or the Descent from the Cross. The frescoes of the Serbian churches of Milesevo (1236) and Sopocani (about 1250), and of Boiana in Bulgaria (1259), show in the expression of the faces a remarkable sense of realism and life; and in the thirteenth-century Genesis mosaics which decorate the narthex of St. Mark's at Venice we find landscape, architectural features, and an equally novel taste for the picturesque. These characteristic tendencies mark the beginning of a transformation in Byzantine art. Moreover the well-known intellectual movement in Constantinople of the fourteenth century brought about a revival of the classical tradition and a return to the ideas and models of Greek antiquity. These facts might lead us to expect, and do indeed explain, the new aspect which Byzantine art was to assume in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and that last brilliant renaissance in which it found its expression.
When fifty years ago mosaics dating from the beginning of the fourteenth century were discovered in the mosque of Kahrieh Djami at Constantinople, they revealed an art so different from that of the Byzantine monuments which were then known that they gave rise to much perplexity.They were at first taken for Italian work; it was proposed to credit them to some pupil of Giotto, who about this time was designing the frescoes of the chapel of the Arena at Padua in much the same style. Discoveries made in the East during the last thirty years have, however, demonstrated the falsity of this hypothesis and proved that the Kahrieh mosaics were by no means a solitary creation but one of a great series of works scattered over the whole of the Christian East. This powerful artistic movement can be traced in the frescoes which decorate the churches of Mistra in the Morea, as well as in the churches of Macedonia and Serbia: it appears in the churches of Roumania as at Curtea de Arg?s and in the Russian churches at Novgorod; it is even visible in the mosaics of the baptistery of St. Mark's at Venice. Of the Mt. Athos paintings, while the earliest date from the fourteenth century, those of the sixteenth show the last flowering of this great artistic revival. Ιn all these closely allied works the art is the same; everywhere we find the same love of life, of movement, and the picturesque, together with a passion for the dramatic, the tender, and the pathetic. It was a realistic art, in which a masterly power of composition was combined with a wonderful sense of colour, and thus in the history of Byzantine art it appears as both original and creative.
One must admit that this art was influenced to some extent by the Italian masters of Siena, Florence, and Venice; from them it learned some lessons. And in the same way it may be admitted that, as has been said, the fourteenth-century Byzantine painters sought at times to revive their impoverished art by imitating the narrative style of their own sixth-century models. Nevertheless imitation of Italy was always cautious and restrained, and it cannot be doubted that this art remained essentially Byzantine alike in arrangement, in style, and in iconography. Its incontestable originality and creative power are evidenced by the altered character of its iconography, which has become richer and more complex, reviving ancient motifs and at the same time inventing new subjects; it is manifested in its incomparable colour sense, which at times suggests modern impressionist art. These new qualities are in themselves the expression of a new aesthetic by virtue of which a particular value is attached to beauty of form, to technical skill, to graceful attitudes, and tο the portrayal of facial emotions. One can therefore no longer dispute either the definitely Byzantine character or the originality of this last renaissance (from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century) which may be called a Third Golden Age of Byzantine Art.
The architectural creations of this period need not long detain us. There are, however, some buildings worthy of note, such as the charming church of the Pantanassa at Mistra (first half of the fifteenth century) or that of the Serbian monastery at Decani (first half of the fourteenth century), both interesting examples of the combination of Western influence with Byzantine tradition. Their exterior decoration is also very picturesque, as is that of the Serbian churches of the Morava school (end of the fourteenth century). Οn the whole the Byzantine buildings of this time do little more than carry οn the traditions of the preceding period, and though we find in them great variety and can even distinguish different schools of architecture, such as the Greek and Serbian schools, there are few really original creations. Beautiful churches were still being built, such as the Fetiyeh Djami at Constantinople, the church of the Holy Apostles at Salonica, the Peribleptos at Mistra, or the church of Our Lady of Consolation at Arta, and many others; but though their architects made ingenious use of traditional forms, they seldom added anything new or individual.
Further, in the impoverished state of the Empire, the arts of luxury began to decline. The production of works in costly material -gold and silver- or of those which needed patient or difficult technical proficiency, such as ivories and enamels, seems to have been almost abandoned. Fresco painting, οn the other hand, which more and more took the place of the too costly mosaic, was of extreme importance in the art of this period. The flexibility and the wider possibilities of this medium responded better to the new tendencies of an art that aimed at refinement of execution and delicacy of colouring in its rendering of movement, expression, and the picturesque. For this reason the period from the beginning of the fourteenth century to the middle of the sixteenth, remarkable works of which are still extant, is perhaps the finest epoch in the history of Byzantine painting.
Between 1310 and 1320 the Great Logothete, Theodore Metochites, caused the church of the monastery of Chora in Constantinople (now the Kahrieh Djami) to be decorated with the beautiful mosaics still to be seen there. It is the masterpiece of the school that flourished in the capital at that time. In the series of scenes taken from the life of the Virgin and from the life of Christ which decorate the walls of the church we find a masterly power of composition, as, for instance, in the Distribution of the Purple, or the Taking of the Census before Quirinius; close observation, and often a singularly realistic rendering of life, as in figures of the scene where the Christ is healing the sick; a taste for the picturesque which finds expression in the landscapes and architectural features introduced in the backgrounds of the compositions, and in the tendency to transform sacred episodes into veritable genre scenes, as in the tenderness of the St. Anne at prayer in a flowery garden. The effect of the whole series was greatly enhanced by the brilliant and harmonious colouring with its deep rich tones and the lively play of its lighting. This church, which, in its founder's words, had assured him eternal glory amongst those who should come after him, is indeed a superb creation.
Similar qualities are found in the paintings in the churches of Mistra. The unknown master who painted the frescoes of the Peribleptos (mid-fourteenth century) has shown more than once, it has been truly said, the expressive power of Giotto himself, as for instance in his admirable rendering of the Divine Liturgy. One feels that these works are the product of an art of the utmost erudition and refinement, penetrated through and through by the influence of humanism and strongly attracted by the worldly graces that were always in the ascendant at Constantinople. The Mistra frescoes are also distinguished by a rare colour sense. From every point of view they may be regarded as the finest embodiment of the new style that arose in the first half of the fourteenth century.
The artists, certainly of Greek origin and probably summoned from Constantinople, who decorated for the Serbian princes the churches of Studenitza (1314), Nagoricino ( 1317), Gracanica, and a little later that of Lesnovo (1349), show the same high qualities in their work. Some of their compositions, such as the Presentation of the Virgin at Studenitza and the Dormition of the Virgin at Nagoricino have a peculiar charm, and the portraits of their founders in most of these churches are no less remarkable. Equally worthy of attention are the Serbian frescoes of the end of the fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth, such as those at Ravanitza, Ljubostinja, Manassija, and Kalenic.
But the influence of Byzantine art in the time of the Palaeologi extended even beyond Serbia and its neighbour Bulgaria. In the church of St. Nicholas Domnese at Curtea de Arges in Roumania there are some admirable mid-fourteenth-century frescoes - a masterpiece of composition and tender feeling. And even after the fall of Constantinople the picturesque churches of Northern Moldavia, so curiously decorated with paintings even οn the outside walls, carried οn the remote tradition of the wonders of Byzantium until the end of the sixteenth century. Ιn Russia the churches in and around Novgorod were decorated towards the end of the fourteenth century with remarkable frescoes, attributed to an artist known as Theophanes the Greek. Here, too, the Byzantine origin of these paintings is unquestionable; they afford another instance of the astonishing vitality and prestige of Byzantine art in its last phase.
Once again it was in the capital of the Empire that this last great movement in Byzantine art seems to have originated. At that time there was a brilliant school of art in Constantinople; many of its works have survived to testify to its excellence. From it, doubtless, were derived the two great currents into which the movement diverged, which have been called the Macedonian and the Cretan schools. Each of them had its own distinctive character. The former, open to both Eastern and Italian influence, owes to the East its realistic and dramatic style and the arrangement of the composition in long unbroken friezes, while from Italy came the tender feeling shown in certain gestures and the emotion expressed by certain attitudes, such as those of the Virgin Mother caressing the Holy Child or fainting at the foot of the Cross, or in the details of the grievous story of the Passion. Yet beneath this discreet borrowing the Byzantine foundation is always apparent. Ιn the origin of its master artists as well as by the nature of its themes this Macedonian school descends from Byzantium. It is marked by a broad and spirited technique, definitely characteristic of fresco painting.
By contrast the Cretan school was truer to Byzantine idealism: While not despising the graceful or the picturesque, it was remarkable rather for its lucidity, restraint, and aristocratic quality, which bear witness to its high ideal of distinction. It was characterized also by great technical skill. Its art was the refined and scholarly art of painters of easel pieces and subtle icons. Like the Macedonian school it had a profound knowledge of colour, which it applied with even greater skill and refinement, playing οn the scale of tones and combining tone-values into exquisite harmonies. It would seem probable that it sprang directly from the school that flourished at Constantinople and that it learned there the traditions of the imperial city.
During nearly three centuries these two great schools shared in guiding the course of art throughout Eastern Christendom. The Macedonian School flourished especially in the fourteenth century. Το this school we owe the paintings in the Macedonian and Serbian churches, which constitute one of the richest legacies which Byzantine art has bequeathed to us. From this school come the masterly frescoes of Curtea de Arg?s, the decorations of the Metropolitan Church at Mistra, and those of several churches in and around Novgorod. At about the same time the influence of the Cretan school made itself felt at Mistra in the frescoes of the Peribleptos, which are doubtless its great masterpiece. From the end of the fourteenth century it ousted its rival in Serbia and in Russia, where the great master Theophanes the Greek was working; similarly in the sixteenth century it was to supplant it also in the monasteries of Mt. Athos, where the two opposing schools met for the last time.
Οn Mt. Athos in the fourteenth century the Macedonian school had been at first predominant. It had decorated the churches of Vatopedi, Chilandari, and notably that of the Protaton at Karyes, where the paintings which survive are perhaps the most remarkable of those οn the Holy Mountain. Then, in the sixteenth century, the Cretan school triumphed. We owe to it the decorations of the Catholicon of the Lavra (1535), of Dionysiou (1547), Dochiariou (1568), and many others. But at the same time the Macedonian school still retained its influence, and its work is seen in the refectories of the Lavra (1512) and of Dionysiou (1545). The two schools were represented by two great rival paιnters, namely Manuel Panselιnus of Salonica, and Theophanes of Crete. Το the former, a somewhat mysterious artist who has in turn been called the Giotto and the Raphael of Byzantine painting, the monks of Mt. Athos are ready to attribute every outstanding piece of work preserved in their monasteries. The Painters' Μαnual says that "he towered above all painters, ancient or modern, as is abundantly proved by his frescoes and panel pictures". He was the last and most illustrious representative of the Macedonian school. With no less distinction Theophanes of Crete, with his sons and pupils, represented the Cretan school, as may be seen in the paintings bearing his signature which survive in the monasteries of Mt. Athos and the Meteora. The admiration of contemporaries was divided between these two great artists. And it is a remarkable testimony to the versatility of this art that alongside of these clearly distinct schools one can also recognize powerful personalities, each having his individual style and manner.
There are other works from this last period of Byzantine art which still survive. First, there are the illuminated manuscripts. It is true that these miniature paintings seldom have the outstanding qualities characteristic of the preceding period. Α poverty of ideas, and these often rendered by childish daubs-such is the scornful judgement which has been passed οn them. Several works, however, such as the manuscript of John Cantacuzenus in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris, or the Serbian Psalter at Munich, lack neither beauty nor interest, and the vigorous and glowing colour of the latter has justly received high praise. The manuscript of the Chronicle of Skylitzes (preserved at Madrid) in its six hundred curious miniatures seems to reflect the historical wall-paintings which decorated Byzantine palaces. Ιn all these works one finds the same taste for the picturesque, power of realistic observation, and sense of colour which are found in the frescoes of that time. But apart from paintings οn a large scale it is icons and embroideries that appear to have been the favourite forms of artistic production from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. Ιn particular the masters of the Cretan school seem to have been great painters of icons, and indeed this form of art accorded even better than fresco painting with the new aesthetic of the age. There have survived also from the time of the Palaeologi a large number of works in mosaic and tempera. Ιn more than one instance there can be traced in these compositions the life and freedom, the love of the picturesque, and the tender feeling characteristic of fourteenth-century painting. The same may be said of certain masterpieces of embroidery, such as the so-called "Dalmatic of Charlemagne" to be seen in the sacristy of St. Peter's at Rome, or the beautiful Epitaphios of Salonica now in the Byzantine Museum at Athens, which are both undoubtedly works of the school of Constantinople. Ιn harmony of colour and beauty of design they both attain a very high level, and they display the same qualities that can be seen in the mosaics of Kahrieh Djami, in the frescoes of Mistra, and the paintings of Serbian churches. Thus all the qualities of Byzantine art are preserved in these works of the fourteenth century; everywhere in the picturesque or pathetic elements of their compositions, and in the matchless skill of their colouring, we find the same observation of nature and life, the same contrast between elegance and realism, and the same creative impulse. If moreover due account is taken of the great inventive power of the new iconography which made its appearance at that time, it is not possible to deny the originality of this last phase of Byzantine art, whatever its remoter origins may have been.
At this time once more, as in the sixth and as in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the influence of Byzantine art spread far and wide. We have seen how great it was throughout the Christian East, and how Russian icon painting in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries followed the teaching of Byzantium. Ιn the West, especially in Italy in the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, it was no less significant; and it has aptly been said that "the two worlds, so widely separated in language, religion, customs and ideas, seem to be in communion with each other through their art". We have mentioned some of the resemblances -gestures and poses, for instance- that seem to have been copied from Italian models. But Βyzantium in fact gave more to Italy than she received from her. A study tο the mosaics οf the Baptistery at Florence and the frescoes of the Baptistery of Parma, both of the thirteenth century, or of the remarkable paintings lately found in the church of St. Mary in Vescovio reveals the unmistakable imprint of Byzantine art. Duccio, in his famous reredos of the Maesta, and Giotto, in his frescoes of the Arena Chapel, have drawn freely from the treasury of Byzantine iconography, and in spite of all that is individual in their work it is evident that they owe much to the lessons and traditions of Byzantium. It is indeed hardly a paradox to maintain, as has been done, that Giotto was simply a Byzantine of genius.
Thus in the Christian East arose between the thirteenth and the middle of the sixteenth century a great artistic movement which displayed its real originality in many remarkable creations. It was the final effort of this Byzantine art which after the middle of the sixteenth century was gradually to become fixed in what has been called a "hieratic" immobility, in a lifeless repetition, from which there was no escape. The technical handbook known as The Painters' Μαnuαl clearly shows the importance of the place that workshop formulae were henceforth to take in the creation of works of art. Such manuals, dignified by the famous names of Panselinus and Theophanes of Crete, existed from the sixteenth century. But before it reached this decadence Byzantine art had had a glorious existence for many centuries. It was by no means, as has often been said of it, a stagnant art, incapable of self renewal, nothing more than the imitation during a thousand years of the works of those artists of genius who in the fifth and sixth centuries had given it a new form. It was a living art and, like every living organism, it had known development and transformation. At first in Justinian's century, then under the Macedonian and Comnenian Emperors, and again in the time of the Palaeologi, it knew successive periods of incomparable brilliance, each with its own characteristic differences. Not only so, but throughout every phase of its history it exercised a profound influence upon the world without. Such was Byzantine art, and for this reason it must always remain one of the most remarkable aspects of Byzantine civilization and one of its lasting glories.
Work by Lisa Ghent, prototype Hans Memling "Man of Sorrow" egg temera on wood