Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557)

Overview

The fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople to the Latin West in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade abruptly interrupted nearly nine hundred years of artistic and cultural traditions. In 1261, however, the Byzantine general Michael VIII Palaiologos triumphantly re-entered Constantinople and reclaimed the seat of the empire, initiating a resurgence of art and culture that would continue for nearly three hundred years, not only in the waning empire itself but also among rival Eastern Christian nations eager to ...

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Overview

The fall of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople to the Latin West in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade abruptly interrupted nearly nine hundred years of artistic and cultural traditions. In 1261, however, the Byzantine general Michael VIII Palaiologos triumphantly re-entered Constantinople and reclaimed the seat of the empire, initiating a resurgence of art and culture that would continue for nearly three hundred years, not only in the waning empire itself but also among rival Eastern Christian nations eager to assume its legacy. Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261–1557), and the groundbreaking exhibition that it accompanies, explores the artistic and cultural flowering of the last centuries of the "Empire of the Romans" and its enduring heritage.

Conceived as the third of a trio of exhibitions dedicated to a fuller understanding of the art of the Byzantine Empire, whose influence spanned more than a millennium, "Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261–1557)" followed the 1997 landmark presentation of "The Glory of Byzantium," which focused on the art and culture of the Middle Byzantine era—the Second Golden Age of the Byzantine Empire (843–1261). In the late 1970s, "The Age of Spirituality" explored the early centuries of Byzantium's history. The concluding segment "Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261–1557)" explored the exceptional artistic accomplishments of an era too often considered in terms of political decline. Magnificent works—from splendid frescoes, textiles, gilded metalwork, and mosaics to elaborately decorated manuscripts and liturgical objects—testify to the artistic and intellectual vigor of the Late and post-Byzantine eras. In addition, forty magnificent icons from the Holy Monastery of Saint Catherine, Sinai, Egypt, join others from leading international institutions in a splendid gathering of these powerful religious images.

While the political strength of the empire weakened, the creativity and learning of Byzantium spread farther than ever before. The exceptional works of secular and religious art produced by Late Byzantine artists were emulated and transformed by other Eastern Christian centers of power, among them Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Cilician Armenia. The Islamic world adapted motifs drawn from Byzantium's imperial past, as Christian minorities in the Muslim East continued Byzantine customs. From Italy to the Lowlands, Byzantium's artistic and intellectual practices deeply influenced the development of the Renaissance, while, in turn, Byzantium's own traditions reflected the empire's connections with the Latin West. Fine examples of these interrelationships are illustrated by important panel paintings, ceramics, and illuminated manuscripts, among other objects. In 1557 the "Empire of the Romans," as its citizens knew it, which had fallen to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, was renamed Byzantium by the German scholar Hieronymus Wolf.

The cultural and historical interaction and mutual influence of these major cultures—the Latin West and the Christian and Islamic East—during this fascinating period are investigated in this publication by a renowned group of international scholars in seventeen major essays and catalogue discussions of more than 350 exhibited objects. [This book was originally published in 2004 and has gone out of print. This edition is a print-on-demand version of the original book.]

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Editorial Reviews

Christopher Benfey
Yeats imagined Byzantium -- another multifarious world of East and West -- as an aesthetic utopia, with Grecian goldsmiths fashioning miraculous things ''to keep a drowsy Emperor awake.'' Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557), edited by Helen C. Evans, discerns a more complicated picture in the final phase of Byzantine art, when the Orthodox Church still knit a vast region, from Greece to Russia, together with a lively trade in miracle-working icons, relics of the true cross and pilgrimages to the holy Mount Athos.
The New York Times
Library Journal
Both lavish and hefty (it weighs almost seven pounds), this book has been issued in conjunction with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art's recent exhibition of the same name. The text covers the 300-year period starting with the restoration in 1261 of Greek Orthodox rule in Byzantium and demonstrates the artistic and cultural importance of this period primarily through the arts of the Orthodox Church. The book focuses on objects in the exhibit-350 examples of Byzantine art from 26 countries and the Vatican-with detailed descriptions written by over 100 scholars and curators drawn from around the world. The radiant gold iconic Virgins, frescoes, textiles, illuminated manuscripts, gilded metalwork, and other liturgical objects are beautifully reproduced, many for the first time. Expertly edited by Evans, curator of the museum's Department of Medieval Art, this comprehensive and scholarly work is highly recommended for academic libraries and larger public and high school libraries where there is a serious interest in religious art and world history.-Ann D. Carlson, Oak Park & River Forest H.S., IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300199574
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Pages: 658

Table of Contents

Statement
Sponsors' Statements
Director's Foreword
Acknowledgments
Lenders to the Exhibition
Contributors to the Catalogue
Note to the Reader
Map: Byzantium and Its Neighbors, 1261-1577 2
Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) 5
Revival and Decline: Voices from the Byzantine Capital 17
Catalogue numbers 1-33 26
Religious Settings of the Late Byzantine Sphere 65
Catalogue numbers 34-48 78
Sculpture and the Late Byzantine Tomb 95
Catalogue numbers 49-59 104
Liturgical Implements 117
Catalogue numbers 60-76 125
Images: Expressions of Faith and Power 143
Catalogue numbers 77-125 153
Images of Personal Devotion: Miniature Mosaic and Steatite Icons 209
Catalogue numbers 126-49 215
Precious-Metal Icon Revetments 243
Catalogue numbers 150-55 252
Manuscript Illumination in Byzantium, 1261-1557 259
Catalogue numbers 156-76 270
Liturgical Textiles 295
Catalogue numbers 177-200 300
The Icon as a Ladder of Divine Ascent in Form and Color 335
Catalogue numbers 201-42 341
Byzantium and the Islamic World, 1261-1557 389
Catalogue numbers 243-55 397
The Arts of Christian Communities in the Medieval Middle East 415
Catalogue numbers 256-71 427
Italy, the Mendicant Orders, and the Byzantine Sphere 449
Catalogue numbers 272-97 462
Venice and the Byzantine Sphere 489
Catalogue numbers 298-313 495
Byzantium and the Rebirth of Art and Learning in Italy and France 515
Catalogue numbers 314-28 524
"A la facon grece": The Encounter of Northern Renaissance Artists with Byzantine Icons 545
Catalogue numbers 329-55 556
Notes to the Essays 594
Bibliography 608
Glossary 642
Index 646
Photograph Credits 658
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