Earth and Ocean: The Terrestrial World in Early Byzantine Art

Overview

One of the most distinctive characteristics of Byzantine art of the later fifth and the sixth centuries AD is its fondness for imagery drawn from natural history. Wherever the visitor looks in churches of this period, whether it be to the floors, the walls, the furnishing, or the ceilings and the vaults, there may be representations of birds, beasts, sea creatures, and plants. These motifs from nature raise complex questions of meaning and significance, but often the works of art do not in themselves provide ...

See more details below
This Hardcover (Library Binding) is Not Available through BN.com
Sending request ...

Overview

One of the most distinctive characteristics of Byzantine art of the later fifth and the sixth centuries AD is its fondness for imagery drawn from natural history. Wherever the visitor looks in churches of this period, whether it be to the floors, the walls, the furnishing, or the ceilings and the vaults, there may be representations of birds, beasts, sea creatures, and plants. These motifs from nature raise complex questions of meaning and significance, but often the works of art do not in themselves provide clear answers to these questions, so that the modern viewer is unsure how to interpret them. The aim of this book is to draw on the great wealth of Early Christian literature on natural history incorporated into sermons and commentaries, and to show the connections between this exegetical literature and presentations of nature in art. By studying the parallels between art and literature it is possible to reveal the common patterns of thinking that may have inspired both artists (or their patrons) and writers.

Most of the works of art discussed in this book are floor mosaics, but also considered are portrayals of life of the earth and the ocean displayed on walls, vaults, and ceilings. The first of seven chapters contains an introductory discussion of the language of symbolism in early Byzantine art, especially with respect to portrayals of themes from nature. Each of the six subsequent chapters is devoted to a different interpretation of terrestrial nature, as seen both in art and in literature.

The second chapter is concerned with those writers and artists who interpreted the world created by God in an absolutely literal sense, reading no kind of symbolism or allegory into it, and the third chapter with those who interpreted most of Creation literally, but allegorized certain parts of it, so that they saw only some elements of natural history as Christian symbols. The next two chapters treat those who were willing to allegorize the world extensively, imposing elaborate superstructures of symbolic meaning onto the whole scheme of Creation. The sixth chapter is concerned with mosaics and commentaries which gave a moralistic purpose to their views of the earth, by portraying humanity's role in nature. Finally, the seventh chapter shows how portrayals of Earth and Ocean could also have had an imperial significance in early Byzantine art, in the decoration of churches as well as of palaces.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271004778
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/1987
  • Series: College Art Association Monograph , #43
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry Maguire teaches the history of art at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Art and Eloquence in Byzantium (1994).

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)