Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art



Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano


Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano


Domenico Ghirlandaio


Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli


masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of sain tfrancis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello


piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti



sandro botticelli

sano di pietro


simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio



Lamentation (Pieta) by the Master of Nerezi, 1164
Travel guide for Tuscany

Byzantine art

The Byzantine Empire, founded when the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred from Rome to Constantinople in 324, existed in the eastern Mediterranean area until the fifteenth century. The arts and culture of this "New Rome" continued the pan-Mediterranean traditions of the late antique Greco-Roman world, setting the standard of cultural excellence for the Latin West and the Islamic East.

Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 4th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. [1]

Until the late eleventh century, southern Italy occupied the western border of the vast Byzantine empire. Even after this area fell under Norman rule in about 1071, Italy maintained a strong link with Byzantium through trade, and this link was expressed in the art of the period. Large illustrated Bibles ("giant Bibles") and Exultet Rolls—liturgical scrolls containing texts for the celebration of Easter, produced in the Benevento region of southern Italy—enjoyed great popularity from about 1050 onward. Miniature illustrations in the Bibles, which relate to contemporary monumental wall paintings produced in Rome, were strongly influenced by early Christian painting cycles from Roman churches. After the sack of Constantinople in 1204 by Christian armies of the Fourth Crusade, precious objects from Byzantium made their way to Italian soil and profoundly influenced the art produced there, especially the brightly colored gold-ground panels that proliferated during the thirteenth century.
At the end of the thirteenth century and beginning of the fourteenth, three great masters appeared who changed the course of painting: the Florentine Giotto di Bondone (1266/76–1337), the Roman Pietro Cavallini (ca. 1240–after ca. 1330), and the Sienese Duccio di Buoninsegna (active ca. 1278–1318).
Giotto's figures are volumetric rather than linear, and the emotions they express are varied and convincingly human rather than stylized. He created a new kind of pictorial space with an almost measurable depth. With Giotto, the flat world of thirteenth-century Italian painting was transformed into an analogue for the real world, for which reason he is considered the father of modern European painting. Duccio, founder of the Sienese school of painting, brought a lyrical expressiveness and intense spiritual gravity to the formalized Italo-Byzantine tradition.[2]





Just as the Byzantine empire represented the political continuation of the Roman Empire, Byzantine art developed out of the art of the Roman empire, which was itself profoundly influenced by ancient Greek art. Byzantine art never lost sight of this classical heritage. The Byzantine capital, Constantinople, was adorned with a large number of classical sculptures, although they eventually became an object of some puzzlement for its inhabitants. And indeed, the art produced during the Byzantine empire, although marked by periodic revivals of a classical aesthetic, was above all marked by the development of a new aesthetic.

The most salient feature of this new aesthetic was its “abstract,” or anti-naturalistic character. If classical art was marked by the attempt to create representations that mimicked reality as closely as possible, Byzantine art seems to have abandoned this attempt in favor of a more symbolic approach.

The nature and causes of this transformation, which largely took place during late antiquity, have been a subject of scholarly debate for centuries.[3] Giorgio Vasari attributed it to a decline in artistic skills and standards, which had in turn been revived by his contemporaries in the Italian Renaissance. Although this point of view has been occasionally revived, most notably by Bernard Berenson,[4] modern scholars tend to take a more positive view of the Byzantine aesthetic. Alois Riegl and Josef Strzygowski, writing in the early 20th century, were above all responsible for the revaluation of late antique art.[5] Riegl saw it as a natural development of pre-existing tendencies in Roman art, whereas Strzygowski viewed it as a product of “oriental” influences. Notable recent contributions to the debate include those of Ernst Kitzinger,[6] who traced a “dialectic” between “abstract" and "Hellenistic” tendencies in late antiquity, and John Onians,[7] who saw an “increase in visual response” in late antiquity, through which a viewer “could look at something which was in twentieth-century terms purely abstract and find it representational.”

In any case, the debate is purely modern: it is clear that most Byzantine viewers did not consider their art to be abstract or unnaturalistic. As Cyril Mango has observed, “our own appreciation of Byzantine art stems largely from the fact that this art is not naturalistic; yet the Byzantines themselves, judging by their extant statements, regarded it as being highly naturalistic and as being directly in the tradition of Phidias, Apelles, and Zeuxis.”[8]


The most famous of the surviving Byzantine mosaics of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople - the image of Christ Pantocrator on the walls of the upper southern gallery. Christ is flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. The mosaics were made in the 12th century.

The subject matter of monumental Byzantine art was primarily religious and imperial: the two themes are often combined, as in the portraits of later Byzantine emperors that decorated the interior of the sixth-century church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. These preoccupations are partly a result of the pious and autocratic nature of Byzantine society, and partly a result of its economic structure: the wealth of the empire was concentrated in the hands of the church and the imperial office, which therefore had the greatest opportunity to undertake monumental artistic commissions.

Religious art was not, however, limited to the monumental decoration of church interiors. One of the most important genres of Byzantine art was the icon, an image of Christ, the Virgin, or a saint, used as an object of veneration in Orthodox churches and private homes alike. Icons were more religious than aesthetic in nature: especially after the end of iconoclasm, they were understood to manifest the unique “presence” of the figure depicted by means of a “likeness” to that figure maintained through carefully maintained canons of representation.[9]

The illumination of manuscripts was another major genre of Byzantine art. The most commonly illustrated texts were religious, both scripture itself (particularly the Psalms) and devotional or theological texts (such as the Ladder of Divine Ascent of John Climacus or the homilies of Gregory of Nazianzus). Secular texts were also illuminated: important examples include the Alexander Romance and the history of John Skylitzes.


Mosaic of Justinian and Retinue at Apse Entry, San Vitale, Ravenna, c. 546 CE

Early Byzantine art

Two events were of fundamental importance to the development of a unique, Byzantine art. First, the Edict of Milan, issued by the emperors Constantine I and Licinius in 313, allowed for public Christian worship, and led to the development of a monumental, Christian art. Second, the dedication of Constantinople in 330 created a great new artistic centre for the eastern half of the Empire, and a specifically Christian one. Other artistic traditions flourished in rival cities such as Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, but it was not until all of these cities had fallen - the first two to the Arabs and Rome to the Goths - that Constantinople established its supremacy.

Constantine devoted great effort to the decoration of Constantinople, adorning its public spaces with ancient statuary,[10] and building a forum dominated by a porphyry column that carried a statue of himself.[11] Major Constantinopolitan churches built under Constantine and his son, Constantius II, included the original foundations of Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Apostles.[12]

The next major building campaign in Constantinople was sponsored by Theodosius I. The most important surviving monument of this period is the obelisk and base erected by Theodosius in the Hippodrome.[13] The earliest surviving church in Constantinople is the Basilica of St. John at the Stoudios Monastery, built in the fifth century.[14]

Due to subsequent rebuilding and destruction, relatively few Constantinopolitan monuments of this early period survive. However, the development of monumental early Byzantine art can still be traced through surviving structures in other cities. For example, important early churches are found in Rome (including Santa Sabina and Santa Maria Maggiore),[15] and in Thessaloniki (the Rotunda and the Acheiropoietos Basilica).[16]

A number of important illuminated manuscripts, both sacred and secular, survive from this early period. Classical authors, including Virgil (represented by the Vergilius Vaticanus[17] and the Vergilius Romanus[18]) and Homer (represented by the Ambrosian Iliad), were illustrated with narrative paintings. Illuminated biblical manuscripts of this period survive only in fragments: for example, the Quedlinburg Itala fragment is a small portion of what must have been a lavishly illustrated copy of 1 Kings.[19]

Early Byzantine art was also marked by the cultivation of ivory carving.[20] Ivory diptychs, often elaborately decorated, were issued as gifts by newly appointed consuls.[21] Silver plates were another important form of luxury art:[22] among the most lavish from this period is the Missorium of Theodosius I.[23] Sarcophagi continued to be produced in great numbers.

The Age of Justinian


Significant changes in Byzantine art coincided with the reign of Justinian I (527-565). Justinian devoted much of his reign to reconquering Italy, North Africa and Spain. He also laid the foundations of the imperial absolutism of the Byzantine state, codifying its laws and imposing his religious views on all his subjects by law.[24]

A significant component of Justinian's project of imperial renovation was a massive building program, which was described in a book, the Buildings, written by Justinian's court historian, Procopius.[25] Justinian renovated, rebuilt, or founded anew countless churches within Constantinople, including Hagia Sophia,[26] which had been destroyed during the Nika riots, the Church of the Holy Apostles,[27] and the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus.[28] Justinian also built a number of churches and fortifications outside of the imperial capital, including the Monastery of St. Catherine on the Sinai Peninsula,[29] and the Basilica of St. John in Ephesus.[30]

Several major churches of this period were built in the provinces by local bishops in imitation of the new Constantinopolitan foundations. The Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, was built by Bishop Maximianus. The decoration of San Vitale includes important mosaics of Justinian and his empress, Theodora, although neither ever visited the church.[31] Also of note is the Euphrasian Basilica in Pore?.[32]

19-20th century archeological discoveries unearthed a large group of Early Byzantine mosaics in the Middle East. The eastern provinces of the Eastern Roman and later the Byzantine Empires inherited a strong artistic tradition from the Late Antiquity. Christian mosaic art flourished in this area from the 4th century onwards. The tradition of making mosaics was carried on in the Umayyad era until the end of the 8th century. The most important surviving examples are the Madaba Map, the mosaics of Mount Nebo, Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai and the Church of St Stephen in ancient Kastron Mefaa (now Umm ar-Rasas).

The first fully-preserved illuminated biblical manuscripts date to the first half of the sixth century, most notably the Vienna Genesis,[33] the Rossano Gospels,[34] and the Sinope Gospels.[35] The Vienna Dioscurides is a lavishly illustrated botanical treatise, presented as a gift to the Byzantine aristocrat Julia Anicia.[36]

Important ivory sculptures of this period include the Barberini ivory, which probably depicts Justinian himself, [37] and the Archangel ivory in the British Museum.[38] Silver plate continued to be decorated with scenes drawn from classical mythology; for example, a plate preserved in the Cabinet des Médailles, Paris, depicts Hercules wrestling the Nemean lion.

The seventh-century crisis

7th-century mosaic from Hagios Demetrios (detail), Thessaloniki

The Age of Justinian was followed by a political decline, since most of Justinian's conquests were lost and the Empire faced acute crisis with the invasions of the Avars, Slavs, Persians and Arabs in the 7th century. Constantinople was also wracked by religious and political conflict.[39]

The most significant surviving monumental projects of this period were undertaken outside of the imperial capital. The church of Hagios Demetrios in Thessaloniki was rebuilt after a fire in the mid-seventh century. The new sections include mosaics executed in a remarkably abstract style.[40] The church of the Koimesis in Nicaea (present-day Iznik), destroyed in the early 20th century but documented through photographs, demonstrates the simultaneous survival of a more classical style of church decoration.[41] The churches of Rome, still a Byzantine territory in this period, also include important surviving decorative programs, especially Santa Maria Antiqua, Sant'Agnese fuori le mura, and the Chapel of San Venanzio in San Giovanni in Laterano.[42] Byzantine mosaicists probably also contributed to the decoration of the early Umayyad monuments, including the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and the Great Mosque of Damascus.[43]

Important works of luxury art from this period include the silver David Plates, produced during the reign of Heraclius, and depicting scenes from the life of the Hebrew king David.[44] The most notable surviving manuscripts are Syriac gospel books, such as the so-called Syriac Bible of Paris.[45] However, the London Canon Tables bear witness to the continuing production of lavish gospel books in Greek.[46]

The period between Justinian and iconoclasm saw major changes in the social and religious roles of images within Byzantium. The veneration of acheiropoieta, or holy images "not made by human hands," became a significant phenomenon, and in some instances these images were credited with saving cities from military assault. By the end of the seventh century, certain images of saints had come to be viewed as "windows" through which one could communicate with the figure depicted. Proskynesis before images is also attested in texts from the late seventh century. These developments mark the beginnings of a theology of icons.[47]

At the same time, the debate over the proper role of art in the decoration of churches intensified. Three canons of the Quinisext Council of 692 addressed controversies in this area: prohibition of the representation of the cross on church pavements (Canon 73), prohibition of the representation of Christ as a lamb (Canon 82), and a general injunction against "pictures, whether they are in paintings or in what way so ever, which attract the eye and corrupt the mind, and incite it to the enkindling of base pleasures" (Canon 100).


Mosaic from the church of Hagios Demetrios in Thessaloniki, late 7th or early 8th century, showing St. Demetrios with donors.

Byzantium under the Isaurians

The East Roman or Byzantine Empire was ruled by the Isaurian or Syrian dynasty from 711 to 802. The Isaurian emperors were successful in defending and consolidating the Empire against the Caliphate after the onslaught of the early Muslim conquests, but were less successful in Europe, where they suffered setbacks against the Bulgars, had to give up the Exarchate of Ravenna and lose influence over Italy and the Papacy to the growing power of the Franks. The dynasty however is chiefly associated with Byzantine Iconoclasm, an attempt to restore divine favour by purifying the Christian faith from excessive adoration of icons, which resulted in considerable internal turmoil.

At the end of the Isaurian dynasty in 802, the Byzantine Empire continued to fight the Arabs and the Bulgars for their very existence with matters made more complicated with the resurrection a Western Empire under Charlemagne.


Intense debate over the role of art in worship led eventually to the period of "Byzantine iconoclasm."[48] Sporadic outbreaks of iconoclasm on the part of local bishops are attested in Asia Minor during the 720s. In 726, an underwater earthquake between the islands of Thera and Therasia was interpreted by Emperor Leo III as a sign of God's anger, and may have led Leo to remove a famous icon of Christ from the Chalke Gate outside the imperial palace.[49] However, iconoclasm probably did not become imperial policy until the reign of Leo's son, Constantine V. The Council of Hieria, convened under Constantine in 754, proscribed the manufacture of icons of Christ. This inaugurated the Iconoclastic period, which lasted, with interruptions, until 843.

While iconoclasm severely restricted the role of religious art, and led to the removal of some earlier apse mosaics and (possibly) the sporadic destruction of portable icons, it never constituted a total ban on the production of figural art. Ample literary sources indicate that secular art (i.e. hunting scenes and depictions of the games in the hippodrome) continued to be produced,[50] and the few monuments that can be securely dated to the period (most notably the manuscript of Ptolemy's "Handy Tables" today held by the Vatican[51]) demonstrate that metropolitan artists maintained a high quality of production.[52]

Major churches dating to this period include Hagia Eirene in Constantinople, which was rebuilt in the 760s following its destruction by an earthquake in 740. The interior of Hagia Eirene, which is dominated by a large mosaic cross in the apse, is one of the best-preserved examples of iconoclastic church decoration.[53] The church of Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki was also rebuilt in the late 8th century.[54]

Certain churches built outside of the empire during this period, but decorated in a figural, "Byzantine," style, may also bear witness to the continuing activities of Byzantine artists. Particularly important in this regard are the original mosaics of the Palatine Chapel in Aachen (since either destroyed or heavily restored) and the frescoes in the Church of Maria foris portas in Castelseprio.

Map Byzantine Empire 1025

Macedonian art



Macedonian art (sometimes called the Macedonian Renaissance) was a period in Byzantine art which began with the reign of the Emperor Basil I of the Macedonian dynasty in 867. The period followed the lifting of the ban on icons (iconoclasm) and lasted until the fall of the dynasty in the mid-eleventh century. It coincided with the Ottonian Renaissance in Western Europe. In the ninth and tenth centuries, the Empire's military situation improved, and art and architecture revived. New churches were again commissioned, and the Byzantine church mosaic style became standardised. The best preserved examples are at the Hosios Lukas Monastery in mainland Greece and the Nea Moni Katholikon in the island of Chios. The very free frescoes at Castelseprio in Italy are linked by many art historians to the art of Constantinople of the period also. There was a revival of interest in classical themes (of which the Paris Psalter is an important testimony) and more sophisticated techniques were used to depict human figures.

Although monumental sculpture extremely rare in Byzantine art, the Macedonian period saw the unprecedented flourishing of the art of ivory sculpture. Many ornate ivory triptychs and diptychs survive, with the central panel often representing either deesis (as in the Harbaville Triptych pictured at right) or the Theotokos (as in a triptych at Luton Hoo, dating from the reign of Nicephorus Phocas). On the other hand, ivory caskets (notably the Veroli Casket from Victoria and Albert Museum) often feature secular motifs true to the Hellenistic tradition, thus testifying to an undercurrent of classical taste in Byzantine art.

There are few important surviving buildings from the period. It is presumed that Basil I's votive church of the Theotokos of Phoros (no longer extant) served as a model for most cross-in-square sanctuaries of the period, including the monastery church of Hosios Lukas in Greece (ca. 1000), the Nea Moni of Chios (a pet project of Constantine IX), and the Daphni Monastery near Athens (ca. 1050).

Comnenian Age

The Macedonian emperors were followed by the Komnenian dynasty, beginning with the reign of Alexios I Komnenos in 1081.[2] Byzantium had recently suffered a period of severe dislocation following the battle of Manzikert in 1071 and the subsequent loss of Asia Minor to the Turks. However, the Komnenoi brought stability to the empire, (1081-1185), and during the course of the twelfth century their energetic campaigning did much to restore the fortunes of the empire. The Komnenoi were great patrons of the arts, and with their support Byzantine artists continued to move in the direction of greater humanism and emotion, of which the Theotokos of Vladimir, the cycle of mosaics at Daphni, and the murals at Nerezi yield important examples. Ivory sculpture and other expensive mediums of art gradually gave way to frescoes and icons, which for the first time gained widespread popularity across the Empire. Apart from painted icons, there were other varieties - notably the mosaic and ceramic ones.
Nerezi frescoes are probably the best example of the Comnenian Age, and the big brake through of the Renaissance that developed within the Byzantine ...

Some of the finest Byzantine work of this period may be found outside the Empire: in the mosaics of Gelati, Kiev, Torcello, Venice, Monreale, Cefalù and Palermo. For instance, Venice's Basilica of St Mark, begun in 1063, was based on the great Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, now destroyed, and is thus an echo of the age of Justinian.

Detail of Lamentation, 1164. Fresco from S. Panteleimon, Nerezi

Master of Nerezi, 1164
Palaeologan Age

Eight hundred years of continuous Byzantine culture were brought to an abrupt end in 1204 with the sacking of Constantinople by the knights of the Fourth Crusade, a disaster from which the Empire never recovered. Although the Byzantines regained the city in 1261, the Empire was thereafter a small and weak state confined to the Greek peninsula and the islands of the Aegean.

Nevertheless the Palaeologan Dynasty, beginning with Michael VIII Palaeologus in 1259, was a last golden age of Byzantine art, partly because of the increasing cultural exchange between Byzantine and Italian artists. Byzantine artists developed a new interest in landscapes and pastoral scenes, and the traditional mosaic-work (of which the Chora Church in Constantinople is the finest extant example) gradually gave way to detailed cycles of narrative frescoes (as evidenced in a large group of Mystras churches). The icons, which became a favoured medium for artistic expression, were characterized by a less austere attitude, new appreciation for purely decorative qualities of painting and meticulous attention to details, earning the popular name of the Paleologan Mannerism for the period in general.

Crete had been ruled by the Venetians since 1211, and the Cretan school of icon-painting gradually introduced Western elements into its style, and exported large numbers of icons to the West. After the fall of the Empire, Crete became the centre of Greek art, until it too fell to the Turks in 1669.

In the field of manuscript production, the Palaiologan age was a time of intense scholastic activity in Byzantium, with many seeking to rediscover long-ignored ancient texts. Scholars searched for classical writings and then copied and annotated them. Maximos Planudes (c. 1255–1305), for example, edited Plutarch, rewrote the Greek Anthology of epigrams, and rediscovered Ptolemy’s Geography. A remarkable early fifteenth-century edition of Ptolemy’s Geography survives today; the text was preserved, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, in the collection of the Ottoman sultan, Mehmet the Conqueror, who was an avid collector of Byzantine manuscripts. Contact with the West introduced a range of Latin texts that Greek scholars translated into Greek—from Ovid and Cicero to Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.


The Annunciation from Ohrid, one of the most admired icons of the Paleologan Mannerism, bears comparison with the finest contemporary works by Italian artists.
The Byzantine era properly defined came to an end with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, but by this time the Byzantine cultural heritage had been widely diffused, carried by the spread of Orthodox Christianity, to Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and, most importantly, to Russia, which became the centre of the Orthodox world following the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. Even under Ottoman rule, Byzantine traditions in icon-painting and other small-scale arts survived, especially in the Venetian-ruled Crete and Rhodes, where a "post-Byzantine" style under increasing Western influence survived for a further two centuries, producing El Greco and other significant artists.
The influence of Byzantine art in western Europe, particularly Italy was seen in ecclesiastical architecture, through the development of the Romanesque style in the 10th century and 11th centuries. This influence was transmitted through the Frankish and Salic emperors, primarily Charlemagne, who had close relations with Byzantium. The contribution of the migrated Byzantine scholars in Renaissance is also very important.

Berlinghiero Berlinghieri and his sons Bonaventura Berlinghieri (active 1228 – 74 ), Barone (active 1228 – 82 ), and Marco (active 1232 – 59 ). A family of Lucchese painters whose vigorously linear Romanesque idiom is often erroneously described as a Byzantine manner, reflecting its debt to Byzantine conventions. The static figures, devoid of contrapposto and with out-of-scale heads, on the Crucifix signed by Berlinghiero (Lucca, Mus. Nazionale di Villa Guinigi) would have been quite unacceptable to Byzantine patrons, but its imposing drawing undoubtedly influenced later pictorial technique in Tuscany. His son Bonaventura signed the most important early panel of S. Francis and his Life ( 1235 ; Pescia, S. Francesco), whose two-dimensional settings caricature Byzantine pictorial space, but with a vigorous chiaroscuro. Marco illuminated a Lucchese Bible in 1150 (probably Lucca, Bib. Capit., cod. 1) and was in Bologna, 1253 – 9 , where the mural of the Massacre of the Innocents in S. Stefano shows a related Italo-Byzantine idiom. The family workshop is also credited with an important mosaic of Christ and the Apostles on the façade of S. Frediano, Lucca, epitomizing their influence on painting in Tuscany between 1225 and 1275 .
Berlinghiero Berlinghieri was the outstanding painter of thirteenth-century Lucca. The Madonna and Child — of exceptional beauty and importance — is one of only two that can be confidently assigned to him on the basis of comparison with a signed crucifix. Berlinghiero was always open to Byzantine influence, and this Madonna is of the Byzantine type known as the Hodegetria, in which the Madonna points to the Child as the way to salvation.

Art in Tuscany | Bonaventura Berlinghieri

John VIII Palaeologus was a Byzantine emperor (1421 – 48). When he acceded, the Byzantine Empire had been reduced by the Turks to the city of Constantinople. John sought in vain to secure Western aid by agreeing at the Council of Florence (1439) to the union of the Eastern and Western churches. His brother, Constantine XI, succeeded him in 1449 and was the last Byzantine emperor.
The son of Manuel II Palaeologus, he was crowned coemperor with his father in 1408 and took effective control of the empire in 1421. He became sole emperor after his father's death in 1425. Of the diminished and fragmented empire, he ruled only Constantinople and the surrounding area. The city was besieged by the Ottoman Turks (1422), and, when Thessaloníki fell to Turkish forces (1430), John appealed to the West for help. He united the Byzantine and Latin churches (1439), but joint efforts against the Turks failed, and the Byzantines refused to submit to the pope. John died amid intrigues over succession.

In 1439 the painter Benozzo Gozzoli was 19 when he watched the arrival in Florence of John VIII Palaeologus and his dignitaries to attend the Council of Florence. At this council terms were agreed for the reunion of the Catholic and Orthodox churches. It was a desperate attempt by the Byzantine Emperor to gain western support to counter-balance the Turkish threat. Gozzoli and all the Florentines were highly impressed by the rich costumes of the emperor and his followers and a few years later Gozzoli painted in Palazzo Medici a Magi's Procession which is actually the procession of John VIII Palaeologus, of the Patriarch of Constantinople and of another Byzantine prince at the Council of Florence (image in the background of this page). The silk dress of the emperor was most likely designed and manufactured in Mistrà, at the time a very flourishing town in Laconia, the region of southern Peloponnese which once was ruled by the Spartans. Portrait of of John VII Palaeologus as one of the Three Wise Men, by Benozzo Gozzoli. the bearded character on a white horse is the Byzantine emperor John VIII Palaiologos. The three girls next to him have been identified as the three daughters of Piero de' Medici, Nannina, Bianca and Maria.

The middle king, accompanied by his pages and squires, is gazing upwards while riding through a hilly Tuscan landscape. He may be gazing at the Star of Bethlehem, which was possibly located in the left part of the destroyed entrance wall. The king is considered to be a portrait of Emperor John VII Paleologus. The identification is based on the assumption that the depictions reflect contemporary events. In this case it is thought to be a reference to the Council of Ferrara-Florence, in which the Emperor took part in 1439.

The middle king is represented with the features of Emperor John VII Paleologus. For this representation Benozzo Gozzoli based his work on a medallion designed by Pisanello in 1438. However, he made the face younger and replace the traditional and unwieldy Byzantine tiara with a crown resting on a peacock-plumed velvet cap.[2]

Art in Tuscany | Benozzo Gozzoli, Procession of the Magi in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence

Benozzo Gozzoli, Procession of the Middle King, 1459-60, fresco (south wall), Chapel, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi, Florence.

The bearded character on a white horse is the Byzantine emperor John VIII Palaiologos. The three girls next to him have been identified as the three daughters of Piero de' Medici, Nannina, Bianca and Maria.

Portrait of of John VII Palaeologus as one of the Three Wise Men, by Benozzo Gozzoli.



Byzantium, Faith and Power, 1261-1453. Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2004) | The Metropolitan Museum of Art |
The third exhibition in a chronological series devoted to the art and influence of Byzantine civilization, demonstrates the artistic and cultural significance of the last centuries of the state that called itself “the Empire of the Romans.” The exhibition begins in 1261, when the capital Constantinople was restored to imperial rule, and concludes in 1557, when the empire that had fallen to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 was renamed Byzantium—the name by which it is still known today. The importance of the era is primarily demonstrated through the arts created for the Orthodox church and for the churches of other East Christian states that aspired to be the heirs to the empire’s power. The impact of its culture on the Islamic world and the Latin-speaking West is also explored—especially the influence of the Christian East on the development of the Renaissance.

Themes in Late Byzantine Art | The Metropolitan Museum of Art |

The Glory of Byzantium | Publications for Educators | Explore & Learn | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's on-line exploration of Byzantium was created in conjunction with the international loan exhibition The Glory of Byzantium (March 11 - July 6, 1997), which celebrated the art of the second golden age of Byzantine art. The on-line exploration moves beyond the time frame of the exhibition and includes examples of art from the first golden age of Byzantine art (324­730) and the late period, which ended with the Turkish conquest in 1453.

Labatt, Annie. "Frescoes and Wall Painting in Late Byzantine Art. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000 (October 2004). Fresco painting from the later Byzantine period reveals much about the mobility of artistic techniques and styles. The restoration and decoration of the Chora Monastery in Constantinople (1316–21), funded by the scholar Theodore Metochites, conveys the great skill and versatility of Byzantine artists. The church originally contained an extensive cycle of the Life of the Virgin and the Infancy and Ministry of Christ. An interesting feature of these designs, a resplendent mixture of mosaic and painting, is the use of perspective in the treatment of space, one reason that certain scholars call this period the "Westernization" of Byzantium. It is possible that the presence of Westerners during the Latin occupation had much to do with these new forms of painting. This spread of Western styles affected many areas within the Byzantine sphere. The fresco decorations of the Peribleptos Monastery (1350–75) in Mistra reveal an interest in the treatment of space and movement comparable to work by Western artists. This church possesses many relics, including those of Saint John the Baptist, who is depicted in the fresco showing the Baptism of Christ. Another relic at this church is the head of Saint Gregory of Nazianzos, which was popular with Western pilgrims.
From the early thirteenth century to the invasion by the Ottoman Turks, Serbia was extremely powerful, controlling most of the Balkans. Serbian prowess is evident in the frescoes that decorate the walls of the King’s Church at Studenica Monastery. This independent chapel was built in 1313—14 and dedicated by King Stefan Uros II Milutin. Portraits of the king and his wife Simonis are depicted on the south wall, while Saint Stefan Nemanja, Saint Sava of Serbia, and the Virgin and Child appear on the opposite wall. The placement of these saints across from the king and his wife suggests a parallel between Milutin’s ancestors and those of Christ. Christ appears as the Pantokrator in the dome surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists. The life of the Virgin Mary appears in the lower zone of the walls, while the upper zone shows the ten Great Feasts, an example of which is the Baptism.

[1] The term can also be used for the art of Eastern Orthodox states which were contemporary with the Byzantine Empire and were culturally influenced by it, without actually being part of it (the "Byzantine commonwealth"), such as Bulgaria, Serbia, or Rus and also for the art of the Republic of Venice and Kingdom of Sicily, which had close ties to the Byzantine Empire despite being in other respects part of western European culture. Certain artistic traditions that originated in the Byzantine Empire, particularly in regard to icon painting and church architecture, are maintained in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia and other Eastern Orthodox countries to the present day.
[2] Meagher, Jennifer. "Italian Painting of the Later Middle Ages". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000
[3] The Angelos family was a noble Byzantine lineage which gave rise to three Byzantine emperors from 1185 to 1204. From the 13th to the 15th century, a branch of the family ruled Epiros, Thessaly and Thessaloniki under the name of Angelos Komnenos Doukas.
The family name Angelos is derived either from angel (messenger) or from the toponym Angel (Agel), a district near Amida.
The lineage was founded by Constantine Angelos from Philadelphia (Asia Minor), who married Theodora Komnene (born 1096), a daughter of emperor Alexios I Komnenos. According to a 12th-century historian, Constantine was handsome but of lowly origin. Constantine and Theodora had three sons: the sebastokrator John Angelos, Andronikos Angelos and Alexios "Komnenos" Angelos, who erected a church in Nerezi in 1164, famed for its frescoes. During the reign of Manuel I Komnenos, several Angeloi attained rank as military commanders and officials of the Byzantine empire.
In 1185, Andronikos Angelos' son Isaac II Angelos deposed Andronikos I Komnenos and was proclaimed Byzantine Emperor. He was succeeded by his brother Alexios III Angelos and his son Alexios IV Angelos. Under the weak reign of the Angelos dynasty, the Byzantine empire deteriorated and soon fell prey to Latin crusaders and Venetians in the Fourth Crusade.

[3] The influence of Byzantine art in western Europe, particularly Italy was seen in ecclesiastical architecture, through the development of the Romanesque style in the 10th century and 11th centuries. This influence was transmitted through the Frankish and Salic emperors, primarily Charlemagne, who had close relations with Byzantium. The contribution of the migrated Byzantine scholars in Renaissance is also very important.
' A comparison between two paintings of the same subject may clarify the novelty represented by the paintings of Giotto and justify the importance of his contribution to the Early Renaissance. The first painting is by an anonymous Byzantine artist, referred to as the Master of Nerezi: a fresco on the Lamentation over the Dead Christ in the Church of St. Pantaleimon, created in 1164 (Middle Byzantine period) located in Nerezi, Macedonia. The other represents the same subject as depicted by Giotto in 1304-1306, in the Capella degli Scrovegni, in Padua, Italy.
The Master of Nerezi is undeniably able to transmit something of the pathos, the emotional dimension, of his subject, within the constraints of the Byzantine formal rules. In comparison to the early, strictly hieratic and solemn expression of the royal or Imperial-Christian art of Byzantium, there is here a more dynamic visual concept and action indeed: The Virgin Mary embracing the deposed Christ, the curved body of the disciple holding the hand of Christ, within a very briefly indicated location and schematic spatial setting.
As Gombrich (The Story of Art) observed about the Byzantine style, within this basically two-dimensional formal concept in painting, we distinguish also the heritage of Greek and Hellenistic art, largely transformed but still recognizable. For example: skiagraphia, or “shadow painting”, was a system of tonal and color modulation employing mainly, according to some specialists, graphic elements such as cross-hatching. Its initial development was attributed to the Athenian painter Apollodorus (430-400 BCE). Skiagraphia aimed at optical effects, the creation the impression of solid and round bodies in space taking into account a subjective point of view. It survives in Byzantine painting as a conventionalized linear system of “patterned” anatomical representation.
In contrast to the Pieta by the Master of Nerezi, Giotto’s figures are solidly articulated in themselves and among each other within a unified and coherent spatial setting. They not simply rest as patterns upon a surface, but occupy their own space and interact within the virtual space of the painted setting: the pictorially constructed box or stage. Two are the main sources, according to Gombrich, of Giotto’s accomplishment: classic (Roman) sculpture and the Christian plays publicly staged on different occasions in front of the churches, the theater as a traditional instrument of mass education and indoctrination in the Christian Church. In Giotto's Lamentation we recognize a tableau vivant or "staged picture" of representations of sacred narratives'. [Marcelo G. Lima]

Lamentation (Pieta) by the Master of Nerezi, 1164

Lamentation by Giotto, 1304-06
This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Byzantine Art and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The location of Podere Santa Pia is unique and the landscape a once-in-a-life sight.
.Although this is off the beaten track it is the ideal choice for those seeking a peaceful, uncontaminated environment.


Holiday accomodation in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia | Artist and writer's residency


Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, garden view, December
View from terrace with a stunning view over the Maremma and Montecristo

Crete Senesi, surroundings
of Podere Santa Pia

Florence, Duomo
Abbazia di Sant' Antimo

The abbey of Sant'Antimo
Spoleto, Duomo
Abbazia di Sant' Antimo
Crete Senesi, surroundings of Podere Santa Pia

Podere Santa Pia is situated in the unspoiled valley of the Ombrone River, only 21 kilometres from Montalcino. This valley is famous locally as being of great natural beauty and still very undeveloped. Located between the Crete Senesi area and the Maremma, the Val d'Ombrone is synonymous with medieval villages, country walks and mountain bikes as well as being famous its wild mushrooms and its red wine. It is an ideal starting point to discover Tuscany. The guesthouse is located in Castiglioncello Bandini, a charming medieval village situated on a hill, which offers a spectacular view on the Alta Valle dell’Ombrone and the Maremma. Montalcino, the abbey of Sant'Antimo and Pienza are within easy reach.
With its gothic influences, Siena is often called the most beautiful city of Tuscany. This medieval city amidst the olive yards and the Chianti, consists of narrow streets and small squares. The city contains Toscana’s most photographed place, the “Piazza del Campo”. Twice a year, this square is the venue for the colourful “Palio”, a horserace wherein each ‘fantino’ (participant) competes for the honour of its ‘contrada’ (quarter).