Byzantine Art Fact Sheet

Students review facts about Byzantine Art to prepare for assessment.

1. Definition: Byzantine art refers to the body of Christian Greek artistic products of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, as well as the nations and states that inherited culturally from the empire. It flourished between the 4th century to the mid-15th century AD.

2. Influences: Byzantine art is characterized by a fusion of Roman, Hellenistic, and Middle Eastern artistic traditions.

3. Characteristics: Byzantine art is known for its abstract, symbolic nature, extensive use of gold and rich colors, detailed mosaic works, and a focus on religious themes. Figures in Byzantine artworks often have a flat, two-dimensional appearance.

4. Iconoclasm: The period from 726 to 843 is known as the Iconoclastic Controversy, where religious images were banned and destroyed. After the prohibition ended, there was a significant revival of icon painting and mosaics.

5. Iconography: Byzantine art introduced many of the conventions of Christian iconography, such as halos and specific color associations for significant figures.

6. Mosaics and Frescoes: Mosaics and frescoes are significant forms of Byzantine art, often decorating the interiors of domed churches. These artworks featured biblical scenes and figures.

7. Architecture: Byzantine architecture is known for its central-plan buildings (structures symmetrically arranged around a central point), often in a cross-in-square plan. The most famous architectural feat is the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

8. Famous Works:

  • The Hagia Sophia: Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum, the Hagia Sophia is known for its massive dome and luxurious interior decorations.
  • The Pammakaristos Mosaics: These mosaics are an exquisite example of late Byzantine artistry, with detailed depictions of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and various saints.
  • The Chora Church Mosaics and Frescoes: These intricate works depict scenes from the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

9. Manuscripts: Illuminated manuscripts, where text is supplemented by the use of decoration or illustration, were a significant form of artistic expression in the Byzantine Empire, most notably the Gospel books.

10. Legacy: Byzantine art has had a profound influence on the Orthodox Christian world and continues to inspire modern architecture, icon painting, and mosaics.

Processing ... Please wait