Friday, April 7, 2017

Byzantine painting

Byzantine artists loved to depict huge compositions whose details were all distinct; they avoided subjects that involved a large number of figures mingled with one another; they gave preference to those with almost no action, the posture calm and regular, in which the characters could be arranged without at all disturbing the uniformed arrangement of the ensemble.

Byzantine painting is two dimensional, formalized and symbolic (rather than realistic). Interestingly enough, although this painting was influential in the development of art in the Italian Renaissance, it was afterwards disdained as ‘religious’ and ‘unrealistic’.

It is generally assumed that a considerable number of Byzantine images must have been available to Italian painters as loot of the Fourth Crusade, brought back after the pillaging of Constantinople in 1204.

Italian artist could also have been familiar with developments in the east through model books or collections of drawing. This would explain the strong similarities between certain Italian worlds and Byzantine wall painting from the period.

Byzantine painting, like literature, tended to be somewhat formulaic and to focus on similar Biblical stories, making use of techniques and means of depiction inherited from the ancient world.
Byzantine painting
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