Participants & Abstracts


"Post-Byzantine" Art: Orthodox Christian Art in a "Non-Byzantine" World?

May 15-16, 2013 at Central European University in Budapest



Anna Christidou (Central European University) 

She is Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the CEU/CEMS. She graduated from the University of Athens (BA in History, Archaeology and Art History) and received her MA (2006) and PhD (2011) in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. She is currently working on her manuscript on Art Production and Patronage, Power and Society in Late Byzantine Albania (PhD thesis) while also delivering classes on Late Byzantine Art at the CEU. She has held scholarships from the Greek State Scholarship Foundation (IKY) and the A.G. Leventis Foundation. She has lived and worked in Albania for several years where she cooperated with the Museum of Berat and the National Institute of Monuments. She has worked in excavations in Greece, France and Cyprus. She has written articles and delivered papers on Medieval Albania in various conferences. She participates in the CEU/CEMS project ‘The Southern Caucasus and Its Neighbours, c.300–1600’ and was recently awarded a Dumbarton Oaks Grant for her project titled: ‘Recording material culture at the Shen Meri church, Labovo: an unexplored religious centre of Byzantine Albania’

TITLE: Reflections on a ‘Post-Byzantine’ microcosm: Orthodox communities and socio-cultural behaviours in Ottoman Albania

ABSTRACT: This paper raises awareness of the rich material evidence from south Albania attesting to the enduring artistic activity that was generated within the local Orthodox Christian communities during the period of Ottoman rule. While offering a glimpse of selected wall paintings and icons produced in the cities of Berat, Korcë, Gjirokaster Moschopolis (modern Voskopojë) and their peripheries, from the sixteenth through to the eighteenth century, this paper gives a first insight into the attested artistic attributes, standards and tastes, the personality and versatility of the painters, the social attitudes and expectations accommodated through art. It also suggests ways in which this information can help reconstruct the social, cultural and spiritual context of these communities. While remaining loyal to the fundamental principles of the Byzantine pictorial tradition, these works of art reveal a capacity by their artists, patrons and milieus to acknowledge and respond to the varied stimuli to which they were exposed in the given historical realities. In this light, they are to be viewed as valuable material tokens of a ‘Post-Byzantine’ microcosm that still remains underexplored but can shed further light on the ways in which we understand the very period in which this emerged.


Slobodan Ćurčić (Princeton University)

Professor Emeritus of the Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, U.S.A. Leading expert in the fields of Late and Antique and Byzantine Art and Architecture. He is an author and editor of multiple books and over one hundred articles in the mentioned fields. His latest books are the comprehensive Architecture in the Balkans from Diocletian to Süleyman the Magnificent (2010) as well as Architecture as Icon, ed. with E. Hadjitryphonos (2010). His focused subjects of study involve multiple works on art ad architecture of Norman Sicily, of Cyprus, Hilandar Monastery on Mount Athos, architecture and art of medieval Serbia, and of ‘Post Byzantine’ art and architecture. Ćurčić was also involved in archeological excavations at Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica), Serbia, at Morgantina, Sicily, Nemea, Greece, and at Polis tis Chrysochou, Cyprus.

TITLE: ‘Post-Byzantine’ Art. What is it? Whose is it?

ABSTRACT: The after-life of Byzantine art, after the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and its political takeover by the Ottomans, was never clearly defined and became a subject substantially ignored by the pioneers of Byzantine art-historical studies. Ultimately, its emergence took place as a result of active work of two generations of scholarsfollowing the end of World War II. Appropriating the name “Post-Byzantine” from the book Byzance après Byzance, published in 1935 by the Romanian scholar Nicolae Iorga, the study of Byzantine art after 1453 has mushroomed within the last six decades into a field in its own right. Reliant on modern chronological divisions employed in western scholarship, the date of the fall of the Byzantine Empire was perceived as a convenient dividing line between Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art-historical scholarly traditions. Western academia and museology readily embraced 1453 as a firm date separating “Byzantine” from “Post-Byzantine art”. The two, artificially created art historical entities, were ideologically driven by the Western European organizational system of ‘period styles’. Accordingly, Byzantine art was perceived as the South Eastern European counterpart of Western Medieval Art. Post-Byzantine art, on the other hand, was viewed as a chronological pendant of the Renaissance and its following in the West. The artificial ‘symmetry’ thus created in the greater ‘construction’ of art history as a discipline, has yielded numerous unresolved problems, whose tendency has been to multiply without prospects of meaningful resolutions. The rapidly grown field of “Post Byzantine art”, has grown along with an exponential accumulation of unresolved questions. These, have generally never been adequately addressed, and require fresh scrutiny, as the field itself stands at the threshold of its maturity. Scholars dealing with the artistic tradition after the political end of the Byzantine Empire must reach a clearer consensus regarding the implications posed by its chronological and geographic frameworks, as well by the meaning of the very term “Post-Byzantine art”. Ultimately, the meaning and the spread of this art in relationship to its millennium-old predecessor –“Byzantine art”– will hopefully shed new light on the meaning and the significance of both.


Eleni Deliyanni-Doris (University of Athens) 

TITLE: Accumulating knowledge and pictorial understanding: Doctoral researches and their contribution to the Post-Byzantine wall painting in mainland Greece

ABSTRACT: After a short introduction concerning the link (connection) between modern Greek culture and the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine past, this communication focuses on the researches undertaken by young Greek scholars in the frame of their doctoral degree on Post-Byzantine wall painting in mainland Greece. In their doctorates they investigate mostly painted monastic churches (katholika) of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, both religious and national centers of those days, built in remote places, far from the Turkish authorities, able to support the monastic community and safeguard, if necessary, the rights and possibility to build and adorn their churches. In their works the young authors discuss not only the iconographic program, the iconography and style of the paintings but also the history of the church and the geographic area, they analyze the votive inscriptions which often refer to chronological data, family names, professions, donors, land-property, historical events, and through the exhaustive comparisons with similar monuments they reveal the existence of forgotten or little known churches and monasteries in the area. In number and quality this scientific production has been remarkable till now. These doctorates have enabled the science of Byzantine Archaeology in Greece to enrich the repertory of the Post-Byzantine monuments in the mainland and to gain a far better view and understanding of history and art in the post-byzantine centuries. The loyalty of Post-Byzantine painters to the basic aesthetic value of medieval byzantine art justifies, for the case in Greece, the term “Post-Byzantine”, which aims to denote the continuation of byzantine tradition after the fall of Constantinople.


Eleni Dimitriadou (British Museum) 

Eleni Dimitriadou is a researcher at the British Museum icon collection and a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, London. She read Archaeology at the University of Ioannina (1998-2002) and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London (MA 2004, PhD 2010). Her doctoral thesis explored middle-Byzantine mosaics, with a special focus on the southwest vestibule mosaic of Hagia Sophia, Constantinople and its role within imperial ceremonial in the Byzantine capital. Eleni has held a Visiting Lecturer position at the Courtauld Institute on Late Antique and Byzantine art and has also taught for King’s College, London and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Additionally, she worked on the exhibition of a carved wooden cross from Mount Athos at the Courtauld Gallery. Her publications include an article on the role of light during Byzantine imperial ceremonies for the Proceedings of the Light and Fire in the Sacred Space Conference (2011) and contributions to the Catalogue of the Evangelos Averof Icon Collection.

TITLE: The British Museum Icon Collection in Context: The Challenge of an Online Catalogue

ABSTRACT: The vast majority of icons currently housed at the British Museum date after the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. Those belonging to the Russian tradition (72) have already been catalogued. The remaining 34 form the core of a second catalogue scheduled for publication later in 2013. With the exception of five that are dated to the Byzantine period, the rest of these icons form an amalgam of different dates and geographical origins, mostly from areas that fall within the modern Greek state. Ranging in chronology from the 15th to the 18th centuries and in provenance from northern Greece to Crete, this group is not easily categorised under a single term given that various areas of the Byzantine Empire passed under different political control (Western powers, Ottomans) at different times. This paper presents the issues raised when developing an online research catalogue that must both support the needs of specialist scholars and be accessible to the general public in its presentation and terminology.


Jelena Erdeljan (University of Belgrade) 

Jelena Erdeljan is assistant professor at the Department of Art History, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. Among her research interests are medieval art and culture of the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean, interaction of Byzantium and the Slavs, Jewish art and culture, Islamic art and culture, Serbian art of the Middle Ages, relation between official and popular culture in the Middle Ages, funerary art (Medieval Funerary Monuments in the Region of Ras, Beograd 1996) and the idea of Jerusalem in Slavia Orthodoxa. She is one of the founders and member of the academic board of the Center for Cypriot Studies and the Center for Hellenic and Byzantine Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, as well as project coordinator and lecturer at the workshop Jewish Art and Tradition held annually at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade and co-editor of Menora, Collection of Papers, Belgrade 2010. She is also associate editor of Symmeikta, Collection of Papers in Honour of the 40th Anninversary of the Institute for Art History, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, ed. I. Stevović, Belgrade 2012.

TITLE: The Contribution of Serbian Women from the Brankovic Dynasty to Orthodox Christian Culture in Post-Byzantine Times: Angelina Branković, Milica Despina Basarab and Jelena Ekaterina Rareş

ABSTRACT: Following the Nemanides and the Lazarevićs, the Branković family was the last of the holy dynasties who ruled over medieval Serbia. They lost their state and sovereignty to the Ottoman Turks with the fall of the last Serbian capital, Smederevo, in 1459. Nonetheless, members of this dynasty played a significant role in the political, cultural and ecclesiastic history not only of Serbia but of Southeastern Europe from the XIV to the XVI centuries, in both the Ottoman Empire (as best exemplified by Mara Branković) and the Christian states which resisted Turkish conquest, Hungary and Wallachia. This paper seeks to present in particular the role of women from the Branković dynasty in this phenomenon and their contribution to Orthodox Christian culture in post-Byzantine times. While living in exile, and thus sharing the fate of numerous Byzantine aritstocratic families in the centuries after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, members of the Branković dynasty who found refuge in Srem were steadfast in their Orthodox faith and strove to preserve and continually nurture the ideology of the Serbian medieval state and church through the promotion of cults of their two holy founders, SS. Sava and Symeon, as well as through the cult of the holy prince Lazar. Of particular significance in this process were the activities of the holy mother Angelina Branković, wife of Stefan Branković and mother of Jovan Branković (the last Serbian despot) and of the holy bishop Maksim Branković, and her two granddaughters, Milica Despina and Jelena Ekaterina, daughters of despot Jovan Branković. One of the most significant contributions of Angelina Branković was her engagement as the founder of a number of monasteries in Srem, on the holy mountain of Fruška Gora, first and foremost of Krušedol (the new Studenica i.e. Ravanica of the Branković family in exile, center of cult of state-ideology and dynasty). Milica Despina, who was married to Nagoe Basaraba, was the ktetor of Wallachian monasteries of Curtea d’Arjes (where she is buried) and Ostrov and a benefactor of Athonite monasteries. Jelena Ekaterina, wife of Petar Rares, made contributions to the monastery of Putna. All three were patrons of literacy and inspired the copying of medieval Serbian liturgical texts and hagiographies of saints from the Nemanide and Lazarević dynasties, as well as the creation of a new cycle of hagiographies and services dedicated to the new saints from the Branković family from Srem, above all the holy bishop Maksim Brankovic and his mother, St. Angelina Branković. This played a significant role in maintaining the continuity of ideas and cultural models, as well as of pertaining poetic forms and iconography, which lay at the core of the Orthodox identity of the Serbs and their medieval state and church.


Olga Gratziou (University of Crete) 

Olga Gratziou is Professor emerita of Byzantine Art and Archaeology at the University of Crete (Greece). From 1996 to 2012 she directed the project Western Art in Crete under Venetian Domination (13th to 17th centuries) at the Institute of Mediterranean Studies (Foundation of Technology and Research) in Rethymno. Her most recent monograph is entitled Crete in the Later Middle Ages: The Witness of its Ecclesiastical Architecture (Crete University Press, 2010, in Greek). Other areas of her research include Greek illuminated manuscripts after the invention of the printing press, icon painting, and the reception of Byzantium from the 19th century on.

TITLE: Beyond the Borders of an Awkward Definition

ABSTRACT: Terminologies are never innocent, never deprived of secondary connotations and ideologies. This is inevitable because the name given to a historical phenomenon comprises also an interpretation of it. Post-Byzantine art is certainly a negative definition: negative because it denotes a cultural phenomenon regarding not what it is but what it is not: not any more Byzantine. I argue that the need for such a definition originates, on the one hand, from the lack of a better term to describe some features of the long lasting transition from medieval Byzantium to the Early Modern era over a big part of the European continent which had not experienced the Renaissance. On the other hand, the term also serves a particular perception of Byzantium itself which, in a way, underlines its uniqueness. In an attempt to answer some of the questions posed by the organizers of the conference, this paper will focus on some aspects of Christian art in Venetian Crete. In chronological terms the era discussed corresponds to the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods in Western Europe. The aim is to demonstrate the ambivalent character of art and culture of a Greek region under Latin domination, thereby illustrating the limitations of the term Post-Byzantine for defining all aspects of the multifaceted artistic evidence of the island.


Alexei Lidov (Moscow State University) 

Alexei Lidov is a world known specialist in Byzantine iconography, Eastern Christian sacred images and theory of art. Lidov is the founder and director of the Research Centre for Eastern Christian Culture in Moscow (since 1991) and the Director of Research of the Institute for World Culture at the Moscow State University, and an academician of the Russian Academy of Arts (elected in 2007). Lidov is the author and editor of 23 monographs, catalogues and collections of articles, among them: Jerusalem in Russian Culture (Moscow 1994; New York Athens 2005), The Eastern Christian Church. Liturgy and Art (Saint Petersburg 1994), The Miracle Working Icon in Byzantium and Old Rus' (Moscow 1996), Byzantine Icons of Sinai (Moscow — Athens 1999), The Iconostasis. Origins Evolution Symbolism (Moscow 2000), Eastern Christian Relics (Moscow 2003), Hierotopy. The Creation of Sacred Spaces in Byzantium and Medieval Russia (Moscow 2006), New Jerusalems. Hierotopy and Iconography of Sacred Spaces (Moscow 2009), Spatial Icons. Performativity in Byzantium and Medieval Russia (Moscow 2011), Light and Fire in the Sacred Space (Moscow 2011). Lidov’s studies in Byzantine iconography, miracle-working icons and relics allowed him to develop a new research field of Hierotopy, in other words, the making of sacred spaces and the historical research that defines this special form of human creativity. Hierotopy spans the traditional fields of art history, archaeology, anthropology, and religious studies, but coincides with none of them. The concept of Hierotopy has been developed in Lidov’s monograph Hierotopy. Spatial Icons and Image-Paradigms in Byzantine Culture (Moscow 2009). See

TITLE: Pattern Books versus Spatial Visions. Russian Iconicity after the Fall of Constantinople

ABSTRACT: In this paper I will argue that the appearance of the icon-painter’s patternbook (litsevoi ikonopysnyi podlinnik) in the 16th century was one of the crucial factors in the development of the Russian art after 1453. It considerably changed the basic Byzantine concept of icons as spatial images mediating between the earthly and heavenly realms. Moreover, the patternbook transformed the whole process of icon painting which was reduced to reproduction of fixed schemes, then painted by the conventional colors. The common contemporary perception of icons as flat and decorative pictures charged with particular religious messages goes back to this unofficial reform, which declared the following to Byzantine models, but in practice destroyed the principles of the Eastern Christian iconicity.


Emmanuel S. Moutafov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) 


Born in 1968 in Sofia; Education and research career: 1987, graduated from the National College of Ancient Languages and Cultures “St. Cyril”, Sofia and published his first book entitled Pagan Elements in the Cult and Iconography of St. Eliah in Bulgarian; 1988-89, studied History at the University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski”; 1989, accepted at the University of Athens, Philosophy Department, majored in Archaeology and Art History; 1996, took Master’s Degree in Greece; 1996-97, specialized in Byzantine and Slavonic Palaeography and Art at the Research Center for Slavo-Byzantine Studies “Ivan Dujčev” in Sofia; 2001, became a Ph.D. in world history of the 15th-19th centuries at the Institute for Balkan Studies, Sofia, with the book Europeanization on Paper: Treatises on Painting in Greek during the First Half of the 18th Century, Sofia, 2001; 2003 (March–May) Visiting Research Fellow at the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, NJ; 2010 became an Associate Professor of Medieval and Post-Byzantine Art at the Institute for Art Studies, Sofia; 2010 became a member of the Scientific Board at the Institute for Art Studies and a member of the General Assembly of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; 2011 (October – December) A. Mellon Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin; 2012 (January – March) A. Mellon Foundation fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem; 2012 (June – July) Getty Foundation research fellow in the summer research group “Visions of Byzantium”, Istanbul, Turkey; 2013 became a supervisor of research at the Director’s board of the Institute for Art Studies.

TITLE: Post-Bulgarian Art!? Why not?

ABSTRACT: Bulgarian intellectuals began to leave their homeland long before it was conquered by the Ottomans. It is enough to mention the names of Cyprian, an all Russian bishop from 1389 until his death in 1406, and the name of his nephew Gregorji Tsamblak, who was originally abbot of the Dechani monastery in Serbia and after that served as a Metropolitan preacher in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in the Moldavian capital Suceava and died as a bishop of Kiev (1414-1420). Other Bulgarian clerics founded some of the most famous in the Middle Ages Romanian monasteries like: Vodița (1372), Tismana (1378) and Neamț (1392). Therefore, in the Trans-Danubian Principalities the official language of the church and the aristocracy was the Paleobulgarian at least until the seventeenth century. The great authority of the last Bulgarian Patriarch Euthymius and the life work of some Bulgarian men of letters in Serbia influenced Serbian literature and contributed to the development of the so called Resavska literary school. Centers of this school became the monasteries on the Morava River. Manuscripts of this linguistic and artistic edition appear almost until the nineteenth century in Bulgarian and Serbian literature, which shows the important part of this school for the protection of the traditions of the South Slavic literature. In other words, even at the end of the fourteenth century Bulgarian clergymen via Paleobulgarian language started to actively influence the processes in the cultures of Russia, Serbia, Moldavia, Wallachia and Ukraine. If we use the familiar mythological that together with the Fall of Constantinople and respectively the end of the Eastern Roman empire a lot of Byzantine scholars migrated in Italy, Western Europe and Crete, where they created the foundations of the Post-Byzantine culture and art, then the above mentioned examples of migration of Bulgarian intellectuals to the North and West, should mean that they laid a basis for a Post-Bulgarian tradition. Although it may sound, however slender, is such a theory politically correct? Why Balkan Christian nations after their deliberation from the Ottomans do not develop Post-Ottoman art? Is it proper the periodization, we use? How adequate are the terms that are understandable only by the Byzantinists? What happens in Bulgarian lands during the Ottoman period?


Dragoş-Gheorghe Năstăsoiu (Central European University)

Dragoş Gh. Năstăsoiu graduated from the National University of Arts in Bucharest (BA in Art History and Art Theory, 2008) and received his MA in Medieval Studies from the Central European University in Budapest (2009). He is currently working on his PhD at the CEU on The Representation in Mural Painting of the "sancti reges Hungariae" in the Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century as a Religious, Political, Social, and Artistic Phenomenon. He taught seminars on Medieval and Modern Art at the UNArte-Bucharest (2010) and, as a Junior Member of the Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies of the CEU, he was a Teaching Fellow at the Art History Department of the Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia, where he taught Style Analysis as a Method for Art Historical Research (2012). He currently holds a Scholarship within the framework of the National Scholarship Programme of the Slovak Republic for pursuing his research on medieval mural painting in Slovakia. He was also involved in a restoration campaign in Northern Moldavia (Bălineşti-Suceava, 2007). His research interests include mural painting iconography in Central Europe, with a particular emphasis on medieval Hungary and Transylvania.

TITLE: ‘East Meets West’: the Iconography of Orthodox Mural Painting in Transylvania during the Fifteenth Century

ABSTRACT: The south-western and south-eastern border areas of the Voivodat of Transylvania and Hungarian Kingdom, that is, the terrae of Haţeg and Zarand, respectively, even though integrated to different medieval political structures, represented throughout the Middle Ages a region with ethnical and confessional individuality. Enjoying a certain autonomy within the kingdom's structure, these districta Valachorum were inhabited mainly by Vlachs (Romanians) which adopted earlier on Christianity in its Byzantine-Slavic variant, but needed continuously to cope with their Catholic and more powerful lords. The local landowners, the so-called cnezi (sing. cnez), received remote echoes of the Byzantine-Slavic cultural model and became its vehicle in the area; a consequence of their activity in the 14th and 15th century is the foundation of churches on their estates and their decoration with mural painting. Even though they are pastiches of western ecclesiastical architecture (small single-nave churches with square apse, western towers, openings marked by Romanesque and Gothic stonework, and façades punctuated by Roman spolia), these modest churches display either a good-quality or provincial mural decoration, but attests unequivocally their usage by the Orthodox. The selection of themes and their local adaptation in these churches' iconography ‒ the incomplete and often interfering cycles of Great Feasts and Passion giving prominence to certain scenes; the enriching of the Last Judgment with illustrations of the Capital Sins and motifs coming from apocryphal sources; the importance of military saints on horse in the register of saints; and the joining of votive compositions to representations of the Catholic holy kings of Hungary, military saints and the Exaltation of the Cross ‒ reflects the social and political reality of their founders who, after having been persecuted by the Angevin rulers, started to play an important military role in King Sigismund of Luxemburg's attempt to oppose the Ottomans. The cnezi's desire to improve their social standing and gain political prominence lead inevitably to the adoption of Catholicism or Reformation in the 16th century and their assimilation by the kingdom's élite. Therefore, if the Byzantine Empire could not exert a direct influence on this border area situated between Orthodox and Catholic, but an Orthodox art and culture ‒ no matter how modest, provincial and adjustable to its immediate reality ‒ existed here, could one speak about post-Byzantine art before the Fall of Constantinople? Or could one even venture and suggest a post-Serbian art, for previous art historians assumed connections of 14th- and 15th-century Orthodox art in Transylvania with medieval Serbian art?


Zaza Skhirtladze (Tbilisi State University) 

Zaza Skhirtladze is the Head of the Institute of the History and Theory of Art, Faculty of Humanities, Tbilisi State University, Georgia. His area of studies is Medieval Georgian Art, particularly monumental painting. Among his monographs are Historical Figures at Kolagiri Monastery in the Gareja Desert (2000); The Tomb of Saint David Garejeli (2006); Early Medieval Georgian Monumental Painting. Telovani Church of the Holy Cross (2008); The Frescoes of Otkhta Eklesia (2009). He is also the head of the Gareja Studies Centre and the editor of the Treasury of Gareja some volumes of which have already been published. He is currently heading the projects Corpus of the Historical Figures in Georgian Art and Prosopography of Medieval Georgian Craftsmen.

TITLE: Unbroken paths of communication: Patterns of Patronage in Sixteenth-century Georgian Art

ABSTRACT: The Late Middle Ages was a period of hardship in Georgia. The once united and powerful state, as a result of continuous invasions, and owing to the continuous internecine fight between the royal court and local rulers, at the end of the fifteenth century broke up into separate kingdoms and principalities. With great difficulty did they repulse the inroads of surrounding Muslim states, and were almost continually engaged in warfare with each other. The only circumstance that united the Georgians by that time was awareness of the necessity of upholding the Christian confession, which was tantamount to national self-preservation. Difficulties caused by the devastating invasions and disintegration of the country, left their imprint on the character of creative activity and accordingly on art. Yet, conscious Georgia, her spiritual life was still following its uninterrupted path. During that complicated period certain stages of development are discernible as well, although not in the whole country but in its separate regions - revered kingdoms and principalities of Odishi and Guria in Western Georgia, and Kakheti in Eastern Georgia were distinguished for relative political and economic stability. In the course of the Late Middle Ages possibly complete continuation of the age-old tradition of Christian art was mainly undertaken in the monasteries located in various regions of Georgia. By the efforts of the royal court and the local nobility contacts were preserved with the most significant spiritual centres of the Eastern Christendom, threatened by that time - the Holy Land, Mount Athos, Sinai. At the same time, creative activity continued though not so intensively as before in Gareja, Shiomghvime, Nekresi, Shuamta, Gelati, Shemokmedi, as well as in other small and large local monasteries. Murals, metal and painted icons, embroideries, lavishly illuminated manuscripts were being created. What is more significant, it is in this media that thanks to weakened but yet still active creative energy, it became possible to preserve uninterrupted and actually unaltered the artistic creativity completely akin to the Christian spirituality. Similar to the major part of the East Christian world, gradual decrease of old vital energy is clearly discernible in the Late Medieval Georgian visual art, including mural paintings. Under these conditions, alongside traditional, the new, so-called folk trend emerged, marked by the plainness and naivety as well as simplified modes of expression. Simultaneously, the so-called official, court art continued its existence; it was actually based on the old traditions and, at the same time, shared artistic principles of painting elaborated in contemporaneous Christian Orthodox centres, mostly Athonite. In this respect especially noteworthy are murals executed in the third-seventh decades of the sixteenth century in the churches and monasteries of Kakheti as well as on Mount Athos, in Philotheos monastery by the commission of King Levan (1518-1574). The Late Medieval wall paintings of the so-called official stream show various trends. They were mainly executed by local highly skilled artists. Apart from these, the murals or separate parts of decorations done by invited masters are also met. For its part, the royal court, the nobility and representatives of the local Church, spared no effort – often jointly – to give all-out support to Georgian churches and monasteries abroad, as well as in general to Christian Orthodox spiritual centres. This involved both financial aid and construction and renovation, painting, as well as donations of painted and chased icons, church embroidery, liturgical objects, and lavishly illuminated manuscripts. All this was based on the striving – in face of great difficulties – to remain as an inseparable part of the Christian Orthodox world, and to keep paths unaltered.


Emily L. Spratt (Princeton University) 

Emily L. Spratt is a Ph. D. candidate at Princeton University in Renaissance and Baroque Art History with a specialization in Venice and the Mediterranean. Having completed a M.A. in Byzantine Art History from UCLA and a B.A. in Religious Studies, the History of Art, and Psychology from Cornell University, Emily is able to combine the perspectives gained by the Renaissance and Byzantine fields of study in her project on “post-Byzantium.” With experience at the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens, the Benaki Museum, and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Emily has collaborated on a number of projects and international exhibitions in Greece and has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Onassis Foundation, the American Research Center in Sofia, the Vittore Branca Research Center in Venice, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute, the Program in Hellenic Studies at Princeton, the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at UCLA, and the Institute for European Studies at Cornell. Her forthcoming dissertation is entitled, “Byzantium not Forgotten: Constructing the Artistic and Cultural Legacy of an Empire between East and West in the Early Modern Period.” Closely related to the theme of the conference, her article, “Toward a Definition of “Post-Byzantine” Art: The Angleton Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum,” will appear this spring in the museum’s journal, Record.

TITLE: Defying Borders, not Definition: ‘Post-Byzantine’ Art and the Resiliency of the Networked Community

ABSTRACT: To date, the term “Post-Byzantine,” has been loosely employed to describe the Orthodox Christian art and architecture produced after the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Uncritically utilized, this title has a connotation of decline, dismisses acknowledgment of the contemporary reality of foreign rule in Byzantium’s former territories, and fosters analyses of this art that are exclusively stylistic. While there is increasing awareness of the term’s problematic associations and even consideration of its elimination, a suitable alternative has yet to replace it. Rather than dismiss the value of the term “Post-Byzantine,” I propose the development of a precise definition of it, one that recognizes both the parallel and diverse artistic trends that developed across Orthodox communities in disparate environments long after the empire’s political collapse. By examining Post-Byzantine art through the perspectives offered by Byzantine, Renaissance, Ottoman, and Slavic fields of study, the changed socio-political and religious circumstances of the early modern world, as they relate to the study of this material, may be more effectively recognized. In the same vein, understanding how the continuity of a tradition could be both aesthetically innovative and have the capacity to safeguard the tenets of Orthodoxy provides a fascinating template from which to gauge the visual cultures of seemingly divergent Orthodox communities that were, in fact, often networked. Properly defined, Post-Byzantine art may be understood as a cross-cultural phenomenon more in line with broader trends that have come to define the early modern world rather than as an uninspired survival of eastern medievalism, as it has been too often treated. 


Răzvan Theodorescu (Romanian Academy) 

Răzvan Theodorescu is Professor of Medieval Art at the University of Arts in Bucharest, expert in medieval and pre- modern art in South-East Europe (Byzantium, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania). He wrote several books devoted to this topic: Byzantium, Balkans and West at the origins of the Romanian Culture – 10th-14th centuries (1974), A millennium of Art at the Lower Danube- 400-1400 (1976), Roumains et Balkaniques dans la civilisation Sud-est européenne (1999). He is a member of the Romanian Academy (president of the Art section), member of the Macedonian Academy, and member of the Albanian Academy. Since 1994 he is General Secretary of the Association of South-East European Studies - UNESCO.

TITLE: The Moldavian Mural Painting in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries

ABSTRACT: Little over twenty years had passed since the fall of Byzantium when in 1475, the Prince of Moldavia, Stephen the Great, was blocking the march of the Sultan Mohammed II, the conqueror of Constantinople and was reminding the sovereign courts of Europe in a letter that his country was "a gate of Christianity" ("questa porta della christianita"), a defence location for the continent in the last century of the virtual Crusades. It was a world placed between the Paleologan East and the Gothic West, in the times of the fall of the greatest Christian imperial capital and of the collapse of a civilization model which concentrated in its ideology and imagination the anxieties of the age, the crusading goals of the mightiest of the place to take over, like the Wallachian and Moldavian princes, the mission of the Byzantine Emperors, of the Serbian "krals" and of the Bulgarian "tsars" to protect Orthodoxy. In Moldavia loudly proclaiming its belonging to the Eastern Orthodox spirit rejecting the unionist decisions of the 1439 Concil of Florence and the Greek "betrayal" which soon brought divine retribution against Byzantium, the prince mounting the throne in April 1457 ruled in his not very extensive Romanian country over a civilization that distinguished itself by its European Christian values. Proclaiming his descent from the founders of Moldavia, Stephen the Great showed adecquate founding care for the primordial political nucleus of the country. Thus, Northern Moldavia, "the country of the beech trees" or Bucovina , where in the 14th century the first princely capitals had already emerged at Baia, Siret and Suceava, became the privileged space of the monumental political accomplishments of the prince , whose ideology supported Orthodoxy and the late Crusades. The phenomenon of exterior painting illustrated by themes that along the decades are repeated responding to certain liturgical needs and signification will be met on the large or reduced surfaces of some older or newer churches in Hârlău, Probota, Suceava - between 1530 and 1534 -, later on it will receive specific features for each monument, reflecting a stylistic diversity which expresses an impressive iconographic unity, a diverse artistic language supporting a doctrinal unity that belongs to the Moldavian Orthodoxy between 1535- 1555, illustrated by the sacred buildings in Humor, Moldovița, Arbore, Voroneț and Râșca. It is certain that in 1530 when the Moldavian believers could see the first walls of the churches entirely clad with polychrome frescoes depicting figures hundreds of sacred characters , this artistic phenomenon which can already be considered as postmedieval was reflecting in its evolution a mentality and a sensibility that no longer belonged to the Middle Ages, but by the iconographic cloth of the Byzantine tradition. Yet which is the meaning of this cultural background revealed by the second quarter of 16-th century Moldavia? What we grasp as something really new, unusual at a time of gradual assertion of creative individuality – artistic, literary and political -, in a time of missionaries, travellers, even of adventurers, open to all novelties of the moment, what appears to us as a new impetuous need of the spirit in the Romanian space is the thirst to recount, to narrate, to bring into light – for as many people as possible- the history which is sacred and profane at the same time, recent and remote as well.


Edda Vardanyan (Matenadaran, Yerevan) 

Edda Vardanyan obtained her PhD in Art History, in 2001, from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne) with a thesis on “The miniaturist Minas, 15th century“. She is a scholar at the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts of the Armenian Republic (Matenadaran of Erevan). Since 2002, she is an associated scholar at the Centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance (Paris). In 2012, she was the curator of the exhibition Reflets d’Arménie : manuscrits et art religieux, organized by the Scriptorial d’Avranches - the museum of the manuscripts of Mont-Saint-Michel (France).

TITLE: Textes et images de la version arménienne du Roman d’Alexandre: expression de l’idéologie du pouvoir

ABSTRACT: Des quelque 80 manuscrits arméniens du Pseudo-Callisthène, dix présentent des illustrations. Ces codex, datables entre le XIVe et le XVIIe siècle, ont été produits dans des contextes différents. Cette intervention se propose de situer chaque manuscrit dans son contexte historique et politique : en effet, les manuscrits illustrés du Roman d’Alexandre semblent-ils paraître périodiquement lors d’un changement d'orientation politique de l'époque (la chute de la royauté au XIVe siècle, et plus tard, les tentatives de rétablir le pouvoir royal arménien). Un regard particulier sera posé sur les personnages impliqués dans la production des manuscrits et des cycles iconographiques évoquant la « domination parfaite » d’Alexandre. Il s’agit d’ecclésiastiques de haut rang, descendant des dynasties royales ou des familles princières arméniennes, dont l’influence idéologique se reflète dans le langage artistique. L’illustration du Roman d’Alexandre exprime l'illusion de l'instauration d'un pouvoir politique et permet de mieux connaître la politique de l’image dans le milieu des intellectuels arméniens.