4 Tutorials that teach Byzantine Art and Architecture
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Byzantine Art and Architecture

Byzantine Art and Architecture

Author: Aleisha Olson

This lesson will provide an introduction to the art and architecture of the Byzantine Empire.

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This lesson discusses Byzantine art and architecture, focusing on icons and the use of pedentives and squinches in building domed structures.


Image of Madonna and Child, Public Domain, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ac.byzantine1.gif; Image of Christ Pantokrator, Church of the Dormition, Daphni, Public Domain, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Meister_von_Daphni_002.jpg; Image of Hagia Sophia, Creative Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aya_Sofya.jpg; Image of Dome of Hagia Sophia, Public Domain, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AYA_Sophia2012.22.jpg; Image of San Vitale, Ravenna, Creative Commons, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Basilica_of_San_Vitale,_Ravenna,_Italy.jpg; Image of Dome of San Vitale, Ravenna, Creative Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ravenna-sanvitale03.jpg; Image of Choir of San Vitale, Ravenna, Creative Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SanVitale08.jpg; Image of Mosaic of Justinian, Bishop Maximianus, and Attendants, San Vitale, Ravenna, PD-1923, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meister_von_San_Vitale_in_Ravenna_003.jpg; Image of Empress Theodora and Attendants, San Vitale, Ravenna, PD-old-auto-1923, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Theodora_mosaik_ravenna.jpg

Terms to Know
  • Byzantine

    A term referencing the Byzantine Empire, a style of art developed during the Byzantine Empire characterized by religious iconography, very formal, shallow pictorial space and rich colors.

  • Byzantium

    A Greek city rebuilt by Constantine in 330 AD and renamed Constantinople.

  • Pantocrator

    Refers to a specific Christian iconography; icon image of Christ understood in Greek as “ruler of all.”

  • Pendentive

    An architectural term; a construction that allows the placement of the circular dome over a rectangular room.

  • Picture Plane

    The invisible plane that corresponds to the surface of the painting, the picture plane is like a window opening out onto another world.

  • Reverse Perspective

    Also called Byzantine perspective where lines of vanishing points diverge outside the picture plane or outside a painting.

  • Squinch

    An architecture term; a small arch, or corbelling built across the interior between two walls as a support in a square tower.