ART 102 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Byzantine Architecture, Nika Riots, Apse

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14 Dec 2016
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Byzantine Art
-Byzantine can be thought of broadly as the art of Constantinople (originally called
Byzantium before Constantine renamed it after himself)
-Byzantine art has three golden ages
Early Byzantine—Constantinople (present-day Istanbul); Byzantium
-Early Byzantine: associated with reign of Emperor Justinian I (527-565)
-began in 5th century and ended in 726 at the onset of iconoclast controversy that led
to the destruction of religious images
-Byzantine political power, wealth, and culture were at their peak int his period
-Revenna became the Eastern Empire’s administrative capital in the West and Rome
remained under nominal Byzantine control until the 8th century
Church of San Vitale and its mosaics (begun c. 520; consecrated 547)
Ravenna, Italy,
Emperor Justinian; Empress Theodora; Bishop Ecclesius of Ravenna; martyrium;
exedrae (wall niches); dome on pendentives (concave triangles beneath arches)
-Ecclesius, bishop of Ravenna commissioned 2 new churches
-began 526
-one for the city
-one for the port, Classis
-central plan church, martyrium (church built over the grave of a martyr)
-finished after Justinian conquered Ravenna and established it as the administrative
capital of Byzantine Italy
-design: central domed octagon surrounded by 8 radiating exedrae (wall niches),
surrounded by ambulatory and gallery, all covered by vaults
-rectangular sanctuary and semicircular apse project from one of the sides
-circular rooms flank the apse (apsidal chapels)
-oval narthex (antechamber), set off axis, joined church and palace and let to
cylindrical stair tower that led to gallery on second floor
-entering from right only saw arched openings
-entering from left saw straight ahead, because entering at axis of sanctuary
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016
-two story exedrae open through arcades into outer aisles on ground floor and into
galleries on second floor
-push out circular central same and create an airy floating sensation reinforced by
veined marble veneer and colored glass and gold mosaic in the surface decoration
-image of Christ Enthroned flanked by St Vitalis (4th c Roman martyr) and Bishop
Ecclesius is in the half dome of sanctuary apse
-relate to celebration of the Eucharist
-lunette (arched opening on dome ceiling) on north wall shows altar table set for a
meal that Abraham offers to 3 holy visitors and a portrayal of Issac
-symbolic references to Jesus, prophets and Evangelists are illustrated in the
spandrels and framed wall spaces
-focus of sanctuary is courtly table in semidome of the apse
-Christ appears on axis, wearing imperial purple and enthroned on a cosmic orb in
paradise
-setting indicated by four rivers that flow from the ground underneath him
-flanked by winged angels — imperial bodyguards or attendants
-holding scroll with 7 seals in left hand — will open scroll at his Second coming at end
of time proclaiming age and age to come
-right hand extended to offer crown of martyrdom to figure on his right labeled as St.
Vitalis
-on the other side is Bishop Ecclesius, holding a model of the church offering it to
Christ
-two large mosaic panels of Justinian and Theodora, that face each other across the
sanctuary picture their presence here in perpetuity
-Justinian on the North wall carries large golden paten that will be used to hold the
Eucharistic host and stands next to Maximianus who holds a golden jewel-encrusted
cross
-priests holding golden jeweled covered book symbolizing the coming of the Word
-Theodora on the South wall, seated beneath fluted shell canopy, wearing a golden
halo and elaborate crown, caring huge, gold, chalice studded with jewels
-rulers present these gifts as offerings to Christ
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