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Byzantine Art

Code: 100563 ECTS Credits: 6
Degree Type Year Semester
2500239 Art History OB 3 2
The proposed teaching and assessment methodology that appear in the guide may be subject to changes as a result of the restrictions to face-to-face class attendance imposed by the health authorities.


Manuel Antonio Castiņeiras Gonzalez

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
spanish (spa)
Some groups entirely in English:
Some groups entirely in Catalan:
Some groups entirely in Spanish:

Other comments on languages

Lessons will be delivered in Spanish.


A minimum knowledge of English or French is required in order to carry out the supervised and autonomous activities. It's worth remembering that most of the material for the course works are written in English.

Objectives and Contextualisation


This course is part of the general subject Medieval Art History, of 24 ECTS, which includes four courses:Art in Europe from the 4th to the 10th centuries, Byzantine Art, Romanesque Art and Gothic Art.


The aim of this course is to lay the ground to enable the student to know and be familiar with basic knowledge of the chronological development of the artistic image, its formal values, its iconographic meanings, artistic techniques and procedures as well as its reception in the Byzantine milieu.

Students are expected to acquire on the course analytical, comparative and critical tools and basic methodology in order to acknowledge several forms of cultural expression and mainly  to place Byzantine forms of expression within their geographical and political framework as well as their transmission in Europe, the Slav world, the Eastern Mediterranean countries and the Middle East.



1-Students  are expected to acquire deep knowledge on the Arts of Byzantium or Byzantine-like expressions with a particular focus on its chronological, formal and typological development within the Byzantine milieu.


2- The ultimate goal of the course is to acquire deep knowledge on the connections between Art and the historical, political and cultural background of Byzantine society and its areas of influence, as well as on the several functions and contents of the artwork within this period. 


  • Critically analysing from the acquired knowledge a work of art in its many facets: formal values, iconographic significance, artistic techniques and procedures, elaboration process and reception mechanisms.
  • Developing critical thinking and reasoning and communicating them effectively both in your own and other languages.
  • Interpreting a work of art in the context in which it was developed and relating it with other forms of cultural expression.
  • Recognising the evolution of the artistic imagery from the antiquity to the contemporary visual culture.
  • Students must be capable of applying their knowledge to their work or vocation in a professional way and they should have building arguments and problem resolution skills within their area of study.
  • Students must develop the necessary learning skills in order to undertake further training with a high degree of autonomy.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Accurately defining and explaining an artistic object with the specific language of art criticism.
  2. Analysing ideas about an artistic phenomenon in a given cultural context.
  3. Analysing the creators of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  4. Analysing the recipients of an artistic phenomenon in a specific cultural context.
  5. Applying the iconographic knowledge to the reading of artistic imagery.
  6. Connecting an artistic imagery with other cultural phenomena within its period.
  7. Distinguishing the elaboration techniques and processes of an artistic object.
  8. Efficiently presenting knowledge in oral and written form.
  9. Encouraging creativity and fomenting innovative ideas.
  10. Examining an artistic imagery and distinguishing its formal, iconographic and symbolic values.
  11. Explaining the reception mechanisms of a work of art.
  12. Identifying the artistic imagery, placing it into its cultural context.
  13. Identifying the main and secondary ideas and expressing them with linguistic correctness.
  14. Reconstructing the artistic outlook of a particular cultural context.
  15. Working in teams, respecting the other's points of view and designing collaboration strategies.



Unit 1. The Arts of Byzantium: Introduction. Justinian’s prestigious models: architecture, mosaics, manuscript illumination, enamels, ivories and metalwork objects. Byzantine aesthetics, religious settings and expressions of faith: icons and the cult of sacred images. - Pilgrimage Art in Byzantium: (IV-X centuries): Eulogia, Charisteria and Encolpia.

Unit 2. The Art of Coptic Christianity: Byzantine Egypt.Monasticism, churches and rock sites. Iconography and visual content. Textiles. Liturgical implements. Icons  and manuscript illumination.

Unit 3. Towards a Christian Orthodox Empire (680-843): Iconoclasm and the resolution of the Iconoclastic controversy. Islamic invasion: Umayyad Art and Byzantine Art.  Iconoclasm as a sociological and conceptual phenomenon. Second Council of Nicaea (787). Wall paintings, icons and manuscript illumination.

Unit 4. Middle Byzantium (843-1204): Byzantium’s continuous engagement with its ancient past and the re-establishment of icon veneration. Macedonian and Komnenian Renaissance. -Courtly Art: architectural renewal of Constantinople. -Art in the monastery: domed cross-in-square plan. The Hosios Loukas model. -Cappadoce: architecture and rock painting.  –Second flowering of Hellenistic aesthetics: an intensified revival of interest in classical art forms and ancient literature: mosaics, manuscript illumination, and ivory carving.  Komnenian painting: pathos and movement. Mosaic and fresco programmes decorating vaulted and domed spaces to complement narrative. 

Unit 5. The Arts ofArmenia: Peculiarities of the Armenian Christianity. The Armenian principalities. The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. Greater Armenia and Lesser Armenia. –Armenia and Byzantium (9th-11th centuries): architecture, carved reliefs and wall paintings. Aght’amar. Khatchkar. Manuscripts and metalwork objects. –Armenia and the Crusades (12th century). The Arts of the Great Armenia (13th-15th centuries): architecture and manuscript illumination.

Unit 6. Byzantium and the West: Italy, maritime trade and Constantinople: bronze doors. –Interchange networks within the Crusades and the Latin Conquest of Byzantium. –Crusaders Art. Venice, Norman Sicily, Cyprus and the Holy Land. Architecture and pictorial arts: circulation of Constantinopolitan models and local traditions. St. Mark’s Treasure. Byzantine models in the West.

Unit 7. Palaiologan Renaissance: Colourful use of materials and decorative motifs.Constantinople, Thessaloniki and Mystras.New pictorial humanism:narrative and expression.The Manual of the Painter of Mount Athos. Presence of Byzantine Art in Spain: Skylitzes, The Cuenca diptych and the Akathistos Escurialensis.

Unit 8. Byzantine Art: from the Balkans to Russia: Serbia,Bulgaria and Moravia. Russian-Byzantine architecture: Kiev and Novgorod. Moscow:  the third Rome. Ivories and icons. Theophanes the Greek and Andrei Rublev.

Unit 9. Women and arts in Byzantium.  Linage, education, patronage and devotions. The woman artists.









Professor's Lectures will be complemented by student self-learning by delivering book and text comments.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Lessons (From Units 1 to 9) 50 2 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 1, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 6, 15
Type: Supervised      
Comment on texts 50 2 3, 4, 2, 7, 11, 14, 6, 15
Type: Autonomous      
To write a review paper to be delivered 50 2 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 7, 10, 15



-First grade: written exam (50%). It will be evaluated the theoretical and practical knowledge that students have learnt during the lessons by the comparison of 3 images. The exam consists of: 3 pages to develop this comparison. 

-Second grade: submission of a written book review (to be chosen among a list provided by the Professor)  (25%). 

-Thrid grade: written comment on texts dealing with topics which have been explained during the lectures (25 %). 


The final grade will be the result of the addition of the written exam (50%), the book review (25%), and the comment on texts (25%). 

  • Final grade: it will be the additon of the grade of the written papers and that of the exam. The result will be divide by 2.

    As far the reassessment exam is concerned, its date is officilly fixed.  This proof only involves the grade of the exam. Who has not submitted the papers can not pass this exam.

  • Students with a grade equal to or higher than 3,5 but less than 5 have the option to sit a reassessment exam. This exam will have in terms of content the characteristics of a final exam. 



Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
First Evidence: Written test 50% 0 0 2, 12, 5, 9, 14, 6, 8, 15
Second Evidence: written review of a book 25% 0 0 1, 13, 15
Third Evidence: written comment on texts 25% 0 0 3, 4, 2, 12, 5, 1, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 6






  • Acheimastou-Potamianou, Mirtaly, Greek Art. Byzantine Wall-Paintings, Atenes, 1994.
  • Cameron, Averil, Byzantine Matters, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2014.
  • Cormack, Robin, Byzantine Art, Oxford History of Art, Oxford, 2000.
  • Holy Images. Hallowed Ground. Icons from Sinai, Robert. S. Nelson, Kristen. M. Collins (eds.), The John Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2006.
  • Jorba, Montserrat, Les majestats de la Cerdanya, Edicions Saloria, Barcelona, 2017.
  • Curcic, Slobodan, Architecture in the Balkans. From Diocletian to Süleyman the Magnificient, Yale University Press, New Haven-London, 2010.
  • Evans, Helen C.; Ratliff, Brandie (ed.), Byzantium and Islam. Age of Transition, 7th-9th Century, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012.
  • Evans, Helen C. (ed.), Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557). Perspectives on Late Byzantine Art and Culture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007. http://www.metmuseum.org/research/metpublications/Byzantium_Faith_and_Power_1261_1557
  • Lowden, John, The Octateuchs. A Study in Byzantine Manuscript Illumination, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1992.
  • Lowden, John, Early Christan & Bizantine Art, Phaidon, Londres, 1997 (2008).
    • Matthews, Thomas F., The Art of Byzantium, Hong Kong, 1998.
    • Nelson, Robert S.; COLLINS, Kristen M. (ed.), Holy Images. Hallowed Ground. Icons from Sinai, The John Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,2006.
      • Ousterhout, Robert, Master Buiders of Byzantium, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1999.
      • Paloumpis Hallick, Mary, The Story of Icons, Brookline,Mass., 2001.
      • Pitarakis, Brigitte, Les croix-reliquaires pectorales byzantines en bronze, Picard, París, 2006.
      • Rodley, Lyn, Byzantine Art and Architecture. An Introduction, Cambridge, 1994.
      • Runciman, Steven, Byzantine. Style and Civilization, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1987 (1971).
      • The Glory of Byzantium: Art and Culture in the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843-1261,  Helen C. Evans, William. D. Wixom (eds.),  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997
      • http://www.metmuseum.org/research/metpublications/The_Glory_of_Byzantium_Art_and_Culture_of_the_Middle_Byzantine_Era_AD_843_1261
        • The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, Elizabeth Jeffreys, John Haldon, Robin Cormack (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008.
        • Treasures of Mount Athos, Athanasios A. Karakatsanis,  Salònica, 1997. Wixom (eds.), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1997.
        • Vikan, Gary, Early Byzantine Pilgrimage Art, Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Collection Publications, 3, Washington, DC, 1982 (2010).
        • Vizcaíno Sánchez Jaime, La presencia bizantina en Hispania (siglos VI-VII): la documentación arqueológica, Universidad de Murcia, 2009.
        • Weitzmann, Kurt (ed.), The Icons, London 1982 (1990).




Coptic and Armenian art


  • Armenia sacra. Mémoire chrétienne des Arméniens (IVè-XVIIIè siècle), Musée du Louvre, París, 2007
  • Der Nersessian, Sirarpie, L’Art Arménien, Flammarion, Paris, 1989.
  • Gabra, Gawdat, Eaton-Krauss, Marianne, The Treasures of Coptic Art in the Coptic Museum and Churches of Old Cairo, The American Unversity in Cairo Press, El Cairo-Nueva York, 2005.
  • Interactions. Artistic Interchange between the Eastern and Western Worlds in the Medieval Period, Colum Hourihane (ed.), Index of Christian Art, Penn State University, 2007.


Byzantium and the Latin West








  • Alpatov, Mijai., Tesoros del arte ruso, Barcelona, 1967.
  • Papaioannou, Kostas, Pintura bizantina y rusa, Madrid, 1968.






  • Andrei Roublev, Andreï Tarkovski, 1966.
    • Holy Image. Hallowed Ground. Icons from Sinai, november 14, 2006-March 4, 2007, J. P. Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2006






Arte Medieval I. Alta Edad Media y Bizancio, ed. Joaquin Yarzaet alii, Barcelona, GustavoGili, 1982.

Mango, Cyril, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453: Sources and Documents, University of TorontoPress, 1986.

The Painter Manual of Dionysius of Fourna, ed. P. Hetherigton, Londres, 1981 (1974).







www.doaks.org (Dumbarton Oaks Collection)


www.benaki.gr (Benaki Museum, Athens)


www.culture.gr (Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens)


www.alincom.com/tretiakov (The State Tretyakov, Moscow)




Byzantine Art











Hagia Sophia's church in the byzantine time: https://youtu.be/HQ9KfQBwhIs


Theotokos, apse, Hagia Sophia (Iconoclasm and Iconoluds):

Speakers: Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris. Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.


Hagia Sophia: Masterpiece Deesis Mosaic and the Byzantine Renaissance: https://youtu.be/38asbg1WdA8


Monastery of Saint Catherine of Sinai



Icons from Sinai




Father Justin’s talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJsBqWSRFQ8


Mount Athos:



Panagia Asinou



Coptic Art


Elizabeth Bolman talks on the Red Monastery:








-Churches of Historic Armenia


-Index of Armenian Art: Armenian Architecture


-Index of Armenian Art: Armenian Miniatures


-Saint Gregory of Ani