Nectar and Illusion: Nature in Byzantine Art and Literature
Nature and Illusion is the first extended treament of the portrayal of nature in Byzantine art and literature. In this richly illustrated study, Henry Maguire shows how the Byzantines embraced terrestrial creation in the decoration of their churches during the fifth to seventh centuries but then adopted a much more cautious attitude toward the depiction of animals and plants in the middle ages, after the iconoclastic dispute of the eighth and ninth centuries. In the medieval period, the art of Byzantine churches became more anthropocentric and less accepting of natural images. The danger that the latter might be put to idolatrous use created a constant state of tension between worldliness, represented by nature, and otherworldliness, represented by the portrait icons of the saints. The book discusses the role of iconoclasm in affecting this fundamental change in Byzantine art, as both sides in the controversy accused the other of "worshipping the creature rather than the Creator." An important theme is the asymmetrical relationship between Byzantine art and literature with respect to the portrayal of nature. A series of vivid texts described seasons, landscapes, gardens, and animals, but these were more sparingly illustrated in medieval art. Maguire concludes by discussing the abstraction of nature in the form of marble floors and revetments and with a consideration of the role of architectural backgrounds in medieval Byzantine art. Throughout Nature and Illusion, medieval Byzantine art is compared with that of Western Europe, where different conceptions of religious imagery allowed a closer engagement with nature.
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Akathistos animals Annunciation apse architectural Basilica birds Byzantine art Byzantine churches Byzantine Empire Byzantium Christ Christian Church of St Collections and Fieldwork colored Constantine Manasses Constantinople Copyright Dumbarton Oaks creation Credit author decoration depicted described early Byzantine earth earthly ekphraseis Evangelists example ﬁeld Fieldwork Archives ﬁg ﬁgure ﬁnd ﬁrst ﬂanked ﬂoor mosaic ﬂowers ﬂowing fresco fruits garden gold Gregory of Nazianzus Hagia Hagia Sophia heaven Holy Homilies of James iconoclasts identiﬁed imagery Istanbul James of Kokkinobaphos John Kariye Camii Lagoudera Lynkestis Madaba Maguire Mango marble medieval Byzantine metaphors Migne miniature Monastery motifs Mount Sinai narthex nature nature-derived Nile opus sectile pagan painting Panaghia tou Arakos Panagia panel Patrologia Graeca pavement peacock personiﬁcations plants plate portrayals portrayed posticonoclastic Ravenna rhetoric rivers of paradise sacred saints San Vitale sanctuary scenes sermon signiﬁcance sixth-century spiritual symbolism terrestrial world Thessaloniki translation trees twelfth century Vatican Library vault vine Virgin wall mosaic Winﬁeld