Byzantine art c. 330 – 1453

To speak of “Byzantine Art” is a bit problematic, since the Byzantine empire and its art spanned more than a millennium and penetrated geographic regions far from its capital in Constantinople. Thus, Byzantine art includes work created from the fourth century to the fifteenth century and encompassing parts of the Italian peninsula, the eastern edge of the Slavic world, the Middle East, and North Africa. So what is Byzantine art, and what do we mean when we use this term?








The Hagia Sophia as a mosque
After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, the sultan repurposed this church, adding slender “pencil” minarets.

Hagia Sophia as a mosque






Byzantine panel with archangel, ivory leaf from diptych (detail)
His body swells beneath the cloth, but his feet hardly touch the ground. This awkward angel is part pagan, part Christian.

Ivory Panel with Archangel



David Composing the Psalms, from the Paris Psalter, c. 900 C.E. 14-1/8 x 10-1/4" / 36 x 26 cm (Bibliothèque nationale de France) detail
Large and lavish, the images in this manuscript revived the classical style for medieval church use.

The Paris Psalter




Hagia Sophia
The golden dome of this vast building appears suspended from heaven. It has withstood quakes, conquest, and crusades.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul