For more than a thousand years, until its fall in 1453, the Byzantine Empire, the Christian successor to the Roman Empire in the eastern Mediterranean, stretched across large areas of Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Under successive emperors, the artists, architects and craftsmen of Byzantium (Constantinople, modern Istanbul) worked within a long-established tradition to produce superb buildings and art works of great expressive power. Churches were planned around a central, domed space, and their walls were covered in mosaics showing mysterious, stylized figures set against a shimmering gold background. Subsequent centuries tended to view Byzantine art as stagnant and corrupt, and the style was all but forgotten. From the beginning of the nineteenth century, however, the Eastern city once more began to inspire artists, architects and writers to produce not only palaces and churches, but also paintings, jewellery, interiors and art criticism. Byzantium was revitalized as a new source of inspiration, free from the associations of the other, ubiquitous styles of the nineteenth century: the Gothic and the Classical. Professor Bullen’s original and pioneering interdisciplinary study presents the first coherent account of the varied manifestations of the revival of Byzantinism in Germany, Austria, France, Britain and America. The book is richly illustrated not only with original Byzantine models and the works that they inspired, but also with reproductions from the finely illustrated publications that played an important role in their own right by promoting Byzantium as an ideal. Covering the themes of politics, religion and literature as well as the arts, this book serves as an exemplary study in cultural history, providing real insight into the interplay of ideas and forms, in addition to being a fascinating account of an influential but little-known artistic movement.
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