byzantine art

Just looking at the two images, without the background knowledge, how would you interpret these images? What are they trying to communicate?

  • Iconography: What is the subject matter? Is the subject easily comprehensible, or does it require knowledge of a specific text or religious doctrine? What are the attributes and symbols that are used to express the subject? Is there a narrative, and if so, how is it conveyed? (Gesture, expression, signs, symbols, etc.)
  • Style: How is the subject treated formally? Analyze the composition. Consider elements such as color, light, space, and scale. What is the function of accessory figures, objects, or other elements?
  • Medium: What is the artwork made of? How does that affect the final product? What does the scale of the work tell you?
  • Location and audience: Where might the work have originally been located? What is the significance of this location? Judging from the location, who might have been its intended audience?
  • Patronage: Who funded the creation of this work? What might have been the patron’s concerns or motives? How might that have affected the style, content, medium, or location?
  • Function: What was this work used for? (Stimulate devotion, decorative status, symbol, etc.)? Or what was the intended function/message of the work? What was the social and religious context? Why was this object made at this certain point in history?
  • Artist and date: Who made the artwork? When and where was it made? How does it compare with other works from the same period? Does it reveal particular qualities attributed to the culture of that period?

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