By Charles Bayet

For greater than a millennium, from its production in 330 A.D. until eventually its fall in 1453, the Byzantine Empire used to be a cradle of inventive effervescence that we're simply starting to rediscover. Endowed with the wealthy historical past of Roman, japanese and Christian cultures, Byzantine artists built an architectural and pictorial culture, marked via symbolism, whose impression prolonged some distance past the borders of the Empire. this present day, Italy, Northern Africa, and the close to East defend the vestiges of this refined inventive culture, with all of its mystical and luminous attractiveness. The beauty of the palaces, church buildings, work, enamels, ceramics and mosaics from this civilisation promises Byzantine art's strong effect and timelessness.

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44 The subjects treated in manuscripts are numerous: many belong to the Old Testament, some to the history of Christianity, such as the Lapidation of St. Peter and the Conversion of St. Paul. At the end of the manuscript is placed a large and beautiful illumination that occupies an entire page; at the top, two medallions contain images of Saints Anne and Simeon; beneath, Christ, the Virgin, St. John the Baptist, the great priest Zacharias, and St. Elizabeth are arranged beside each other. The posture of the characters, the religious serenity on their faces, the gold that gleams behind their halos and on their clothing all combine to give this painting an arresting appearance.

Nevertheless, his descriptions clearly show the spirit that presided over the order and composition of these paintings; nowhere near all the subjects of the Gospel were addressed, but those present were divided into three chronological series: childhood scenes, miracles, and the Passion. Thus was the development of the system of decoration whose origins have been indicated. Bust portrait of Eutropius, late fifth century. Marble, height: 32 cm. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. qxp 11/6/2008 4:44 PM Page 53 Christ Restoring the Law, fourth or fifth century.

Panel of a Diptych of the Consul Areobindus, 506. Ivory, 39 x 13 cm. Musée National du Moyen Age Thermes et Hôtel de Cluny, Paris. 62 The vase from Emesa dates, for all practical purposes, from the beginning of the seventh century. It was fashioned from a sheet of hammered silver. A band encircling the vase depicts eight characters from the Gospels: Christ between two apostles, the Virgin between two angels, and St. Peter and St. Paul. [See p. qxp 11/6/2008 8:56 AM Page 63 Vase from Emesa, late sixth to early seventh century.

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