Art

Hosios Loukas

The church complex of St. Loukas – Hosios Loukas – in Phokis is the largest and also the best preserved 11th-century monastery complex in Greece and a monument on the UNESCO Worldwide Heritage List. It lies on the slopes of Mount Helikon, opposite Parnassos.

Mosaic Decoration – Hosios Loukas.The basic source of information for Hosios Loukas and his monastery is the Life composed by an anonymous disciple a few years after his death. According to this, the saint was a monk in the region of Central Greece. In 946/7 he settled on the present site of the monastery, where he founded an informal monastic community and lived until his death at the age of 56, in 953. His great talents were his miraculous ability to heal the faithful and his capacity to prophesy the future – skills that were conducive to his having close relationships with outstanding figures in the aristocracy of Thebes. General Krinites founded a church in the name of Saint Barbara in 946, during the lifetime of the saint. Continue reading Hosios Loukas

The Byzantine Icon

– A Window to the Soul

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” – the opening words of Scripture. In many of the prayers of the Christian Church, including the Nicene Creed, God is designated as the Creator of the visible and the invisible. This polarity – heaven and earth, visible and invisible, body and soul, matter and spirit – is a basic duality that is central to the Christian faith. The visible body, anchored on earth in matter, longs for liberation to attain the invisible heaven and the realm of the spirit.

Pantocrator Icon, Greek, Temple Gallery, London.
Pantocrator Icon, Greek, Temple Gallery, London.

Continue reading The Byzantine Icon

The Art of the Book in the Middle Ages

Before the invention of mechanical printing, books were handmade objects, treasured as works of art and as symbols of enduring knowledge. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, the book becomes an attribute of God.

Book cover with Byzantine Icon of the Crucifixion. Spain (setting) and Constantinople (icon), dated to before 1085. Courtesy www.metmuseum.org.
Book cover with Byzantine Icon of the Crucifixion. Spain (setting) and Constantinople (icon), dated to before 1085. Courtesy www.metmuseum.org.

Every stage in the creation of a medieval book required intensive labor, sometimes involving the collaboration of entire workshops. Parchment for the pages had to be made from the dried hides of animals, cut to size and sewn into quires; inks had to be mixed, pens prepared, and the pages ruled for lettering. A scribe copied the text from an established edition, and artists might then embellish it with illustrations, decorated initials, and ornament in the margins. The most lavish medieval books were bound in covers set with enamels, jewels, and ivory carvings. Continue reading The Art of the Book in the Middle Ages

El Greco

El Greco – Domenikos Theotokopoulos – (1541-1614) is one of the few old master painters who enjoys widespread popularity. Like Vermeer, Piero della Francesca, and Botticelli, he was rescued from obscurity by an avid group of nineteenth-century collectors, critics, and artists and became one of the select members of the modern pantheon of great painters. For Picasso, as for so many later admirers, El Greco was both the quintessential Spaniard and a proto-modern—a painter of the spirit. It was as a painter who “felt the mystical inner construction” of life that El Greco was admired by Franz Marc and the members of the Blue Rider school: someone whose art stood as a rejection of the materialist culture of modern life. Continue reading El Greco

Theodoros Vryzakis

Theodoros Vryzakis was born in 1814 in Thebes. During the Greek War of Independence (1821-1832), initiated by the Philike Etairia – a secret committee of prominent Greeks in Odessa – Vryzakis’ father was hanged by the Turks. As a result of losing his father, young Theodoros grew up in an orphanage established by Capodistrias in Aegina, an island not far from Athens and the location of the first official capital of the newly formed Greek state. Continue reading Theodoros Vryzakis