M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Art
Humanism in art; Decoration and ornament; Byzantine
This thesis reflects the study of humanism in the monumental religious decorations of the Mid-Byzantine period (843-1204). Both the style and content of existing works are examined. Besides the monumental works themselves the factors which contributed to and supported the rise of humanism are investigated. A conclusion is reached that an art which is guided by spiritual purposes can indeed mirror humanism. The period between 843 and 1204 was a unique, Golden Age in Byzantine art. Mid-Byzantine art experienced a new era of humanism. The spiritual, emotional and instructional needs of the human were important to the religious decorators of this period. The concept of the image formed during the Iconoclasm and revived classical ideas combined with traditional Byzantine elements to produce monumental church decorations infused with a new spirit of humanism. The monumental art of the Mid-Byzantine period returned to a concern for the human and his relationship with God. Art moved toward a closer communication between the beholder and the sacred person or event. Byzantine art was more than mere church decoration; it was a focal point for the religious experience. The reemergence of classical concepts helped present the mysteries of Christianity in a comprehensible and ordered fashion. The increased interest in expression at this time brought the divine subjects into a closer, emotional contact with the observer. In general, Mid-Byzantine monumental decoration answered the essential requirements of mankind in the representation of itsreligious ideas. It is the exploration of the reincorporation of classical ideas and the revival of humanistic sentiment which forms the main concern of this study. It in these elements and their adoption into the Christian tradition that the roots of Byzantine humanism are found. The Byzantine artist humanized his images. He gave them feeling and expression without diminishing their power. Humanism did not take the form of the inclusion of the common man in sacred scenes but rather emphasized the universally understood aspects of the sacred incidents. Mid-Byzantine monumental religious art did not merely reproduce the classical art of the past but rather infused the classical ideals with Byzantine spirituality. In Byzantine humanism, mankind, as sensitive and intelligent beings, was accorded respect as the masterpiece of God’s creation.
Culver, Joanne P., "Humanism in mid-Byzantine monumental decoration" (1974). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 3421.
iv, 168 pages, 27 unnumbered pages
Northern Illinois University
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