Byzantine-Style Mosaic Necklace with Christ and Twelve Apostles

Unidentified Artist from Murano, Venice? 
Byzantine-Style Mosaic Necklace with Christ and Twelve Apostles, the 1870s-1910s, gold with glass and shell inlay, Smithsonian American Art Museum, USA
https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/byzantine-style-mosaic-necklace-christ-and-twelve-apostles-30961

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano(October 8, 2021 – May 8, 2022, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC, USA) brings to life the Venetian glass revival of the late nineteenth century and the artistic experimentation the city inspired for visiting artists. It is the first comprehensive examination of American tourism, artmaking, and art collecting in Venice, revealing the glass furnaces and their new creative boom as a vibrant facet of the city’s allure… write the Smithsonian American Art Museum experts, and I was “hooked” to virtually explore this amazing Exhibition. I was particularly intrigued by the reference to the Magic of Murano, and the age-old Venetian industry of glassmaking. Exploring the artworks exhibited, I came upon a Byzantine-Style Mosaic Necklace with Christ and Twelve Apostles in the Smithsonian Collection, and I was determined to learn more about it! Well, I learned more… and less… https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/sargent-whistler-glass and https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.saam.media/files/documents/2021-09/SWAVG%20checklist_FINAL.pdf

Exhibition Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano Installation Photography, Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2021, Photo Credit: Albert Ting https://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/sargent-whistler-glass

Back in 1929, the Byzantine-Style Necklace was part of an impressive donation to the Smithsonian’s “National Gallery of Art” (now SAAM), by the art collector John Gellatly. Originally, it was thought to be a piece of 6th century Byzantine Jewelry, but contemporary conservators believe it’s more likely a nineteenth-century imitation or forgery.  

The necklace consists of 15 medallions presenting Christ in the middle (the biggest in size), the Twelve Apostles (receding, slightly, in size, six on either side of Christ), and medallions with Constantine’s Cross (the smallest two of the fifteen), at the two ends of the necklace. The necklace medallions are connected with gold chains of hollow wire! The rims of each medallion are decorated with hundreds of small gold balls, applied in a technique called granulation… a technique invented in the ancient world… declined in popularity after the first century BC, and was revived by the Castellani jewelry firm in the mid-19th century. Could the use of granulation make scholars begin to question the necklace’s Byzantine attribution?

Unidentified Artist from Murano, Venice? 
Byzantine-Style Mosaic Necklace with Christ and Twelve Apostles (detail), the 1870s-1910s, gold with glass and shell inlay, Smithsonian American Art Museum, USA
https://americanart.si.edu/artwork/byzantine-style-mosaic-necklace-christ-and-twelve-apostles-30961

Apparently, the conservator’s examination brought up more questions than answers, and as the Pietre Dure technique was popular in Florence, they jokingly question if the Smithsonian necklace was created by an itinerant nineteenth-century Florentine Pietre Dure stone craftsperson who moved to Venice to restore the San Marco mosaics and was commissioned by a wealthy patron to make a Byzantine-style necklace… One can only wonder!

Unidentified Artist from Murano, Venice? 
Byzantine-Style Mosaic Necklace with Christ and Twelve Apostles (Detail), the 1870s-1910s, gold with glass and shell inlay, Smithsonian American Art Museum, USA
https://americanart.si.edu/blog/byzantine-art-mystery

Information on my presentation of the Necklace comes from the December 8, 2021article The Mystery Around a Byzantine-style Necklace – When SAAM’s “Art Doctors” Become Art Detectives by Ariel O’Connor and Sarah Montonchaikul… https://americanart.si.edu/blog/byzantine-art-mystery

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Church of the Parigoritissa in Arta

Church of the Parigoritissa in Arta, 1294-1296, Arta, Greece
https://efaart.gr/portfolio/panagia-parigoritisa/

According to a popular Epirote legend… the anonymous “πρωτομάστορας” (master architect), commissioned to build the Church of the Parigoritissa in Arta was accomplished, famous, and much in demand! Hired to design plans for another church, while still working in Arta, the “πρωτομάστορας” was obliged to travel away, leaving his assistant in charge. The assistant, anonymous as well, was young, ambitious, innovative, and highly creative. He decided to change the original plans… implement a novel architectural proposal, and, in the process, created an original Church design we still admire today! Upon his return, the “πρωτομάστορας” was stunned, envious and… vengeful! He wanted revenge and he planned carefully… He tricked his unsuspecting assistant into climbing to the roof under the pretext that he was going to show him a mistake he made and then… the plan was, to push him over. But the plan did not materialize as wished! As the young assistant was falling, he grabbed the master-builder dragging him along to their death. The mother of the young assistant was devastated… but one night the Virgin Mary appeared to her dream and “την παρηγόρησε,” consoled her for her unjust loss. Mary’s consolation was considered a miracle and thus… the Church in Arta was called “Παναγία η Παρηγορήτισσα,” the Church of the Virgin Mary of Consolation. https://www.mixanitouxronou.gr/o-thrilos-tou-protomastora-pou-zilepse-to-epitevgma-tou-voithou-tou-ke-ton-dolofonise-panagia-i-parigoritissa-i-vizantini-ekklisia-tis-artas-me-ton-protoporiako-troulo-pou-eorite/

Ιn Arta the Parigoritissa Church is considered the city’s Αρχόντισσα… most Aristocratic edifice! Built on the western slope of Peranthis hill, the church is associated with the Komnenos Doukas ruling family of the Despotate of Epiros. Archaeologists discern 2 construction phases. The older 1st phase dates to the middle of the 13th century and is associated with Michael II Komnenos Doukas (1230 until his death in 1266/68 ruler of the Despotate of Epirus) and his wife Theodora Petraliphaina (canonized as Saint Theodora of Arta, ca. 1225 – after 1270). Recent archaeological discoveries show that large parts of its original masonry were preserved to a sufficient height and incorporated via various modifications for the construction of the church’s 2nd phase which materialized under the sponsorship of Nikiphoros I Komnenos Doukas (c. 1240-1297) and his wife Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene (d. 1313). On the western wall of the main church, over the entrance, an inscription verifies the fact that the Parogoritissa church was founded in the period 1294-1296 by the despot of Epirus Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas, his wife Anna Palaiologina Kantakouzene, and their son Thomas. The aspiration of the princely couple was to create a Metropolitan Church worthy of a Byzantine Capital, impressive and original in design, luxurious and imposing on its exterior and interior decoration!  http://www.peartas.gov.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:2011-06-15-08-30-45&catid=23:2011-06-10-06-28-51&Itemid=26

Thomas Smart Hughes, Travels in Sicily Greece, and Albania… Illustrated with engravings of maps scenery plans &c., vol. Ι, London, J. Mawman, 1820, Collection: Hellenic Library – Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation
https://eng.travelogues.gr/item.php?view=44972

The church of Parigoritissa was dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and was formerly the Katholikon of a large Monastery, of which 16 cells and the Refectory are also preserved. It is one monumental, voluminous, cubic in essence (has dimensions of 20,30×22 m) building, which external masonry and design “elusively” resemble the Italian mansions of the Early Renaissance period. The exterior façade of the church is divided into three zones: The lowest one is irregularly built and unadorned because until 1865 it was covered by a portico, as evidenced by the existence of 12 pilasters on the three sides of the temple to support its roof. The two upper zones of the church are meticulously built according to the isodomic “cloisonne” system, adorned with a large number of double (dilova) windows with a colonnette in between, and further embellished with elaborate brick decorations. The Parigoritissa like many other churches in Arta, uses bricks and clay tiles in a variety of colours and designs, to decorate their walls with designs like meanders, concentric rhombuses, and toothed strips to name just a few. Finally, the church is crowned by five domes, from which the central one is larger and taller. Among the two western domes, there is a smaller, open dome, which gives the impression of a ciborium. http://www.peartas.gov.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66:2011-06-15-08-30-45&catid=23:2011-06-10-06-28-51&Itemid=26 and https://issuu.com/efaartas/docs/parigotitissa_arta_fylladio_32sel

Church of the Parigoritissa in Arta (Keramoplastika), 1294-1296, Arta, Greece
https://www.greekgastronomyguide.gr/ena-24oro-stin-arta/

For an interesting 3D Video on the Byzantine city of Arta and its Monuments created by the Greek Ephorate of Antiquities of Art, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vZ6fVBDzj0

For interesting Photographs, go to… https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/parigoritissa

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

My thoughts on the interior architectural plan and decoration of the Parigoritissa Church will be presented in another BLOG POST…

Visiting the Parogoritissa with my students…
Photo Credit: Kostas Papantoniou

The astonishing Tapestry of Dionysus at Abegg-Stiftung

Dionysos and his entourage standing underneath arcades lavishly decked out in climbing foliage and braided ornaments, Egypt, 4th century, wool tapestry on a linen ground, h. 210 cm, w. ca. 700 cm, Abegg-Stiftung, Canton Bern , Switzerland
https://twitter.com/Pythika/status/1141411261286146048/photo/1
https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/
https://twitter.com/caitlinrgreen/status/616963854870970368?lang=el

[1] I begin to sing of ivy-crowned Dionysus, the loud-crying god, splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele. The rich-haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father and fostered and nurtured him carefully [5] in the dells of Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet-smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals. But when the goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel. And the Nymphs followed in his train [10] with him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with their outcry.    /    And so hail to you, Dionysus, god of abundant clusters! Grant that we may come again rejoicing to this season, and from that season onwards for many a year. The Homeric Hymns 26 on Dionysus is, I believe, a wonderful introduction to The astonishing Tapestry of Dionysus at Abegg-Stiftung, my new BLOG POST… Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Homeric Hymns. Cambridge, MA, 1914, Harvard University Press, https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0138%3Ahymn%3D26

Regretfully, I never visited the Abegg-Stiftung, this amazing “cultural” center where the collection, conservation and study of historical textiles take place. Abegg-Stiftung is based just outside the village of Riggisberg in the foothills of the Bernese Alps, which is where the museum of textiles and applied art, the research library and the Villa Abegg, the Abeggs’ former home that is now a museum, are situated. The studio for textile conservation and restoration is also a training centre for budding young conservators. The Abegg-Stiftung publishes books and papers in which it shares its research findings with fellow historians and conservators as well as a lay readership. Year after year, its annual exhibitions shed new light on a material that has served humanity for thousands of years, whether made up into objects of everyday use or in the form of exquisite works of art. What an amazing place to visit and learn! https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/

Dionysus and his entourage standing underneath arcades lavishly decked out in climbing foliage and braided ornaments (Museum Room View), Egypt, 4th century, wool tapestry on a linen ground, h. 210 cm, w. ca. 700 cm, Abegg-Stiftung, Canton Bern , Switzerland
file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/ulfl202121_tm_Anexo%20(4).pdf

Among their rich collection of textiles from Late Antiquity, the visitor is astounded by grand and small examples showing figures from Graeco-Roman mythology and scenes from the Old Testament. What really fascinates me is the “Dionysus Hanging,” a monumental tapestry originally that served as a wall hanging in a Roman private home or cult building. The tapestry’s programme shows Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ecstasy, and his entourage standing underneath arcades lavishly decked out in climbing foliage and braided ornaments. The cult of Dionysos was widespread in Late Antiquity. It promised its adherents life after death and was an articulation of the desire for a life of happiness and superfluity. https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/collection/late-antiquity/

Dionysos and his entourage standing underneath arcades lavishly decked out in climbing foliage and braided ornaments (Detail), Egypt, 4th century, wool tapestry on a linen ground, h. 210 cm, w. ca. 700 cm, Abegg-Stiftung, Canton Bern , Switzerland
https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/

An Abegg-Stiftung much-appreciated traditionis its dedication in publishing books and papers in which their experts share their research findings with fellow historians and conservators as well as a lay readership. Among the Museum’s rich List of Publications (for German readers) is a book titled Der Dionysosbehang der Abegg-Stiftung by Dietrich Willers und Bettina Niekamp, Riggisberger Berichte 20 | 272 S., 200 Abb., 32 Tafeln, 1 Falttafel, brosch., 23 x 31 cm, 2015, ISBN 978-3-905014-53-2 https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/publication-category/riggisberger-berichte-en/

I was able to download Dietrich Willers’s Zur Begegnung von Heidentum und Christentum im spätantiken Ägypten – Der Dionysosbehang der AbeggStiftung (Schweiz) and read in Google translation… http://kgkw.de/Vortrags-Skripte/Willers/KGKW%20Willers.pdf  

Preparing for this BLOG POST I reread pp. 35-38 of Textiles of Late Antiquity, a 1995 Metropolitan Museum of Art Publication, and Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt, an Exhibition Catalogue of 2020, organized by the George Washington University Museum, The Textile Museum, and Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. https://museum.gwu.edu/woven-interiors-furnishing-early-medieval-egypt  

For a Student Activity on The astonishing Tapestry of Dionysus at Abegg-Stiftung, please… Check HERE!

Dionysos and his entourage standing underneath arcades lavishly decked out in climbing foliage and braided ornaments (Detail), Egypt, 4th century, wool tapestry on a linen ground, h. 210 cm, w. ca. 700 cm, Abegg-Stiftung, Canton Bern , Switzerland
https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/

Theotokos ton Blachernon in Constantinople

The Ride of Emperor Theophilos to the Church of Theotokos ton Blachernon
Madrid Skylitzes Illuminated Manuscript, 12th to the 13th centuries, Manuscript on Parchment, 36 x 27 cm, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Spain
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Emperor_Theophilus_visits_St_Mary_of_Blachernae.jpg

According to John Skylitzes, the 11th-century historian, the Byzantine Emperor Theophilos (r. 829–42)… ἀπῄειἑκάστης ἑβδομάδος ἔφιππος διὰ τῆς λεωφόρου ἐπὶ τὸν ἐν Βλαχέρναις τῆς θεομήτορος θεῖον ναόν, ὑπὸ τῶν δορυφόρων παραπεμπόμενος… each week would ride out on horseback together with his bodyguard along the thoroughfare leading to the sacred Church Theotokos ton Blachernon in Constantinople… the most important Pilgrimage Complex in the Βασιλεύουσα dedicated to the Mother of God. https://byzantium.gr/keimena/skylitzes.php and https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/abs/john-skylitzes-a-synopsis-of-byzantine-history-8111057/michael-iii-the-son-of-theophilos-842867-and-his-mother-theodora-842862/CF57964EF1A48FA4EBDD26D8CF54FE3E

Blachernae Palace Area, Constantinople
1. Basilica Church of Theotokos ton Blachernon, 2. Hagia Soros Chapel, 3. Danubios Hall, 4. Okeanos Hall, 5. Anastasiakos Hall, named after Emperor Anastasius I (r. 491–518) who built it, 6.Alexiakos Hall, 7. So-called Anemas Dungeons, 8. Palace bath recently found, 9. Palace of Manuel Comnenus, 10. Chapel, 11.Palace of Empress Bertha, 12.Tower of Isaac Angelus
http://www.byzantium1200.com/blachernae.html

At the breezy and woody suburb of Blachernai, on the shores of Golden Horn, just outside the Theodosian city walls, the Byzantine Pilgrimage Complex of Blachernae comprised of the Basilica Church of Theotokos ton Blacernon, the Hagia Soros Chapel, where the Maphorion (the holy veil) of the Virgin was kept, and the Lousma, an Edifice built over a natural spring of mineral water, which was used for Baths, to which healing qualities were attributed at some point by the 5th century. It is traditionally believed that Pulcheria and Emperor Maurice were the founders of the Vlachernai complex, but according to Procopius and recent research (C. Mango), the theory that the Basilica Church was erected by Emperor Justin I (518-527) was brought forward. http://constantinople.ehw.gr/forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11778 

Procopius in his De Aedificiis, I.3.3-5, describes the Basilica Church as…  τὸν μὲν οὖν ἕνα τῆς θεοτόκου νεὼν ᾠκοδομήσατο πρὸ τοῦ περιβόλου ἐν χώρῳ καλουμένῳ Βλαχέρναις· αὐτῷ γὰρ λογιστέον καὶ τὰ Ἰουστίνῳ εἰργασμένα τῷ θείῳ, ἐπεὶ καὶ αὐτοῦ τὴν βασιλείαν κατ’ ἐξουσίαν αὐτὸς διῳκεῖτο, ἐπιθαλάσσιος δὲ ὁ νεώς ἐστιν, ἱερώτατός τε καὶ σεμνὸς ἄγαν, ἐπιμήκης μέν, κατὰ λόγον δὲ περιβεβλημένος τῷ μήκει τὸ εὖρος, τά τε ἄνω καὶ τὰ κάτω ἄλλῳ οὐδενὶ ἀνεχόμενος ὅτι μὴ τμήμασι λίθου Παρίου ἐν κιόνων λόγῳ ἐνταῦθα ἑστῶσι… (This church is on the sea, a most holy and very stately church, of unusual length and yet of a breadth well proportioned to its length, both its upper and its lower parts being supported by nothing but sections of Parian stone which stand there to serve as columns. And in all the other parts of the church these columns are set in straight lines, except at the centre, where they recede. Anyone upon entering this church would marvel particularly at the greatness of the mass which is held in place without instability, and at the magnificence which is free from bad taste.) https://archive.org/details/procopius00proc_0/page/38/mode/2up pages 38-41

The Basilica Church of Theotokos ton Blacernon, still outside the city walls in 626, at the time of the Avar siege, was spared destruction, because of a miraculous intervention of the Theotokos who spared her own church as a sign of her power and grace. During the following centuries, the Virgin Vlachernitissa came to be considered as the city’s divine protector par excellence. George Pisides, the 7th-century poet describes Blachernae beautifully… If you seek the dread throne of God on the earth, marvel as you look at the house of the Virgin; for she who carries God in her arms carries him to the majesty of this place. Here those appointed to rule the earth believe that their scepters are made victorious; here the vigilant patriarch averts many catastrophes in the world. The barbarians, attacking the city, on seeing her alone at the head of the army, at once bent their unbending necks.’ http://constantinople.ehw.gr/forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11778  and https://figshare.com/articles/online_resource/E00568_Two_Greek_epigrams_by_George_Pisides_in_the_shrine_of_the_Blachernae_at_Constantinople_celebrating_the_miraculous_raising_of_the_626_siege_of_Constantinople_with_the_help_of_Mary_Mother_of_Christ_S00033_Recorded_in_the_10th_c_Greek_A/13800251/1

Unfortunately, the church was entirely destroyed by a fire in 1070, rebuilt by 1077, and destroyed once more by fire, in 1434 when the damaged portico of the Church was hit by lightning in a great storm. The fire was seen all over the city and was one of the last great disasters to strike Christian Constantinople… a huge blow to the morale of the city and the Imperial family who could not afford to spend money on reconstructions, but on cleaning and repairing the City Moat and Walls. http://constantinople.ehw.gr/forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11778  and https://www.pallasweb.com/deesis/church-of-mary-of-the-blachernae.html 

The existing Church of Theotokos ton Blachernon is dated to the mid-19th century. The istorikon of the modern Church starts in 1867 when the guild of Orthodox Greek furriers bought land in Istanbul, including the lot with the Hagiasma/Holy Water Shrine of the original Blachernae Complex. A hundred and fifty years later, with the care of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, a small Church was “rebuilt” on the site of what was once the most important pilgrimage shrine of Theotokos at Constantinople… the site where the “Akathistos Hymnos” was first sung… http://constantinople.ehw.gr/forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=11778

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

Apolausis the personification of Enjoyment

Floor Mosaic with Bust of Apolausis/Enjoyment (Baths of Apolausis, Pool Room West of the Frigidarium), late 4th century-early 5th century, Mosaic on Mortar, 98×266 cm, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, USA
http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info?query=Portfolios%20%3D%20%222606%22&sort=0&page=2

I have always said and felt that true enjoyment can not be described… said Jean Jacques Rousseau… but at the vestibule of the Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Enjoyment has a face… the Floor Mosaic with Apolausis the personification of Enjoyment welcomes visitors since its doors opened to the public in 1941and I can not think of a better way to welcome you to the New Year!  May 2022 be a Year of pure Enjoyment! https://www.stresslesscountry.com/enjoyment-quotes/

Floor Mosaic with Bust of Apolausis/Enjoyment (Baths of Apolausis, Pool Room West of the Frigidarium), late 4th century-early 5th century, Mosaic on Mortar, 98×266 cm, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, USA
http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info?query=Portfolios%20%3D%20%222606%22&sort=0&page=2

Antioch on the Orontes, the modern-day city of Antakya in Turkey, was founded near the end of the fourth century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great’s generals and successors to his Empire. It flourished and prospered, rivaling even the city of Alexandria in Egypt, as the capital of the Seleucid Empire until 63 BC, when the Romans took control in Syria. Called the cradle of Christianity, Antioch, a great military, and economic metropolis with a population of about 250,000 people became the hub of both Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity. The city’s decline started during the Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628 and continued during the Umayyad period as Antioch found itself on the frontline of the conflicts between two hostile empires, the Byzantine,  and the rising realm of the Arabs. In 1268 the Baibars (Mamluks of Egypt),  besieged Antioch, capturing the city on May 18, marking, thus, the end of its history. https://vrc.princeton.edu/archives/collections/show/7 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioch

Between 1932 and 1939, archaeological excavations of Antioch, its wealthy suburb Daphne, and the port city of Seleucia Pieria, were undertaken under the direction of the “Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity”, which was made up of representatives from Princeton University, the National Museums of France, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Worcester Art Museum, and later (1936),  Mr. and Mrs. Bliss, founders of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Archaeologists unearthed magnificent public and private buildings, and …over three hundred mosaic pavements. The Syrian Government agreed that in return for their contributions, the institutions and the donors to the excavation project would receive archaeological finds like the Apolausis Floor Mosaic. https://vrc.princeton.edu/archives/collections/show/7 and https://www.getty.edu/publications/romanmosaics/catalogue/excavations-antioch/ and http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info?query=Portfolios%20%3D%20%222606%22&sort=0&page=2

Excavation Photo showing the Mosaic of Apolausis, Bath of Apolausis – Pool Room West of the Frigidarium, Antioch, Syria, 1938 Antioch Expedition Archives, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University No. 4082
Plan of the Bath of Apolausis, based on an original excavation drawing (Stillwell, 1941, plan 5)
https://www.getty.edu/publications/romanmosaics/catalogue/excavations-antioch/#&gid=1&pid=4
https://www.getty.edu/publications/romanmosaics/catalogue/excavations-antioch/#&gid=1&pid=2

The Bath of Apolausis, a small public building that originally served an agricultural complex or group of country villas on the eastern side of the plain of Antioch, at the foot of Mount Silpios was richly decorated with floor mosaics and wall frescoes. Today, the mosaics discovered in this small Bath-House are shared between the Getty Museum (Mosaic Floor with Animals), the Hatay Museum (Sotiria/Salvation Floor Mosaic), and the Dumbarton Oaks (Apolausis/Enjoyment Floor Mosaic). https://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/103452/unknown-maker-panel-from-a-mosaic-floor-from-antioch-central-panel-part-of-70ah96-roman-syrian-about-ad-400/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spir8xGciQo and http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info?query=Portfolios%20%3D%20%222606%22&sort=0&page=2

Floor Mosaic with Bust of Apolausis/Enjoyment (Baths of Apolausis, Pool Room West of the Frigidarium), late 4th century-early 5th century, Mosaic on Mortar, 98×266 cm, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, USA
http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info?query=Portfolios%20%3D%20%222606%22&sort=0&page=2

The personification of Apolausis/Enjoyment, after which the bath was named, decorated the bottom of a large pool with an apsidal end accessed through a doorway on the west side of the octagonal Hall/Frigidarium. As Dr. Will Wootton noted during a 2016 lecture… water would have run over the surface of the Apolausis floor Mosaic… showing that the water was so clear and pure that you could see the mosaic perfectly beneath it. http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info?query=Portfolios%20%3D%20%222606%22&sort=0&page=2 and https://www.doaks.org/newsletter/how-mosaics-were-made-and-made-known

To Celebrate the New Year with your Kindergarten – Early Elementary School students… do a HAND-FAN Activity. Create simple, paper HAND-FANS and decorate them with Synonyms to ENJOYMENT! Add a beautiful coloured ribbon and… Voila!!!

For the Student Activity Worksheet, please Check HERE!

To see the Princeton Antioch Catalogued Photographs on the 1938 Apolausis Bath Excavations and finds, go to… http://vrc.princeton.edu/researchphotographs/s/antioch/item?fulltext_search=Apolausis+Bath&property%5B0%5D%5Bjoiner%5D=and&property%5B0%5D%5Bproperty%5D=&property%5B0%5D%5Btype%5D=eq&property%5B0%5D%5Btext%5D=&resource_class_id%5B%5D=&item_set_id%5B%5D=5&resource_template_id%5B%5D=2&resource_template_id%5B%5D=4&resource_template_id%5B%5D=5&resource_template_id%5B%5D=6&resource_template_id%5B%5D=7&resource_template_id%5B%5D=8&resource_template_id%5B%5D=9&resource_template_id%5B%5D=10&resource_template_id%5B%5D=18&resource_template_id%5B%5D=19&resource_template_id%5B%5D=20&resource_template_id%5B%5D=21&resource_template_id%5B%5D=22&submit=Search#?cv=&c=&m=&s=

Santa Maria foris portas at Castelseprio

Nativity, Church of Santa Maria foris portas in Castelseprio, Italy
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Maestro_di_castelseprio%2C_storie_dell%27infanzia_di_cristo%2C_datazione_incerta_tra_l%27830_e_il_950_dc_ca.%2C_15_nativit%C3%A0_1.jpg

I have been fascinated by the Castelseprio frescoes since I was a student, and I was introduced to their unique beauty and… ‘mysteries!’ When I finally visited Castelseprio in 1988, inside this amazing Church, enveloped in their splendor… I was transfixed, spellbound, awe-struck, entranced…  forever. Years passed by, and I yearn to visit Castelseprio once more… stand in the middle of the Church, and experience… moments of the sublime.

Church of Santa Maria foris portas in Castelseprio, Italy
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Santa_Maria_foris_portas2.JPG

When the extraordinary Mariological programme of paintings on the walls of the church of Santa Maria foris portas at Castelseprio was first uncovered, and then quickly made known to the art historical community in an exemplary publication, historians of early medieval art were transfixed. Here was the missing link, the key which would provide the key which would provide the means to unlocking and understanding the role that the classical Byzantine tradition of art, played in the evolution of elite artistic developments in the various theatres of state formations in post-Roman western Europe, from papal Rome to Carolingian Aachen and Northumbrian Lindisfarne, in the early medieval centuries. The artists responsible appeared to be masters of an almost undiluted tradition of Greco-Roman painting, testifying to the enduring existence of a strain of what has been designated by Ernst Kitzinger as ‘perennial Hellenism’, continuing unbroken in one or more centers in the eastern Mediterranean and potentially available to the artist in western Europe, minded to recover some of the elements of ancient classical practice in an age in which overt classical form and subject-matter were valued at a high premium in the rival courts of Europe… write John Mitchell and Beatrice Leal… and I can not think of a better introduction to my Christmas POST on Santa Maria foris portas at Castelseprio Nativity Scene. https://www.academia.edu/13897079/_Co-authored_with_John_Mitchell_Wall_pantings_in_S._Maria_foris_portas_Castelseprio_and_the_tower_at_Torba._Reflections_and_reappraisal._In_Castelseprio_e_Torba_sintesi_delle_ricerche_e_aggiornamenti_ed._Paola_Marina_de_Marchi_2013

Nativity (detail), Church of Santa Maria foris portas in Castelseprio, Italy
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/11/Maestro_di_castelseprio%2C_storie_dell%27infanzia_di_cristo%2C_datazione_incerta_tra_l%27830_e_il_950_dc_ca.%2C_15_nativit%C3%A0_3.jpg

The Church of at Castelseprio is so special and unique, many great scholars of Byzantine Art wrote about it… one way or another, more or less. I am fascinated by the surviving frescoes within the Church, the “ambiance” they create, their “Hellenistic” origin, stylistic characteristics (brushwork, colour, light), and drama in their compositions. I find it irresistible how the unknown “Greek” painter of the time, used diagonal perspective, a three-quarter view of both persons and objects, and a constant search for depth of space, to enhance his brilliant style. In compositions like the Nativity scene, I admire the portrayal of illusionistic forms within a deep, open landscape, and how the master artist used illusionism to enhance and at the same time, transfigure reality. I like… everything!

Merry Christmas

Preparing for this POST (this is the most important part for every BLOG POST of mine)… wondering how “Hellenistic,” in rendering and mood, the Castelseprio frescos are… I reread The Hellenistic Heritage in Byzantine Art, by Ernst Kitzinger, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 17 (1963), pp. 95-115 (37 pages) https://www.jstor.org/stable/1291192?seq=13#metadata_info_tab_contents , and Castelseprio and the Byzantine “Renaissance,” by Charles R. Morey, The Art Bulletin Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep. 1952), pp. 173-201 (37 pages), https://www.jstor.org/stable/3047419?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents  

For a PowerPoint on Castelseprio’s Nativity Scene, please… Check HERE!

Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket

Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket, 4th century, Wool, linen; tapestry weave, H. 64 cm, W. 50 cm, the MET, NY, USA
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/443639?&pkgids=684&exhibitionId=%7bD6F10BA8-6A28-45C2-AD23-4AFE0D41B5EC%7d&oid=443639&ft=*&fe=1

Once more, inspiration comes from the Exhibition The Good Life: Collecting Late Antique Art at The Met (May 24, 20221-May 7, 2023) that showcases the Museum’s important and rare collection of third- to eighth-century art from Egypt and reevaluates it through the lens of late antique ideas about abundance, virtue, and shared classical taste. Writers and craftspeople translated these ideas into a concept celebrated as “the good life.” A Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket helped me explore the idea of The Good Life… how it is connected to social status, wealth, and living well in Late antiquity, and how it reflects the extraordinary values and lifestyle of the upper classes in the world of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2021/good-life-collecting-late-antique-art and https://www.teachercurator.com/uncategorized/portrait-medallion-of-gennadios/

Searching for information on Early Christian Textiles, I came across two short books  I would like to share… and acting more like a Curator rather than a Teacher, I present you Textiles of Late Antiquity, a 1995 Metropolitan Museum of Art Publication, and Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt, an Exhibition Catalogue of 2020, organized by the George Washington University Museum, The Textile Museum, and Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.  https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Textiles_of_Late_Antiquity and https://museum.gwu.edu/woven-interiors-furnishing-early-medieval-egypt

I like how the 2020 Exhibition, Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt, introduces the role intricate textiles played… during the early medieval era, when the eastern Mediterranean’s palaces, villas, and sacred spaces were richly decorated with hangings, curtains, and other luxury fabrics. These beautiful and rare examples of artworks dating from the 4th to the 10th centuries, demonstrate for us today, how textiles defined spaces and moved ornamental motifs between cultures, over time, and across media. They show us, as well, how the large-format hangings, covers, and other, smaller in size, fabrics were often the most valuable possessions of any household at the time. They served, according to the experts, critical physical and social functions alongside more permanent architectural forms. In addition to revealing textiles’ importance and use, the Exhibition Woven Interiors also documented continuities and changes in weaving and aesthetics. In so few words, I was hooked to learn more… https://museum.gwu.edu/woven-interiors-furnishing-early-medieval-egypt

Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket in the Metropolitan Museum Collection of Textiles is a precious piece of artistic handicraft that immediately caught my attention. The rich coulours, subtle gradients of reds for the background, blues and beiges for the bird, and warm greens for the decorative bands, create a composition, however, fragmented it is, that immediately draws the viewer’s attention to the blue bird maybe a sparrow, picking at a basket of grapes. The skillful weaver not only created a masterful colour palette but using thin parallel lines managed to enliven the small bird who seems to quiver and quake with enthusiasm in front of its basket of treats …in a style typical of the figural naturalism of the late Greco-Roman period. According to the Museum experts, the textile under focus was …originally part of a series of decorated bands composing a wall hanging or curtain, …probably used in a domestic setting. The MET textile, thought to have been woven at Herakleia in Anatolia, shows evidence of the importation of exceptional fabrics into Egypt.

For a Student Activity inspired by the Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket in the MET, please… Click HERE!

A Religious Scene in Thessaloniki

Walter S. George, ? – 1962
Watercolour Painting of the North Inner Aisle Mosaics in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Thessaloniki, 1907 (Mosaics date to the  century), Sheet No. 2, Watercolour on Paper, 35.56x 45.72 cm, Photographic Library of the Warburg Institute, London, UK
Konstantinos Males, Greek artist, 1879-1928
Religious Scene, oil on card laid on canvas, 67 x 47 cm, Private Collection
https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Religious-Scene/7FC6668E4C9D5951

I have to confess; I was not familiar with Konstantinos Maleas’s painting Religious Scene in Thessaloniki depicting the Enthroned Virgin with Child and attendant Angels. I do not own the 2000 Adam publications book on Maleas by Prof. A. Kottidis, where, apparently, on page 83, the painting Religious Scene was first presented (another embarrassing confession!). To my defense, I am familiar with a painting of the same religious scene (Mary, Child, and Angels) by Walter S. George, a British architect, who, in 1909, while still a student at the Royal Institute of British Architects, was commissioned by the British School at Athens to go to Thessaloniki and participate in a project to publish a corpus of its Byzantine Monuments including the mosaic composition of the Enthroned Mary. Is it a mere coincidence? https://www.politeianet.gr/books/9789605003616-kotidis-antonis-adam-konstantinos-maleas-1879-1928-110647

Walter S. George, ? – 1962
Watercolour Painting of the North Inner Aisle Mosaics in the Church of Saint Demetrios in Thessaloniki, 1907 (Mosaics date to the  century), Sheet No. 2, Watercolour on Paper, 35.56x 45.72 cm, Photographic Library of the Warburg Institute, London, UK

The years George was working in Thessaloniki, 1906/7-1909 were crucial for the city and the British interest in Byzantine Art. On the 1st of August 1907, the Ottoman authorities embarked on major renovations on Casimir Camii, originally the Byzantine Church of Hagios Demetrios, and in the course of repairs, an unexpected discovery occurred… unknown, magnificent mosaics, quite well preserved, on the wall of the North Inner Aisle of the almost dilapidated Church came to light, astonishing the world! George put himself to work, and on the 1st of September 1909, he delivered a set of eighteen sheets of coloured drawings to his patrons at the  Byzantine Research and Publication Fund in London. Sheet No.2 of the set, depicts the Mosaics over spandrel C of the inner aisle colonnade and, extending asymmetrically, over arches 3 and 4 (from left to right). The discovered mosaics, among them the Enthroned Virgin, were of high quality and well preserved, stirring the interest of Byzantinologists around the world who rushed to Thessaloniki to study and document them.

Carte Postale of the Church of Saint Demetrios before the fire of 1917 https://docplayer.gr/41759103-3-os-ai-5-os-ai-naodomia.html
Konstantinos Males, Greek artist, 1879-1928
Religious Scene, oil on card laid on canvas, 67 x 47 cm, Private Collection
https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Religious-Scene/7FC6668E4C9D5951

Konstantinos Maleas is one of my favourite early 20th century Greek artists. A Romios by birth, and a graduate of the Great School of the Nation in Constantinople, Maleas studied Architecture in Paris and eventually Painting, at the École des Arts Décoratifs, and under the tutelage of the Neo-Impressionist Henri Martin (1901-1908). After completing his studies in Paris, Maleas returned to Istanbul, traveled extensively in the Middle East and Egypt, published his exploits, got married, and in November 1913, settled in Thessaloniki as chief engineer of the city’s Municipality.

Maleas’s Thessaloniki of 1913 was no more the city Walter S. George documented in 1907/9. During the course of the First Balkan War, advancing without hindrance, the Greek Army found itself outside Thessaloniki, exactly on the eve of the Hagios Demetrios’s feast day. Late in the evening of the 26th of October, 1912, Hassan Tashin Pasha, Commander of the Turkish Eighth Army Corps, signed the protocol authorizing the surrender of the city to Constantine, Heir Presumptive, and Commander-in-Chief of the Greek Army at the time. After almost half a millennium of Ottoman rule, Thessaloniki became a Greek city once again. The Church of Hagios Demetrios and its beautiful mosaics were a Byzantine monument, residents and sightseers felt drawn to visit, pay their respects, photograph… and rarely, like Konstantino Malea document in painting! His beautiful Religious Scene is yet another testament of how important these newly discovered mosaics were among specialists like Walter S. George and art aficionados like Konstantinos Maleas. https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Religious-Scene/7FC6668E4C9D5951

Then, disaster stroke on the 5th of August 1917… a  great fire swept through the thriving city of Thessaloniki destroying two-thirds of the city’s center, including the magnificent Church of Hagios Demetrios and leaving more than 70,000 homeless. The beautiful Mosaics of the Church’s North Inner Aisle discovered in 1907 were gone forever! Few photographs and even fewer paintings, created with care and sensitivity by artists like Walter S. George and Konstantinos Maleas are all that remains. …..

For a Student Activity on Maleas’s A Religious Scene in Thessaloniki, please… Check HERE!

Angels in the Palatine Chapel by John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent, American artist, 1856–1925
Angels, Mosaic, Palatine Chapel, Palermo, 1897 or 1901, watercolor gouache, and graphite on off-white wove paper, 25×35.5 cm, the MET, NY, USA https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/df/Angels%2C_Mosaic%2C_Palatine_Chapel%2C_Palermo_MET_50.130.83f.jpg

John Singer Sargent’s watercolours of Sicilian Monuments reveal an extraordinary sensitivity to the unique beauty of Norman churches and their Byzantine mosaic decoration. The artist’s paintings communicate the character of these churches far better, I humbly believe, than modern photography. They create a visual experience I find difficult to describe… yet, seen, these watercolours of shimmering Sicilian mosaics, together or individually, manage to transport me to places of pure magic! The watercolour of Angels in the Palatine Chapel by John Singer Sargent is undoubtedly my favourite!

John Singer Sargent, American artist, 1856–1925
Self-Portrait, 1892, oil on canvas, 53.3×43.2 cm, National Academy of Design, USA
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/John_Singer_Sargent_-_Self-portrait_%281892%29.jpg

During the early months of 1897, Sargent was in Sicily exploring its monuments and preparing for the Boston Library Murals, a project that will keep him busy for twenty-nine years! Cappella Palatina, with amazing Byzantine mosaics, one of the finest works of art of its kind in Italy, was for Sargent an obvious shrine to investigate. https://www.bpl.org/blogs/post/the-origins-of-a-masterwork/

Cappella Palatina, 1132-1143, mosaic decoration, Palermo, Italy
https://gr.pinterest.com/pin/303500462386852490/

Today’s presentation focuses on the mosaic decoration of the sanctuary’s dome, which, in a typical Byzantine manner, presents the bust of the Pantokrator and a chorus of eight, majestically dressed, guardian Angels. Sargent chose to depict the Cappella’s Dome as seen from the nave of the chapel and off to one side, choosing to concentrate his attention more so on the Angels than Christ, whose head is rather obscure. He also pays meticulous attention to three of the Archangels, Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel, their ornate costumes and the inscriptions, in Greek, that identify them. It is interesting how Sargent is acting in this case as a researcher, attentive to specific elements and to issues of style that he could apply to his… Boston Library commission. It has been, on several occasions mentioned, how the Cappella Palatina mosaics in Palermo influenced Sargent’s rendering of the Frieze of Angels, at the south end of the Special Collections Hall at the Boston Public Library, installed in 1903. American Drawings and Watercolors in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, John Singer Sargent, by Stephanie L. Herdrich and H. Barbara Weinberg with and an essay by Marjorie Shelley, The Metropolitan Museu of Art, New York, 2000, Page 293 and https://www.jstor.org/stable/3047256?read-now=1&refreqid=excelsior%3A8d742d266060fbf70ed292204c17b202&seq=3#page_scan_tab_contents

John Singer Sargent, American artist, 1856–1925
Dogma of the Redemption; Trinity and Crucifix, Frieze of Angels, ca. 1895–1903, mural – oil on canvas, Boston Public Library, USA
https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:sq87dv73s

John Singer Sargent is the par excellence representative American artist of the Gilded Age. His life represents its very characteristics! He was born in Florence, Italy, to expatriate American parents…  He had a nomadic childhood, spending winters in Florence, Rome, or Nice and summers in the Alps or other cooler locations. Early in his life, he realized what he wanted to do in life was to become an artist, and supported by his mother, Mary Newbold Sargent, who was herself an accomplished amateur watercolorist he accomplished it. Sargent and his mother carried sketchbooks throughout their extensive travels across Europe, and he developed a quick eye and fast reflexes for recording his impressions of the landscape. Eighteen years old, under the tutelage of the painter Carolus-Duran, who encouraged him to paint directly onto the canvas, without any preparatory drawing, and to study the Old Masters, John Singer Sargent developed his skills, exhibited both landscapes and portraits to much acclaim, and developed a reputation as a fine society portraitist on both sides of the Atlantic. What a life… Brooklyn Museum – Teaching Resource: Special Exhibition – John Singer Sargent Watercolors – April 5–July 28, 2013, p. 2

Sargent wanted more… He grew restless at the height of his career, and sought escape from the constraints of the studio and the demands of his patrons for society portraits. What he did was to travel to remote spots, choose his own subjects, and paint without distraction inspirational watercolours… of landscapes, genre scenes, friends, and family. After 1900 Sargent spent his summers traveling throughout Europe, painting both oil paintings and watercolors. What a life… Brooklyn Museum – Teaching Resource: Special Exhibition – John Singer Sargent Watercolors – April 5–July 28, 2013, p. 2

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!

The Byzantine Church of Hagia Eirene

The Byzantine Church of Hagia Eirene, between the4th and 8th centuries, Istanbul, Turkey
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/Hagia_Eirene_Constantinople_July_2007_001.jpg

The church of the Holy Peace (Hagia Eirene) was built in the fourth century at the place where the old church of the bishop of Byzantium stood before the refoundation of Constantine the Great. The church was destroyed by fire in 532 and then rebuilt. Its present shape goes back to a restoration after an earthquake in 740. The Hagia Eirene formed a complex together with the Hagia Sophia, the Hospital of Sampson in between, and some other subsidiary building, and it was served by the same clergy. Though the Hagia Eirene was always one of the greatest churches of Byzantium, it is mentioned rarely by the sources in later times. In the ottoman time, it became an armory and later a military museum. A fitting introduction for the Byzantine Church of Hagia Eirene … short and sweet! http://www.byzantium1200.com/eirene.html

The Byzantine Churches of Hagia Eirene and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

To be frank… I feel intimidated writing about one of the greatest Churches in Constantinople. How do I start… maybe quoting Procopius and his most valuable book Περὶ Κτισμάτων-De Aedificiis-On Buildings, in Greek… 2. Ἐκκλησίᾳ δὲ τῇ μεγάλῃ ὅμορον οὖσαν καὶ συγκαταφλεχθεῖσαν αὐτῇ πρότερον τὴν τῆς Εἰρήνης ἐπώνυμον Ἰουστινιανὸς βασιλεὺς ὑπερμεγέθη ἐδείματο, ἱερῶν τῶν ἐν Βυζαντίῳ σχεδόν τι ἁπάντων, μετά γε τῆς Σοφίας τὸν νεών, οὐδενὸς δεύτερον. 3. Ἦν δέ τις μεταξὺ ταύταιν δὴ ταῖν ἐκκλησίαιν ξενών, ἀνθρώποις ἀνειμένος ἀπορουμένοις τε καὶ νοσοῦσι τὰ ἔσχατα, εἰ πρὸς τῇ οὐσίᾳ καὶ τὸ σῶμα νοσοῖεν. Τοῦτον ἀνήρ τις θεοσεβὴς ἐν τοῖς ἄνω χρόνοις ἐδείματο, Σαμψὼν ὄνομα. Ἔμεινε δὲ οὐδὲ αὐτὸς τοῖς στασιώταις ἀνέπαφος, ἀλλ´ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἑκατέρᾳ συγκαταφλεχθεὶς ἀπολώλει. Ἰουστινιανὸς δὲ αὐτὸν ἀνῳκοδομήσατο βασιλεύς, κάλλει μὲν κατασκευῆς ἀξιώτερον, πλήθει δὲ οἰκιδίων παρὰ πολὺ μείζω· προσόδῳ τε αὐτὸν ἐπετείων δεδώρηται χρημάτων μεγάλων, ὅπως δὴ πλείοσιν ἐς ἀεὶ ταλαιπωρουμένοις ἀνθρώποις ἰῷτο τὰ πάθη. And in English…The church called after Eirene, which was next to the Great Church and had been burned down together with it, the Emperor Justinian rebuilt on a large scale, so that it was scarcely second to any of the churches in Byzantium, save that of Sophia. And between these two churches there was a certain hospice, devoted to those who were at once destitute and suffering from serious illness, those who were, namely, suffering in loss of both property and health. 15 This was erected in early times by a certain pious man, Samson by name. And neither did this remain untouched by the rioters, but it caught fire together with the churches on either side of it and was destroyed. The Emperor Justinian rebuilt it, making it a nobler building in the beauty of its structure, and much larger in the number of its rooms. He has also endowed it with a generous annual income of money, to the end that through all time the ills of more sufferers may be cured. http://remacle.org/bloodwolf/historiens/procope/edifices1gr.htm and https://www.thebyzantinelegacy.com/hagia-eirene

How do I continue… discussing the Architecture of Hagia Eirene, I will be respectful… and refer you to Alexander Van Millingen, Byzantine Churches In Constantinople Their History And Architecture, London: Macmillan and Co. page 84-104 and The Church of Saint Eirene at Constantinople by W.S. George. If any of the site’s readers have not yet explored, Alexander Van Millingen’s book on the Byzantine Churches In Constantinople  … please do, it’s online! I also read Byzantinai Meletai Topographikai (in Greek), 1877, Constantinople, by Alexandros Georgiou Paspates (1814-1891) pp. 336-338 (387-391). https://archive.org/details/byzantinechurche014623mbp/page/n126/mode/1up and https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-hellenic-studies/article/abs/church-of-st-eirene-in-constantinople-by-w-s-george-a-van-millingen-a-m-woodward-a-j-b-wace-byzantine-research-fund-oxford-university-press-1912/BD6FFE609E6837346F5CAD138E71DDC6 and https://ia800304.us.archive.org/0/items/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog/vyzantinaimelet00unkngoog.pdf

The Byzantine Church of Hagia Eirene, Interior View, between the 4th and 8th centuries, Istanbul, Turkey
https://mobile.twitter.com/ConstantineCity/status/1022854965176541184/photo/3

As a teacher, the Church of Hagia Eirene in Constantinople features prominently in my Byzantine Art curriculum. The Iconoclastic period mosaic of the monumental Golden Cross in the Church’s Holy Apse, rare as it is, is noteworthy for my students. The talented Emperor Constantine V Copronymus (718-775) commissioned it, and an unknown master mosaicist created it. This monumental Cross, a unique evidence of Iconoclastic art, has flared ends that terminate in teardrops and rests on a three-stepped base. Its colour palette is gold on gold, the outline of the cross delineated in black tesserae. The golden background of the Holy Apse Mosaic is executed in an interesting, new technique whereby unusually tiny and closely set gold tesserae were combined with silver tesserae, inserted randomly. The effect is spectacular, as the reflection of natural light on the golden background of the mosaic creates the feeling of a subtle, velvety-like… divine presence. http://constantinople.ehw.gr/Forms/fLemmaBodyExtended.aspx?lemmaID=10895 and https://www.academia.edu/690187/THE_SPLENDOR_OF_ICONOCLASM_THE_MOSAICS_OF_HAGIA_EIRENE_CONSTANTINOPLE_in_Mosaic_the_Square_of_Civilization_ed._G._S%C3%B6zen_Istanbul_2011_

For a Student Activity, please… Check HERE!