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proscribed, or destroyed, seems, at first sight, to bear out this opinion. If, however, we examine the facts more closely, we shall find that the iconoclastic age was far from being inartistic, and that it witnessed the insurrection of new ideas and tendencies which exercised a potent and valuable influence upon the religious art of the succeeding period. One immediate effect, indeed, which may be considered a loss and a calamity, the doctrine of the image-breakers produced. It exterminated a whole branch of art, it abolished sculpture. The polemic against images had carried weight with orthodox opinion so far that sculptured representations of holy persons or sacred scenes were discontinued by common consent. a partial victory for the iconoclasts, an illogical concession of the image-worshippers. No formal prohibition was enacted by Church or State; the rejection of plastic images was à tacit but authoritative decree of public opinion.
The iconoclastic sovrans were not unfriends of pictorial art as such. Two of the most illustrious and uncompromising, Constantine V. and Theophilus, who desired to abolish entirely religious pictures of a monumental kind, sought a substitute in secular painting for the decoration of both sacred and profane buildings. The antique traditions of profane art had never disappeared in the Byzantine world, but they had become inconspicuous and uninfluential through the domination of religious art, with its fixed iconographic types, which had ascended to its highest plane of excellence in the sixth century. Under the auspices of the iconoclasts, profane art revived. Constantine V. caused the church of Blachernae to be decorated with landscapes, trees, and birds and animals; Theophilus followed his example. This was not really a novelty; it was a return to the primitive decoration of early Christian churches, which had been gradually abandoned. Scènes de genre, pictures of the chase, scenes in the hippodrome, were demanded from the artists who adorned the halls of the Imperial Palace. Of such frescoes and mosaics we know only what chroniclers tell us, but some ivory coffers which were
1 This has been shown in some bril. D. V. Ainalov, Ellinisticheskiia osnovy liant pages of Diehl's L'Art byzantin, vizantiiskago iskusstva, 1900. 339 sqq., 372 sqq. To this masterly
2 Cont. Th. 99. See above, p. 130 work the following pages are indebted. sqq., for the decoration of his new For the influence of Hellenistic on buildings in the Palace. Byzantine painting and design, see
carved in the ninth century illustrate the revival of profane art under the iconoclasts. One of them may be seen in London, exhibiting scenes of pagan mythology, such as the rape of Europa and the sacrifice of Iphigeneia.
The taste for rich ornament also characterized this period, and did not expire with the defeat of iconoclasm. It is apparent in the description of the sumptuously decorated buildings of Theophilus; and Basil I., in the new palaces which he erected, did not fall behind the splendour of the impious Amorian. This taste displayed itself also in the illumination of books, of which brilliant specimens are preserved dating from the tenth and eleventh centuries.
Even under the iconoclastic dispensation, artists who desired to represent religious subjects had an outlet for the expression of their ideas in the illustration of manuscripts. A psalter is preserved at Moscow ? which is supposed to have been written in the early part of the ninth century in the monastery of Studion. It is simply and elegantly illustrated by coloured vignettes in the margins, animated and realistic, free from the solemnity which we associate with Byzantine art. The proud who “set their mouth against the heavens and their tongue walketh through the earth are portrayed by two bearded men with long tongues touching the ground, and upper lips, like beaks, which touch a bowl, surmounted by a cross, representing the sky.
The iconoclastic controversy itself supplied the monastic artists with motives to point the moral and adorn the text of sacred writ. In another psalter which must have been written in the generation succeeding the triumph of orthodoxy, the congregation of the wicked is exemplified by a picture of the Synod of A.D. 815. We see Leo the Amorian on a throne, the Patriarch Theodotos seated by his side, and two men defacing with long spears the icon of Christ. The assembling of the righteous is depicted as the Council of A.D. 843, where Jannes is trampled under foot by the orthodox Patriarch who holds the image of Christ in his hand, while above we see the
1 The coffer of Veroli in the Victoria and is known as the Khludov Psalter. and Albert Museum.
See Diehl, op. cit. 353-354. 2 In the monastery of St. Nicolas. It has been studied by Kondakov,
3 Diehl, ib. Miniatures d'un manuscrit grec du
4 Ps. 73. 9. This picture is repropsautier de la collection Chloudof (1878), duced in Diehl, ib.
Biblical sorcerer Simon hurled down by St. Peter. In another book of the same period, designed for popular instruction, the Physiologus, some of the illustrations are allusive to the recent controversy and inspired by monastic spite; but this manuscript exhibits at the same time the influence of the profane art which the iconoclasts had revived, in the realism of its pictures and in the pagan subjects, such as sirens, nymphs, and centaurs.2
The employment of art in the service of controversy, or as an outlet for controversial spite, seems to be characteristic of the age. The archbishop Gregory Asbestas, the friend and supporter of Photius, had some skill in painting, and he illustrated a copy of the Acts of the synod which condemned Ignatius with realistic and somewhat scurrilous caricatures. At the beginning of the first Act he depicted the flogging of the Patriarch, above whose head was inscribed “the Devil.” The second picture showed the bystanders spitting upon him as he was haled to prison; the third represented him, “the son of perdition,” suffering dethronement; the fourth, bound in chains and going into exile. In the fifth his neck was in a collar; and in the sixth he was condemned to death. Each vignette had an insulting legend; and in the seventh, and last, the head of “ Antichrist” was severed from his body. This
“ manuscript, in a rich cover of purple silk, was found among the books of Photius, and was burned, with others, at the Eighth Ecumenical Council.3
Enough has been said to indicate the significance of the iconoclastic movement for the history of art.
A ban was placed on certain forms of pictorial work; but whatever temporary disadvantages this may be thought to have entailed, they were far outweighed by the revival of other styles which were in danger of complete extinction. If there had been no iconoclastic movement, the dead religious art of the seventhcentury decadence might have continued, without reanimation, to the end. Under the Isaurian and Amorian dynasties profane art revived; there was a renaissance of the old picturesque decorative style which, originating in Alexandria, had spread 1 The Barberini Psalter (in the 3 Vita Ign. 260.
A second copy Vatican). Tikkanen, Die Psalter. had been prepared, destined for the illustration im Mittelalter, 1895. Diehl, Emperor Lewis. A companion MS., 355-356.
containing the Acts of the Councií Strzygowski, Der Bilderkreis des which condemned Pope Nicolas, seems griechischen Physiologus, 1899.
not to have been illustrated.
over the world, and profoundly influenced the development of the art of the early Church. Alexandrine decoration, with its landscapes, idyllic scenes, mythological themes, still life, and realistic portraits, came to life again in the iconoclastic period; a school of secular artists, who worked for the Emperors and the Court, arose; and the spirit of their work, with its antique inspiration, did not fail to awaken religious painters from their torpor. For the second great period of her art, which coincided with the Macedonian dynasty, Byzantium was chiefly indebted to the iconoclastic sovrans. Or rather we should say that art revived under the Amorians, religious art under their successors.
Wealth was a condition of this artistic revival, of which a chief characteristic was rich and costly decoration. In the work of the age of Justinian the richness of the material had been conspicuous; in the subsequent period, when all the resources of the State were strained in a life and death struggle with formidable enemies, there were no funds for the luxuries of art. By the ninth century the financial prosperity of the Empire had revived; the Imperial coffers were well filled ; and the Emperors could indulge their taste or their pride in artistic magnificence. In the flourishing condition of the minor arts of the jeweller and the enameller, from the ninth to the twelfth century, we may also see an indication of the wealth of Constantinople. Here, too, we may probably suspect oriental influence. The jewellers did not abandon repoussé work, but they devoted themselves more and more to the colour effects of enamel decoration; the richest altars and chalices, crosses and the caskets which contained crosses or relics, the gold and silver cups and vessels in the houses of the rich, goldembroidered robes, the bindings of books, all shone with cloisonné enamels. The cloisonné technique was invented in the East, probably in Persia, and though it seems to have been known at Byzantium in the sixth century, we may ascribe its domestication and the definite abandonment of the old champlevé method to the oriental influences of the ninth. Portable objects with enamel designs, as well as embroidered fabrics,
i On the formation of a new system of iconography between the ninth and eleventh centuries, see Diehl, 381 sqq. 2 Diehl, op. cit. 642.
A cross preserved in the
treasury of the Sancta Sanctorum at Rome, ascribed to this period, is wrought in cloisonné enamel (not glass).
easily travelled, and were frequently offered by the Emperors to foreign potentates; they must have performed an appreciable part in diffusing in Western Europe the influence of the motives and styles of Byzantine art.
2. Education and Learning Among the traditions which the Empire inherited from antiquity, one of the most conspicuous, but not perhaps duly estimated in its importance as a social fact, was higher education. The children of the well-to-do class, from which the superior administrative officials of the State were mainly drawn, were taught ancient Greek, and gained some acquaintance at least with some of the works of the great classical writers. Illiterateness was a reproach among reputable people; and the possession of literary education by laymen generally and women was a deep-reaching distinction between Byzantine civilisation and the barbarous West, where the field of letters was monopolized by ecclesiastics. It constituted one of the most indisputable claims of Byzantium to superiority, and it had an important social result. In the West the cleavage between the ecclesiastical and lay classes was widened and deepened by the fact that the distinction between them coincided with the distinction between learned and ignorant. In the East there
. were as many learned laymen as learned monks and priests; and even in divinity the layman was not helplessly at the mercy of the priest, for his education included some smattering of theology. The Patriarchs Tarasius and Nicephorus must have acquired, before they were suddenly moved into the spiritual order, no contemptible knowledge of theology; and Photius, as a layman, was a theological expert. Thus layman and cleric of the better classes met on common ground; there was no pregnant significance in the word clerk; and ecclesiastics never obtained the influence, or played the part, in administra
1 This has been rightly insisted on nople to the Abbey of Stavelot in by Diehl. The enamelled reliquaries Belgium has recently been sold in preserved at Limbourg and Gran are London. It contains a relic of the well known, and there are many fine true Cross. Many churches in France specimens in the Treasury of St. Mark and Germany possess rich silks, with at Venice, including the Pala d'Oro. embroidered or woven designs, from An enamelled gold triptych brought the factories of Constantinople (tenth in the twelfth century from Constanti- and eleventh centuries).