The Byzantine Empire shone with intellectual and artistic brilliance at a time when Western Europe was deep in the Dark Ages and flourished long after the first stirrings of the Renaissance. When the Roman Empire was divided between east and west, Emperor Constantine chose Byzantium as the new eastern capital and renamed it Constantinople in 330 A.D. The empire was one of the longest that has ever existed, and its arts continued to influence other cultures long after it came to an end with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
Art historian Aneta Georgievska-Shine explores some of the most remarkable aspects of the Byzantine legacy as seen through its visual culture: the extraordinary icons, frescoes, architecture, and other art works created throughout the empire that reflected its position at a confluence of west and east.
9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The Historical Context
Constantinople: From the birth of the New Rome to its metamorphosis into Istanbul.
10:45 a.m. to 12 noon. In Search of an Artistic Ideal
Holy images and the controversies surrounding them, the church as a meeting point of heaven and earth; Constantinople and Greece.
12 to 1 p.m. Lunch (Participants provide their own)
1 to 2 p.m. Art Along the Boundaries
Monuments of Byzantine art in the Balkan Peninsula.
2:15 to 3:15 p.m. Beyond the Empire
From Venice to Russia, Byzantium’s far-reaching influence.
Georgievska-Shine is a lecturer in the departments of art history and fine arts at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Includes tour of exhibition Heaven and Eaterh: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections on view at the National Gallery of Art (sign-up information in class). Admission to the National Gallery of Art is free. Program fees are based on Smithsonian costs.
The exhibition Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections is on view at the National Gallery of Art through March 2.
Discover the legendary ancient sites of the Aegean Sea on tour—Wonders of Turkey and the Greek Isles.
Visit the Smithsonian Journeys page to see more