Later Byzantine Painting: Art, Agency, and Appreciation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Later Byzantine Painting

Art, Agency, and Appreciation, 1st Edition

By Robert S. Nelson


430 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789970
pub: 2007-01-12

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Written over nearly three decades, the fifteen essays involve the three a's of the title, art, agency, and appreciation. The first refers to the general subject matter of the book, Byzantine art, chiefly painting, of the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries, the second to its often human-like agency, and the last to its historical reception. Responding to different issues and perspectives that have animated art history and Byzantine studies in recent decades, the essays have wide theoretical range from art historical formalism, iconography, archaeology and its manuscript equivalent codicology, to statistics, patronage, narratology, and the histories of science and collecting. The series begins with art works themselves and with the imagery and iconography of church decoration and manuscript illumination, shifts to the ways that objects act in the world and affect their beholders, and concludes with more general appreciations of Byzantine art in case studies from the thirteenth century to the present.


’It is a very useful volume, including some of his most important and thought-provoking essays of recent years. … This volume makes a great case for the study of Byzantine art, and its potential when treated with subtlety and thought.’ English Historical Review ’This book, containing fifteen articles written over nearly three decades, is a valuable contribution to the study of Byzantine imagery.’ The Burlington Magazine ’As a collection of articles by a major Byzantine art historian, this is a fantastically useful book… The articles themselves are important as contributions to the field of Byzantine art history: Nelson's engagement with theoretical standpoints beyond those traditional in Byzantine art history has been significant in helping to transform the ways in which Byzantine art is studied in the English-speaking world. However, his scholarship is not simply about Byzantium. His work should be read by a wider audience for what it says about theoretical approaches and methodologies, and for ways in which art history can go beyond the artist.’ Art History

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Later Byzantine Painting: The Church of the Chora and Palaiologan Art: Taxation with representation. Visual narrative and the political field of the Kariye Camii; The Chora and the Great Church: intervisuality in 14th-century Constantinople; Heavenly allies at the Chora; Tales of two cities: the patronage of early Palaeologan art and architecture in Constantinople and Thessaloniki. Manuscript Illumination: Theoktistos and associates in 12th-century Constantinople: an illustrated New Testament of 1133 A.D.; Relative size and comparative value in Byzantine illuminated manuscripts: some quantitative perspectives; The Palaeologina group: additional manuscripts and new questions; A Byzantine gospel book of 1262 A.D.: Paris, Gr. 117; A 13th-century Byzantine miniature in the Vatican library. Agency: Michael the Monk and his gospel book; The discourse of icons, then and now; To say and to see: ekphrasis and vision in Byzantium. Appreciation: The manuscripts of Antonios Malakes and the collecting and appreciation of illuminated books in the early Palaeologan period; The Italian appreciation and appropriation of illuminated Byzantine manuscripts, c. 1200-1450; Living on the Byzantine borders of Western art. Index.

About the Author

Robert S. Nelson is Robert Lehman Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, USA.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General