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Art of the Byzantine Era (World of Art) Paperback – 29 Apr 1963

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd; Reprint edition (29 April 1963)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500200041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500200049
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Avgoustis on 10 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
For those looking for an introduction to this rich area of art this is a must. It covers the art of the empire in a simple, well-written and at the same time, informative manner. Its big plus is that it presents the variations of the different geographic areas eg Constantinople, Venice, the Balkans etc. in a small book.
Well-illustarted throughout, the only "negative" - which is explained by the age of the book - is the fact that colour illustrations are rather limited.
Talbot Rice is an author who knows his subject extremly well - and must have a passion for it too - which makes this book a pleasure to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Byzantine era is not very favourite with writers. Luckily, David Talbot Rice is a writer who not alone knows very well the Byzantine era, but is also a very entertaining writer. His insight and passion in this period transcend throughout the book.

We learn about how the Eastern Christian World and the east of the Western Christian world (Venice, Sicily) change during the difficult centuries after the fall of the Roman empire. The author shows us the richness of their icons (not surprising for a man as Talbot Rice), frescoes, mosaic, architecture and other pieces of art.

An important number of pictures make it a pleasure to read. For anyone wanting to know more on this fascinating era, this book is a must.
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This book opens the horizons both for who does not know what Byzantine Art is and for someone who already knows a bit. It tells from its beginning to recent times; it goes by regions and specifies some works, which I could put on my list to visit, since I was reading it while I was in Bulgaria. It's good to read it if you're in a place where you can see real works.
On the other hand I got a bit lost in the information, probably because I didn't fully managed the subject yet. You should be able to understand an History of Art's speech. It's a good guide.
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By Mcleaton on 17 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very pleased with this item. Speedy delivery. No complaints. Would order from this supplier again & recommend them to others.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Good survey of art in the Byzantine "commonwealth" 10 Oct. 2011
By Kirialax - Published on
Format: Paperback
While this book discusses Byzantine art, it also describes art in what Dmitri Obolensky described as The Byzantine Commonwealth. As such, this book is on a lot more than just the art produced in and for the elites in Constantinople. Instead Talbot Rice describes the influence of Byzantine art surrounding regions, such as Armenia, Norman Sicily, the Slavonic lands, and Georgia. The cover of the book amply demonstrates this fact, given that the mosaic depicted is not one produced in the Byzantine Empire, but rather the crowning of Roger II of Sicily. Looking at regions outside of Constantinople's temportal power but still under the influence of Byzantine art is what this book does. In this survey, Talbot Rice examines an enormous variety of artistic source material: mosaics, manuscripts, textiles, objects of art, churches, sculpture, ivories, and enamels. While this is an incredible selection of material spanning an vast geographical area, he manages to synthesize it cogently. The result is this good little book on Byzantine art. For a Thames and Hudson publication, I was a little disappointed in the number of colour plates, given that their books often include a disproportionate quantity of colour plates in relation to their price compared to many other art books. Nonetheless, there are still sixty-some colour images in this book, and given the price one can hardly complain. This is a great little book, but if you're looking for a great big art book on the roughly the same subject (albeit somewhat more confined chronologically) where everything is in colour, check out the shockingly affordable Glory of Byzantium: Arts and Culture of the Middle Byzantine Era, A.D. 843-1261
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A Durable Survey 20 May 2005
By Eric Trowbridge - Published on
Format: Paperback
Rice's introduction to Byzantine art is particularly useful in that it does not limit itself to the arts of Constantinople only. It focuses first on the Late Antique period (primarily in Egypt), and then goes on to provide worthwhile overviews of artistic developments in Constantinople, Byzantine Italy and the Balkans. And, although he provides little more than a cursory explanation of the complex causes of change in the Byzantine aesthetic, the author's enthusiasm for his subject is evident in his clear, jargon-free descriptions of individual works. Despite being originally published almost 40 years ago, this study still effectively conveys the breadth of Byzantium's artistic influence better than most.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Enjoy the Sacred Art, and its historical background 18 Mar. 2006
By Didaskalex - Published on
Format: Paperback
"Not since the world was made was there ever seen or won so great a treasure, or so noble or so rich, ... had there been so much wealth as was found in Constantinople." Robert of Clari, a French crusader, in 1204

Byzantine Art:
Byzantine always admired art reflected the splendor and prestige of its court and church, which were often intertwined in Byzantine society and culture. Byzantine art set standards for craftsmanship, and its architecture reflected the Eastern Orthodox worship traditions which thrived in the Eastern part of the post Constantine Roman Empire. The the time frame of Byzantine art consists of a first golden age, started after establishment in 330 the second golden age of Byzantine art, and the late period, ended with the Ottomans in 1453. The development of the style of Byzantine Art was achieved during the Fifth and Sixth centuries. During the Eighth and Ninth Centuries, the writing of icons (painting of saints' images) was prohibited by Emperor Leo III in 726, and then after by the iconoclasts who believed iconography was a form of idolatry and that all icons should be destroyed. This spilt the empire into two parties and came to be known as the Iconoclastic Crisis. Icon painting and mosaics were restored again in the Ninth century and thrived until the fall of the Empire to the Turkmen. Sculpture was limited only to then small ivory book covers.
In, 'Art a World History' Jo Marceau, concludes that, "Byzantine art displayed the same constancy: in the fifth and sixth centuries, it developed a formal expression that was manifested in thousands of works of art that came to be regarded as sacred and immutable."

Sacred Art of Icons:
The Eastern Churches adopted an earnest reflected tone to worship in contrast to the colossal cathedrals of the West. This focus is reflected in Byzantine art, and in architecture as featured in the unique dome style, exemplary in the Hagia Sophia. The figures in those arts appear flat, two dimensional with minimal use of shadowing, to give any three dimensional impression. Figures are almost always presented from the front with somber faces and solemn looks amplified with staring eyes. Faces were rather narrow and dark, with trendy use of a reflecting gold background. Very little attempt, if any, was made for realism in the painting, while mosaic depictions are more impressionists, the Ravenna collection is especially cheerful and beautiful.

A Classic Art Study:
Talbot Rice, an authority on Byzantine Art, who traveled and worked in east Mediterranean countries, and visited Cappadocia and Cilicia, wrote a compelling study, and edited a masterly presentation of almost 250 pieces of art in icons, mosaics, frescoes, Coptic textiles, ivories, jeweled gospel covers, and gave an exposition of the beautiful architecture of the era, which characterizes Orthodox Worship to date. This study is a rare attestation to the roots of iconography in Coptic mural paintings at the ancient monasteries at Bagawat (5th century), Deir Abu Hennis and Bawit, and those of Suryan monastery. But most beautiful is the Coptic icon of Christ and St. Menas (now in the Louvre)

David Talbot Rice:
Talbot Rice was University of Edinburgh Fine arts professor, and an eminent Byzantine. He joined the Oxford Field Museum excavation at Kish, Iraq, after graduation in 1925. He first visited Mount Athos with Byzantinist Robert Byron in 1926. In 1932, Rice was appointed a lecturer, at the University of London.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Byzantium to explore 12 Nov. 2013
By Chris Martin - Published on
Format: Paperback
In most histories of western art, the Byzantine style sat someone incongruously to the side, as treatment was usually limited to frescoes in Ravenna and Constantinople. Yet its unusual style had a wider geographical spread and more universal appeal as David Talbot-Rice explores here in the Pelican edition of the Style and Civilisation series. Originally published by Oxford University Press in 1935 with its limited circulation, Penguin approached the erudite Talbot-Rice to update his work for a wider, but still discerning audience. This 570 page reader is still daunting for the novice to art history however, but its handy 5" x 8" size makes it worthwhile. This older edition now looks as though it has been overtaken, updated and reissued by Thames and Hudson with more colour plates.

The various chapters cover architecture, mosaics, manuscript illustrations, panel paintings , sculpture , enamels , ceramics and glasswork. My 1968 edition in paperback is still useful to read , but modern readers would more likely prefer more colour plates than is found here. Many cathedral photographs are accompanied by useful plans of buildings. This noted author does a brilliant job in commentary. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
gorgeous book 2 Mar. 2013
By shelley jean - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Beautiful art work. The Byzantine era so influenced our art. It is not familiar to everyone, but it really is a fascinating time.
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