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The glory of Byzantium,
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This review is from: Byzantium: 330-1453 (Hardcover)The Byzantine empire lasted over one thousand years, the precise chronology is given in the exhibition title "Byzantium:330-1453" held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, until March 22nd.
There is no consensus on the merit of Byzantium and its contribution to world civilization as the verdict of its severest critic, British historian Edward Gibbon attests.
But whatever one's judgment is on Byzantium nobody can deny the brilliance of the exhibition.
The character of Byzantium is defined by its Hellenism and Eastern Christian Orthodoxy. Artistic techniques, such as the use of gold, silver and ivory and above all the painting of icons and frescoes, remained at an exalted level of excellence throughout the turbulent history of the empire. The exhibition has brilliant examples of this excellence gathered from museums in Greece, throughout the Balkans, Italy and America.
The presentation of items ranging from late Roman gravestones, to an 11th-century incense burner and Italo-Cretan religious art suggests a worthy successor to ancient Rome, that later became a worthy precursor to Renaissance.
The exhibition's stellar pieces comprise ten icons from St Catherine's monastery of Mount Sinai, including famous ones of Moses and Archangel Michael. With their restrained excellence, they exemplify an Eastern Christian view of matter and spirit that far exceeds national boundaries.
The quality of text and images in the catalogue is exemplary.