Thursday, October 27, 2022

Guide to Byzantine Art

Evan Freeman, Smarthistory
Anne McClanan , Portland State University 
Read more about Guide to Byzantine Art

The “Beginner’s guide” introduces foundational concepts, such as the chronology of Byzantine history, sacred imagery, and wearable objects. Subsequent sections are arranged chronologically, covering the Early Byzantine period (c. 330–700), the Iconoclastic Controversy (c. 700s–843), the Middle Byzantine period (843–1204), the Latin Empire (c. 1204–1261), and the Late Byzantine period (c. 1261–1453) and beyond.

These sections include thematic essays on Byzantine art and architecture, essays that focus on key works (subtitled artworks in focus or architecture in focus), and essays that explore Byzantium’s relationships with other cultures (subtitled cross-cultural perspectives). Finally, we have included questions for study or discussion to encourage teachers, students, and other readers to engage with videos and other content on the Smarthistory website which could not be included in this book format but which we believe richly compliments what is presented here.

About the Contributors


Anne McClanan is a Professor of Byzantine Art at Portland State University, after studying at Harvard (Ph.D.), Johns Hopkins (M.A.), and Columbia University (A.B.). She is currently writing a book on the representation of griffins, looking across time at the transformation and persistence of this motif. Her prior publications explore topics of gender, including a book about early Byzantine empresses and an anthology about the premodern material culture of procreation and marriage, and iconoclasm. She has excavated in Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.


Dr. Evan Freeman is Contributing Editor for Byzantine art at Smarthistory. He completed his Ph.D. at Yale University in 2019, where he wrote his dissertation on portable ritual objects of the Middle Byzantine period. He held an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Smarthistory from 2020–2021 and was recently awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellowship to pursue research at the University of Regensburg. His research explores art, architecture, and ritual in the Byzantine Empire and the wider medieval Mediterranean and Slavic lands.

Table of Contents

  • I. A beginner's guide
  • II. Early Byzantine art and architecture, c. 330-700 C.E.
  • III. The Iconoclastic Controversy, c. 700s-843 C.E.
  • IV. Middle Byzantine art and architecture, c. 843-1204 C.E.
  • V. The Latin Empire, c. 1204–1261 C.E.
  • VI. Late Byzantine Art and Architecture, c. 1261–1453 C.E.

Copyright Year: 2021

Publisher: Smarthistory

Language: English

Conditions of Use

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