Art associated with the Byzantine Empire. Its characteristic styles were first codified in the 6th century and persisted with remarkable homogeneity until the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. Concerned almost exclusively with religious expression, it tends to reflect an intensely hierarchical view of the universe. It relies on vigour of line and brilliance of colour; individual features are absent, forms are flattened, and perspective is absent. Walls, vaults, and domes were covered in mosaic and fresco decoration in a total fusion of architectural and pictorial expression. Byzantine sculpture was largely limited to small ivory reliefs. The importance of Byzantine art to European religious art was immense; the style was spread by trade and expansion to the Mediterranean basin, eastern European centres, and especially Russia. See also Byzantine architecture.
The Virgin and Child between Emperor John II (Comnenus) and Empress
—© 1997; AISA, Archivo Iconográfico, Barcelona, España
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