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   Course Title    Image in medieval social life
Lecturer    Nina Chichinadze
Institution    Tbilisi State Academy of Fine Arts
Country    Georgia

Art is an integral component of medieval society and always reflects the values and ideology of its time. The aim of the present course is to explore the meaning and function of the Christian cult images in the life of medieval society. Survived works of art (portable icons, painted on the walls, phylacteries) and numerous written sources (hagiographic, hymnographic, canonical literature, historical chronics etc.) give us valuable information concerning the creation and veneration of Christian cult images. The concept and cult of the holy images in the Christian East as well as in the Latin West through centuries is clearly reflected in these primary and secondary sources as well.

            The course will focus on the new approaches to medieval art works aiming to decipher the visual communication and to consider the works of art as a social production. Special attention will be given to the interaction between Byzantine and its neighbors that significantly effected the development of the culture of these countries.     

The class meetings will follow the usual lecture format. Discussions will be especially encouraged. Regular attendance at all classes is essential. There is no final examination for this course. A brief written or oral presentation on the discussed topics will be required by the end of the course.

All topics must be discussed in advance with the lecturer.





L. Ouspensky, Bogoslovie ikoni pravoslavnoi tserkvi, Moscow, 1989;

H. Belting Likeness and Presence: a history of the image before the era of art, Chicago 1994,

G. Galavaris, The icon in the life of church, Leiden 1981;



Sacred image , East and West, Illinois Byzantine Studies 4, ed. R. Ouster-Hout, L. Brubaker, Chicago, 1995;

U. Ecco, Art and beauty in the Middle Ages, Yale University Press 1986





1. Introduction  March 8


2. Image and Christian piety  March 15

    Review of the philosophical, theological, aesthetic background of Christian spirituality and a formation of main principles of Christian imagery.


L. Ouspensky, Bogoslovie, Ch. I.  Proiskhojdenie Khristianskogo obraza, pp 7-20;

Vl. Bichkov, Formirovanie Vizantiskoi estetiki, Vizantiiskaja kultura IV pervaja polovina VII veka, Moscow 1984, pp. 504-545;

E. Kitzinger, The cult of images in the age before iconoclasm, Dumbarton Oaks Papers No 8 1954, pp. 83-150 (further DOP);

A. Hauser, The social history of art, London New York 1999, pp. 109-128;


3. Christian cult images: concept and representations  March 22-29

This lecture is dedicated to the origins and sources of the holy images, their meaning and function, main characteristics.


L. Ouspensky, Bogoslovie, ch. II Pervie ikoni Spasitela I Bogomateri, pp. 21-33, ch. X, Smisl i soderjanie ikoni, pp.119-161;

Kajhdan, H. Maguir, Byzantine haghiographical texts as sources of arts, DOP No45 1991 pp. 9-12, 12-18;

N. Oikonomidis, The holy icon as asset, DOP No 45 1991, pp. 35-45;

G. Dargon : Holy images and likeness, DOP No45, pp. 205-220;

L. Brubaker: Image, audience and place, sacred image., pp.205-220


4. Iconoclasm   April 6  

Discussion of the ideological, political and social premises of iconoclastic controversy and the defense of the images.


L. Ouspensky, Bogoslovie, ch.VI, Kratkaja istoria ikonoborcheskogo perioda, pp. 77-87, ch.VII, Ikono-borcheskoeuchenie I otvet na nee tserkvi. pp. 89-117;

Vl. Bichkov, Estetika, period ikonoborchestva, Viz. Kultura VII – XII veka, Moscow 1989, pp. 401-434;

G. Ladner The concept of the image in the Greek fathers and the Byzantine iconoclastic controversy, DOP No7 1953, pp. 3-34;


5. Holy Images in liturgy  April 13

Survey of the main church rites connected with the holy images. Place and functions of the icons in service, connections between images and liturgy.


Ch. Walter, Appendix: Office and Ceremony in other media, Art and Ritual of the Byzantine Church, London 1982, pp. 79-81;

N. Patterson Sevcenko, Icons in liturgy, DOP, No 45 1991, pp. 45-81;

M. Butirski, The Byzantine Rite in Front of an Icon According to the Tipikon of the Pantokrator Church at Constantinople, Miracle working Icon in Byzantium and Old Rus, ed. A. Lidov, Moscow 1996. pp. 145-159 (in Russian);

L. Evseeva Vizantiiskie ikoni proskinesis v bogoslujebnom obikhode vostochnochristianskogo khrama, Liturghia I Iskusstvo, ed. A. Lidov, St. Petersburg 1994, pp. 69-60;

H. Belting, Likeness. pp. 64-73;


6.  Miracle working icons and their cult  April 20

Descriptions, histories and legends, veneration and feasts, rituals connected with the miracle working Christian images.


Miracle working icon in Byzantine and Old Rus; Kartuli literaturis krestomatia, ed. S. Kubaneishvili  Tbilisi 1957, Giorghi Merchule, The life of Gregol Khantzteli, Basili Zarzmeli, The life of Serapion Zarzmeli ; Ioane Ancheli, Hymn of Anchiskhati etc.


7. Imperial imagery  April 27

Emperor and court in the iconic representations, the influence of the court rituals on iconography.


A.     Grabar, L’empreur dans l’art byzantine, Strasburg 1953;

A. Weyl Carr, Court Culture and Cult Icons in Middle Byzantine Constantinople, Byzantine Court Culture from 829 to 1204, ed. H. Maguire, DO Washington DC 1997, pp. 81-98;


8. Donors and ktetors    May 4

Examination: who were the commissioners of the holy images and the purpose of their donations.


N. Patterson Sevcenko, The representations of donors and holy figures on four Byzantine icons, Deltion Christianiki Eteria Archeologiki, 1193-1994, pp. 157-165;

R. Cormack, Aristocratic patronage, the arts in the 11th- 12th cc Byzantium, Studies in art and patronage, London 1991, pp.158-172;

N. Chichinadze, Ktetors of the medieval Georgian painted icons, Relighia No 1, 2000, (forthcoming)


9. Crusader Icons  May 11

Conjunction and diffusion of the East Christian and West Latin artistic canons and themes will be discussed.


K. Weitzmann, Icon Painting in Crusader Kingdom, DOP No 20, 1966, pp. 51-83;

Ibid,  Idem. Various Aspects of Byzantine Influence on the Latin Countries from the 6th yo the 12th cc,  pp 1-24,

Idem, Four Icons on Mount Sinai: New Aspects in Crusader Art, Jahrbuch der Osterreichischen Byzantinistik, Wien 1977, pp. 279-293; 


10. Images and Pilgrimage  May 18

The role of the holy Sites and the relics in the creation of the cult images.


K. Weitzmann, Loca Santa and the Representational Arts of Palestine, DOP, No 28 1974, pp. 33-55,

G. Vikan, Byzantine Pilgrim’s Art, Heaven on Earth, ed. L. Safran Pennsylvania State Un. ty 1993; pp 229-250;                    


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