The Italo-Cretan Religious Painting and The Byzantine-Palaeologan Legacy

The Italo-Cretan Religious Painting and The Byzantine-Palaeologan Legacy

Yandim, Sercan

Edebiyat Fakültesi Dergisi / Journal of Faculty of Letters, Cilt/Volume 25 Say›/Number 1 (Haziran /June 2008) 


This paper introduces examples of late- and post-Byzantine icon painting, while focusing on the style of the so-called Italo-Cretan school. The last phase of the Byzantine painting is a period of novelties both in style and in iconography. It differs from the Comnenian painting of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. New iconographical types appear mainly of Christ as the High Priest, the Virgin Mary as Zoodochos Pege; and the Unfading Rose and/or the Winged Image of St. John the Baptist as the Angel of Wilderness, etc. The masters of the Italo-Cretan school, which was founded on the island of Crete by the end of the fourteenth century, elaborated these iconographies and stylistic elements of the late-Byzantine period. The school remained active for about three hundred years and it represented the last of the centralized artistic movements in the Byzantine and/or Greek-Orthodox painting. Cretan school took its basic artistic inspirations not only from the Palaeologan painting but also from the printed material which was widely circulated at that time, and covered basically the engravings and paintings of the Italian Renaissance as well as of the Mannerist artists such as Marcantonio Raimondi, Giovanni Bellini. Consequently, the school acquired its own artistic means. Among others, the works are considered to be the final stage achieved in the Byzantine painting with artistic as well as some market value. The Greek-Orthodox monasteries carried out large-scale renovation-and restoration programs and in order to pursue these vast projects, the artists of the Cretan school were commissioned. Later, in the seventeenth and the eigtenteenth centuries, the importance of regional and local centers and the wandering painters increased. Illustrative examples of the Italo-Cretan school are also found in the archaeological museums in Turkey in the cities of Antalya, Tokat and Sinop.

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