Byzantium and the Mediterranean (11th–13th C.): Multiculturalism, Gender and Profane Topics in Illuminated Manuscripts

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (27 February 2023) | Viewed by 9200

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Art and Musicology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: visual arts from antiquity to c. 1500; medieval artist; Byzantine art; Romanesque art; artistic transfer and mobility; patronage; pilgrimage; Mediterranean studies
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Art and Musicology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: medieval artists; Romanesque sculpture; Romanesque painting; building construction; late antiquity; sociology of arts
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Instituto de Historia, Departamento de Estudios Medievales, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas, 28037 Madrid, Spain
Interests: byzantine art; cultural exchange; medieval mediterranean; illuminated manuscripts; gender

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Byzantine illuminated manuscripts constitute a fascinating field of study to be explored in terms of cross-cultural exchanges, gender issues and the spreading of profane topics. This phenomenon was especially rich in the turmoil of 12th and 13th century art in the Mediterranean as a privileged space for interchanging between Latins, Greeks and Muslims. The prestige of Constantinople, the continuity of deep-rooted Byzantine artistic traditions in most of the areas of the Mediterranean (Sicily, Venice, Cyprus, Crusader States, etc), and the increasing mobility of artists, models, and codices fostered these kinds of artistic encounters.

Some of the Byzantine codices from this period—chronicles, manuals of poliorcetics, cynegetic treatise or even biblical and ecclesiastical manuscripts—provide us precious information related to customs, ceremonies, warfare techniques, buildings, clothing, social strata and ethnic and cultural diversity.

We invite articles concerning these topics, especially those regarding gender roles, the depiction of Otherness, the use and meaning of profane repertoires in manuscripts and their spreading and impact on other visual arts.    

Proposals for papers of up to max 15.000 words in length should be sent to the guest editors, Manuel Castiñeiras, on [email protected], and Carles Sánchez Márquz, on [email protected], by 31 October, 2022. Papers should be in English.

Prof. Dr. Manuel Castiñeiras
Prof. Dr. Carles Sánchez Márquez
Dr. Verónica Abenza
Guest Editors

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Byzantine illuminated manuscripts
  • 12th and 13th century art in the Mediterranean
  • cross-cultural studies
  • profane repertoires
  • gender

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

28 pages, 13651 KiB  
Article
Arts, Artworks and Manuscripts in Sicily between the 12th and 13th Centuries: Interactions and Interchanges at the Mediterranean Crossroads
by Giulia Arcidiacono
Arts 2023, 12(3), 104; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12030104 - 16 May 2023
Viewed by 1969
Abstract
This research explores the figurative culture that flourished in Sicily during the 12th and 13th centuries, focusing on the interplay between artifacts of different types, materials, techniques and uses. Paintings, sculptures and objects that share a common visual language are analyzed with the [...] Read more.
This research explores the figurative culture that flourished in Sicily during the 12th and 13th centuries, focusing on the interplay between artifacts of different types, materials, techniques and uses. Paintings, sculptures and objects that share a common visual language are analyzed with the aim of highlighting recurring motifs, mutual influences and related sources. The main focus is on the decorative apparatus of the Sacramentary Ms. 52 (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España), one of the most famous illuminated manuscripts from Sicily. The date, origin and patronage of this luxurious liturgical book have been the subject of intense scholarly debate. In order to shed light on these controversial issues, this study re-examines the various hypotheses considered by scholars, taking into account the historical events that affected Sicily from the end of the Norman to the beginning of the Swabian era. This analysis also shows how the decoration of the manuscript fits into the wider dynamics of cultural exchange that characterized Sicily and the Mediterranean during this transitional period. Full article
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15 pages, 3377 KiB  
Article
The Early Manuscripts of San Salvatore de Lingua in Messina (Mid-12th Century): Surveying the Chief Decorator
by Antonino Tranchina
Arts 2023, 12(3), 98; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12030098 - 09 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1915
Abstract
The monastery of Holy Savior has been the subject of much scholarship, but the liturgical reform requested by King Roger II of Sicily and carried out by the first archimandrite, Luke of Rossano, and the latter’s struggle to establish seemly equipment, has been [...] Read more.
The monastery of Holy Savior has been the subject of much scholarship, but the liturgical reform requested by King Roger II of Sicily and carried out by the first archimandrite, Luke of Rossano, and the latter’s struggle to establish seemly equipment, has been largely neglected. Given its potential relevance for the material setting of the monastery’s early manuscript collection through the middle of the twelfth century, this seems an oversight. Art historians have repeatedly claimed that the monastery’s lofty status could have enabled the spread of Byzantine models to Norman Sicily, especially in relation to figurative arts and manuscript decoration. This paper discusses the same assumption from the opposite perspective. It explores the main tendencies of manuscript decoration at San Salvatore based on the extant evidence from the monastery’s early collection. Building on the paleographical and codicological observations provided in the past decades (mostly by philologists), I examine the manuscripts in terms of decorative practice and artistic culture. Full article
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25 pages, 51110 KiB  
Article
Guardians of the Text: Griffins and Sphinxes in the Neapolitan Ovid (BNN ms. IV F 3)
by Fátima Díez-Platas
Arts 2023, 12(3), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12030096 - 08 May 2023
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Abstract
This article investigates the origins and significance of images of griffins and sphinxes—hybrid creatures of Greco-Roman tradition—in the marginal decorations of the so-called “Neapolitan Ovid” (BNN ms. IV F 3), the first illuminated manuscript of the Metamorphoses, probably from the late 11th [...] Read more.
This article investigates the origins and significance of images of griffins and sphinxes—hybrid creatures of Greco-Roman tradition—in the marginal decorations of the so-called “Neapolitan Ovid” (BNN ms. IV F 3), the first illuminated manuscript of the Metamorphoses, probably from the late 11th century. Their form and style suggest specific iconographic origins and links with the decorative motifs from Antiquity that circulated in artistic objects around Bari, the manuscript’s place of origin. Among the many figures that provide a pictorial response to the poem’s content, the presence of these griffins and sphinxes offers compelling evidence of the survival of ancient imagery; they also invite us to explore the relationship between image and text in the illuminated book. From this analysis, we can better understand the complex role of these hybrid figures in the manuscript. Their existence is testimony to the continuity of marginal decorative systems derived from Antiquity that are present in objects and were articulated through the Islamic and Byzantine formal vocabularies accessible in Puglia at the time. Full article
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18 pages, 14492 KiB  
Article
A Fountain of Fire: Idolatry, Alterity, and Ethnicity in Byzantine Book Illumination
by Giovanni Gasbarri
Arts 2023, 12(2), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts12020082 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 2090
Abstract
This article examines the visual representation of pagan idols in Byzantine book illumination and investigates how such images were employed to convey a sense of geographical or ethnic distance. The main focus of this study is a group of illuminated manuscripts containing two [...] Read more.
This article examines the visual representation of pagan idols in Byzantine book illumination and investigates how such images were employed to convey a sense of geographical or ethnic distance. The main focus of this study is a group of illuminated manuscripts containing two of the most popular texts in the Byzantine world: Barlaam and Ioasaph and the Alexander Romance. These manuscripts include numerous representations of statuary that Byzantine readers would have easily recognized as being associated with the religious practices and superstitions of distant and foreign populations, thereby reinforcing their own self-identification with “civilized” characters. Through a comparative analysis of manuscripts such as Athon. Iviron 463 (Barlaam and Ioasaph) and Venice, Istituto Ellenico cod. 5 (Alexander Romance), this article explores the variety of iconographic solutions adopted by Byzantine artists to enhance the “ethnographic” function of idol images. A close examination of these solutions sheds new light on how visual narratives contributed to the construction of notions of identity, otherness, and ethnicity in Byzantium. Full article
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