Byzantine Art

WHAT IS byzantine art?

The term “Byzantine art” originated from the Byzantine Empire, which was said to have initially developed from the Roman Empire. Classifying artworks as Byzantine art proved to be a bit tricky, as the Byzantine Empire and its artistry went on to exist for over a millennium.


The Byzantine art era, which spanned between 330 to 1453 A.D., existed as an incredibly important movement within art history.

early byzantine art

Early Byzantine art centered around Roman law as well as Greek and Roman culture so as to sustain a carefully controlled government.

middle byzantine art

The Middle Byzantine period, which was also referred to as the Macedonian Renaissance, was seen as a period of heightened stability and fortune.

latin occupation

Notable artworks and objects created during the Middle Byzantine period were destroyed and lost, while others were transported elsewhere.


This phase focused on the renovation and restoration of Orthodox churches that were destroyed during the Latin Occupation.


In 730 A.D., Emperor Leo III banned all religious images and initiated a movement dubbed “Iconoclasm”, which saw the destruction of all religious icons.

religious iconography

Subjects of a religious nature were encouraged over others, which led to religion being the predominant theme.


The art of mosaic work quickly became one of the primary characteristics that were used to identified Byzantine art.

stylized imagery

The use of elegant, floating figures and golden mosaic works highlighted the spirituality of religious subjects and essentially demonstrated their suitability in church settings.

carved ivory

These carved ivory pieces went on to inform many other movements, like the use of depth and space that was displayed in the Italian Renaissance.

illuminated manuscripts

Illuminated manuscripts referred to manuscripts that were accompanied by decoration in the form of miniature illustrations, initials, and marks in the borders.

byzantinE PAINTING

The subjects in Byzantine frescos were limited, as they only included key religious figures like Jesus Christ and central events from the Bible.


Borrowing from late Roman art, where portrait sculptures were made to be incredibly realistic, Byzantian sculpture pieces continued the production of this trend.

byzantine arCHITECTURE

One of the original influences in Byzantine architecture was the Greek cross. This emblem was used in the design of many Byzantine churches.


Christ Pantocrator  (circa 6th century A.D.)

The Hagia Sophia  (built in 537 A.D.)

Emperor Justinian Mosaic (between 546 – 556 A.D.)

legacy of byzantine art

The Byzantine art era was an incredibly important period of historical and artistic development, as it went on to influence the development of early Western art history. Despite coming to a close in 1453 when the Empire was captured by the Ottoman Turks, Byzantine art proved to be very influential.