Cover image for Byzantine art and architecture : an introduction
Byzantine art and architecture : an introduction
Rodley, Lyn, 1944-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge [England] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Physical Description:
xiv, 380 pages : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
N6250 .R59 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
N6250 .R59 1994 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



The Byzantine empire began with the transformation of the Roman empire initiated by the official acceptance of Christianity and the establishment of Constantinople as the capital city. It ended with the fall of that city to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. The art and architecture of the empire reflects its changing fortunes, the development of Christianity, and the cultural influences that affected it. This book offers a systematic introduction to the material culture of the Byzantine empire, from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries. It provides for the student or any other interested reader a compendium of material which is generally difficult to access: much of the writing on Byzantine art and architecture is not in English, and is published as articles in scholarly journals. The book sets out the subject in an accessible manner, describing and discussing by period the surviving material - and that which can be reconstructed from documentary sources - and exploring its social/historical context. The text is copiously illustrated by well over 400 halftones, plans and maps.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The surveys of Byzantine art in widest use in colleges have been D. Talbot Rice's out-of-date Art of the Byzantine Era (1963) and John Beckwith's eccentric Pelican volume Early Christian and Byzantine Art (CH, Apr'71). Unlike the latter, Rodley's book offers a thorough conspectus of Byzantine buildings but still separates these "shells" from their content--not only their mosaics and frescoes but the ceremonial paraphernalia that animated them. All these are rigorously segregated by medium in subsections within chapters labeled with the names of dynasties, as if artistic changes neatly followed political guidelines. Heavy on facts and light on interpretation, this overview ignores the transformations that have overtaken art history in the last 25 years. Interdisciplinary (not to speak of theoretical) advances in our understanding are postponed to a coda on "approaches to the study of Byzantine art and architecture." What we have is a pervasive concern with the "origins" of forms, as if their genealogy were more important than their functions or the responses they evoked. The book is plagued by typos: technical terms like "filoque" are misspelled in both the text and the glossary; a major monument is dated 867 in the text and 967 in the caption. Finally, one wonders whether the publisher believes that the uninitiated can learn to appreciate Byzantine art from a book that lacks a single color plate. One undergraduate's reaction: "Clear, but boring." If this were the only problem, the book would be a replacement for Rice and Beckwith. Academic libraries, undergraduates, and general readers should approach with caution. A. Cutler; Pennsylvania State University, University Park Campus

Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
1 The early Christian period
2 The sixth century
3 The dark age and Iconoclasm
4 The Macedonian dynasty
5 The Comnene dynasty
6 The Latin occupation of Constantinople
7 The Palaiologan period
8 Approaches to the study of Byzantine art and architecture
Select Bibliography
Sources of plans
Sources of photographs