Greece, Hearth of Art and Culture after the Fall of Constantinople
From “Post-Byzantium: The Greek Renaissance
15th-18th Century Treasures from the Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens”
Edit. Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Athens 2002.
The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453 dealt Hellenism a severe blow. The focus and rallying point in so many ways, not only for the Greeks but also for the Orthodox Christian communities of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean, was lost, even at the symbolic level. For all these peoples the Queen of Cities, in the name of the Patriarch and through the Orthodox Church, was a "national" - in the widest sense of the word - and religious center. And as Sir Stephen Runciman has observed, "in the East national identity was usually considered a synonym of religion". All the peoples belonging to the flock of the Ecumenical Patriarchate declared themselves Graikoi (Greeks) or Romaioi (Romans - Rums). Centrifugal tendencies continued to be found, their consequences being dialectical: a tendency to escape was answered by a tendency to rally round the Patriarch, servitude by a constant yearning for liberty, and tradition by innovation.
The Ottoman Turks' conquest of the entire Balkan Peninsula had political costs for all peoples, paid for with bloodshed, material destruction, demographic change, social retardation and so on. These were offset, however, by the fact that the conquest largely reinstated the political unity and cohesion of Hellenism by abolishing the Prankish principalities in Greece.
An important phenomenon for Hellenism is ascertained in this period. Thanks to the political unification of the Orthodox world - definitive factors in which were on the one hand the role of the Church with its ideology, administrative network and code of conduct, and on the other the common Greek language, the shared traditions, cultural models and moral values -Hellenism became the epicentre of a wider political-religious sphere, playing a leading part in the cultural, the economic and, later, the political sector, much as it had done earlier, in Antiquity and Byzantium. Within this ambit, as has been said by John J. Yiannias, "the Byzantine tradition of government, thought, spirituality and artistic expression was only partly displaced by the new order". For precisely these reasons, as long ago as 1935 the Romanian historian N. lorga characterized the age after the Fall of Constantinople as "Byzance après Byzance" (Byzantium after Byzantium). Evident in every material or aesthetic testimony of this age is this rich Post-Byzantine Orthodox mix, which under the auspices of the Ecumenical Church constituted the essence of the Christian East, after the collapse of the Byzantine State.
Within this general historical and cultural context, the subject Greeks developed their activity not in a single but in a fragmented geographical and political space. Already from the thirteenth century, a large section of Hellenism was living in regions occupied by the Venetians (Crete, Ionian Islands, Aegean Islands, cities in the Peloponnese). The central space of Hellenism, Asia Minor and the Balkans, which was inhabited by a solid Greek population, was under Ottoman rule. On the other hand, the new historical circumstances consolidated expatriate Hellenism. The flourishing Greek communities in Venice, Trieste, Leghorn (Livorno), Vienna, the Danubian Principalities, Russia, Egypt and elsewhere composed a vibrant historical and cultural canvas.
Let us now look briefly at the historical and social substrate of this new reality, the arena of Hellenism's activity and of the development of culture and art.
West and East, with whatever these two concepts entail, penetrated the social and cultural reality of Hellenism in the period after the Fall of Constantinople. Rivalry yet transfusion, reaction yet percolation, conflict yet revitalizing contacts; depending on the place and the political situation, the intensity of these relations fluctuated. Let us look more specifically at the situation.
1. In the regions in the possession of Venice, particularly Crete, where the Serenissima was sovereign from the thirteenth century, circumstances changed in the fifteenth century. The acute hostility and continuous rebellions had abated. The multi-ethnic urban societies of Candia, Rethymnon and Chania were no longer the same as they had been in the thirteenth century. Contacts with the Western world were intense and innovative tendencies obvious in all sectors. Literature and drama were preparing the way for the heyday of the sixteenth century. In painting the floruit came earlier. Contacts with Constantinople were strong long before the Fall. Important painters, such as Nikolaos Philanthropinos, Emmanuel Ouranos, Andronikos Synadinos, members of the Apokaukos family, and others, were working in Crete and fertilizing their art with the best Palaeologan achievements.
The wall-paintings in Saint Anthony at Episkopi, and especially those at Sklaverochori, of the late fourteenth century, or those at Kapetaniana, of the early fifteenth century, confirm this relationship with the Byzantine capital. The monumental painting in the church of the Dormition of the Virgin at Sklaverochori is one of the focal points of infiltration of Constantinopolitan tradition in Crete.
In style, with their refined classicism, slender figures, restrained pathos and other traits, as well as in iconography, with the introduction of a host of iconographic types, these works constitute the womb from which Cretan painting was born. The so-called Cretan School came of age in the fifteenth century and was in its prime in the sixteenth, with the portable icon on Crete and with monumental painting in the large monastic centers of Meteora and Mount Athos.
As mentioned above, contacts with Venice and the West were likewise intense. Western artists were working in Crete, as is evident from the wall-paintings in the churches of Christ at Temenia, Saint Demetrios at Leivada and Saint Photis in the village of Aghioi Theodoroi, in the fourteenth century. There was perpetual osmosis. Slowly but surely the cities of Crete developed into important centers of commerce and art. We should remember that from archival research to date, over 120 painters have been identified in Candia, from the second half of the fifteenth century until 1520. The majority of them are of outstanding merit. Moving between Italian art of the quattrocento and the cinquecento, and the art of the Palaeologan dynasty, their output is distinguished by overt eclecticism. They received numerous commissions from Orthodox Christians and Catholics alike, since they were equally capable of painting alia maniera greca and alia maniera latino.
Angelos Akotantos was one of the most significant painters in the first half of the fifteenth century, associated in particular with the dependency (metochiori) of Mount Sinai in Candia - the church of Saint Catherine of the Sinaites - and with the hegumen of the Valsamonero monastery, the man of letters Jonah Palamas. Angelos' 0uvre is distinguished by his sensitive use of colour and his love of detail, while he also created new iconographic subjects (Cat. no. 2). His reputation lived on into the sixteenth century, and he was still dubbed pitore famosissimo in the seventeenth.
Andreas Ritzos, renowned painter of the second half of the fifteenth century, remained faithful to Byzantine tradition, with an impeccable technique, whether in the large icons of the Virgin of the Passion and the Dormition of the Virgin, or the icons in the Patmos monastery. He painted proficiently in the Italian manner too, as exemplified by the icon with the letters JHS (Jesus Hominum Salvator), in the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens (Cat. no. 7).
The fifteenth-century painter Nikolaos Tzafouris, a meticulous miniaturist, was also familiar with contemporary Italian works, as is apparent in the icon of the Virgin in the type of the Madre della Consolazione with Saint Francis, which is ascribed to him (Cat. no. 8), and in the exquisite Man of Sorrows, which too is in the exhibition (Cat. no. 9).
Andreas Pavias and Nikolaos Ritzos are two of the most important late fifteenth-century painters, of whom works have survived.
In the sixteenth century, the painting of Crete reached its pinnacle. Over 125 painters are identified in the archival sources of Candia, for the period between 1527 and 1630. In their workshops, they produced thousands of icons, for both Orthodox and Catholic clients.
Georgios Klontzas and Michael Damaskenos are two of the best-known icon-painters in Crete in the second half of the sixteenth century. Damaskenos was much sought after and numerous works by this prolific master have survived. Capable of working in different manners, he executed with equal facility outstanding works in flawless Byzantine style and works completely consistent with Italian art of his day. The icons of Christ Great High Priest (Cat. no. 14) and the Crucifixion of Saint Andrew (Cat. no. 13) are characteristic of his abilities.
The "bourgeois", cosmopolitan societies of Candia, Rethymnon and Chania were ideal ground for the emergence of artists who soon spread their wings beyond the confines of Crete. Antonios Vassilakis and primarily Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco) made their way to Venice and the latter to Rome and Spain. Indeed they transcended the frontiers of the Orthodox world and henceforth belonged to the West and its art.
Conversely, artists of the stature of Theophanis Strelitzas Bathas, who became master painters in Crete, brought their art to fulfillment in the major monastic centers of Meteora and Mount Athos.
The Cretan icon-painters who came after Damaskenos and Klontzas, such as the hiero-monk Jeremiah Palladas and Emmanuel Lambardos, ignored their predecessors' iconographic innovations and returned to models from the fifteenth and the early sixteenth century. Their technique is faultless - as in Lambardos' icon of the Lamentation (Cat. no. 17) -but there is a coldness and eclecticism in the choice of models. Even so, they too have left behind icons with pronounced Italian influences.
The Venetian-Turkish War, which began in 1645 and ended in 1669 with the capitulation of Candia, had a profound effect on the final phase of the Cretan School. Painters who had learnt their art in Crete dispersed to the Ionian Islands, the Cyclades and Venice.
With a thematic repertoire that draws on the works of earlier painters as well as Flemish and Italian prints, and with an excellent technique, they are the last in whom the experience and education that are the hallmark of the Cretan School can be recognized.
Philotheos Skoufos left Chania for Zante, as did Ilias Moskos from Rethymnon. Theodoros Poulakis was in Venice in 1644 and died in Corfu in 1692. The Tzanes brothers from Rethymnon went to Corfu and thence to Venice. Emmanuel Skordilis plied his skills mainly in the Aegean Islands. Works by the priest Victor circulated throughout Greece.
Let us pause at two notable painters of this generation.
Emmanuel Tzanes Bounialis, man of letters and priest from Rethymnon, was famed in his day for the wonderful workmanship of his icons, which are distinguished by superb technique in a linear manner, the absence of dramatic contrasts of light and shade, and the noble expressions of the figures.
Ilias Moskos is encountered in Zante for the first time in 1649, when he was contracted to teach icon-painting to Symeon Maroudas. His commanding presence on the island throughout the second half of the seventeenth century is affirmed by the archival sources and by the plethora of his works, in which a sound knowledge of tradition as well as of Flemish and Italian engravings is apparent.
2. The Ionian Islands were under Latin occupation for longer than any other part of Greece (1204-1797). The domination of the Venetians circa 1500 created a new status quo. Although the obligatory cohabitation of Venetians and locals, Catholics and Orthodox, created a milieu of syncretism and tolerance, dogmatic rivalry was sometimes intense and had an impact on religious art.
In architecture, the Heptanesian basilica was the predominant church type and baroque sculpture the predominant ornamental element.
In monumental painting, the wall-paintings in the katholikon of the Hodegetria monastery at Apolpena on Lefkada (Santa Maura), which are dated around 1450, constitute an exceptional starting point for Post-Byzantine art, on account of their unique High Gothic style. They influenced the wall-paintings in the monastery of Saint George at Skari on Lefkada, the Taxiarchis at Milapidia and the Virgin Phaneromeni at Kastro Aghiou Georgiou on Cephalonia. In the church of Saint Catherine at Karousades in Corfu, strong admixtures with Western Renaissance painting are ascertained. In the early eighteenth century, the first essential breach with the traditional iconographic order is observed in the churches of the Forty Saints at Perivoli and the Virgin Hodegetria at Strongyli on Corfu, with the copying of Flemish engravings. There wall-painting had already retreated gradually, to give way to large pictures, while Western subjects were infiltrating the iconography.
In icon-painting, the Cretan masters and their local pupils (F. Kallergis, N. Kallergis, S. Stentas, G. Kouloumbis, G. Gryparis and others) produced works in which the attainments of the Cretan School and approaches of Western art co-exist, with pronounced influences from Flemish engravings. New subjects were created, influenced by Western compositions (eucharistic, confessional, catechetic and so on).
In 1725 the knight Panayotis Doxaras painted the ceiling panels - the ourania - in the church of Saint Spyridon in Corfu. He also expounded and documented his theoretical views on art in his treatise "On Painting" (Περὶ ζωγραφίας), identifying with Veronese and essentially inaugurating the Heptanesian School.
His son, Nikolaos Doxaras, and fellow painters Nikolaos Koutouzis, Nikolaos Kantounis, Stephanos Pazigetis, Hieronymos Plakotos and others, drew their subjects from other Western sources as well, and contributed to the completion of this composite socio-artistic phenomenon of Heptanesian culture.
3. In the Ottoman-held regions of Central Greece and Asia Minor, despite the many problems of a subject nation, society at all levels began to adapt to the new conditions. In Constantinople the founders and scions of the great families, "the most noble archons of our nation", amassed fortunes and rose to prominence, through their participation in the economic and administrative machine. The Church played a significant national, administrative and economic role. The major monasteries, linked with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other Greek Orthodox Patriarchates, enjoyed privileges and became centers of artistic development.
In architecture, the Byzantine church types continued, modified to the peculiarities of each place. However, by the eighteenth century the timber-roofed or vaulted-roofed basilica seems to have prevailed, with morphological features influenced by Islam, such as the polychrome wooden ceiling, as well as by secular buildings.
In painting, though the works produced during the first century after the conquest are often mediocre, they are nevertheless proof of a vital presence in this sector too. From the extant wall-paintings it seems that there were local workshops covering the needs of regions, such as that of Kastoria. Works by the Kastoria workshop have been identified in Kastoria itself (Saint Athanasios of Mouzakis, Saint Nicholas of Eupraxia, Saint Nicholas Magaleiou, Saint Nicholas of Theologina, etc.), on Mount Athos (parekklesion in the gallery of the Protaton), at Meteora (monastery of the Transfiguration or Metamorphosis), in Serbia (Ochrid, Leskovac, Prilep), Skopje, Bulgaria, Romania and elsewhere. In the region of Epirus too, it seems that tradition continued in the wall-paintings in Saint George, Lapsista. Impressive for their number and quality are the historiated churches in Veroia, until 1525. In the church of the Virgin Chaviara (1497/8) as well as in other undated ensembles of wall-paintings, Palaeologan influences are apparent, but incorporated within an art that bears no relationship to the other Macedonian monuments.
Concurrently, individual artists were itinerant within a wide area, such as Xenos Digenis from the Peloponnese, who painted in Crete, Aetoloakarnania as well as Epirus, in a style of the Late Palaeologan period.
However, the event that set its seal on the art of the sixteenth century was the movement of Cretan painters to Meteora and Mount Athos. Foremost among them was Theophanis Strelitzas, known as Bathas, who trained in the artistic milieu of Herakleion and left Crete for the Greek Mainland. In 1527 he decorated with wall-paintings the katholikon of Saint Nicholas Anapausas at Meteora; ten years later, the katholikon of the Lavra monastery; and in 1545/6, with his son Symeon, the katholikon and the refectory of the Stavronikita monastery on Mount Athos. The sixteenth-century wall-paintings in a series of Athonite katholika (Koutloumoussiou monastery, refectory of Philotheou monastery, refectory of the Great Lavra) are attributed indirectly to Theophanis, while the katholikon in the Dionysiou monastery is attributed to the Cretan painter Zorzis. The latter also historiated the Dousikou monastery. Theophanis himself executed and supervised directly the wall-paintings in the monastery of the Transfiguration at Meteora, while the katholika of the Docheiariou and Iviron monasteries on the Holy Mountain are ascribed to painters of his circle. The art of Theophanis and the Cretans on Mount Athos and at Meteora, elaborated on Crete in the fifteenth century, continued the achievements of Palaeologan painting, with more organized compositions, a balanced rhythm, figures imbued with dignity and gravity. The dramatic element is reduced and the lyricism disappears, while the hieratic and the immaculate doctrinal composition emerge. The painters were familiar with Italian art, copied engravings or used specific paintings as models, as Theophanis did with a canvas by Bellini. These same characteristics are also ascertained in the ensembles of portable icons that modern research attributes to Theophanis (Lavra, Protaton, Stavronikita monasteries and elsewhere).
The artist Antonios, who decorated the katholikon of the Xenophontos monastery in 1544, continued a painting tradition in which the coarseness of the direct expression of the figure dominates, rather than the refined classicism of the Cretans.
From 1565 until 1600, a remarkably large number of wall-paintings were executed in Veroia and its environs. The principal and most important artist is known conventionally as Anonymous A, who painted the sanctuary of the church of Saint Nicholas of the Monk Anthimos.
The painting of 1598 in the Virgin Chaviara, and the work of the painter of the church of Saints Kerykos and loulita, with personal traits in the stylistic rendering of the figures, bear witness to the great wealth of a local artistic language.
In the same period in Epirus and Central Greece, the unknown painter of the first phase of the Philanthropinon monastery on the Island at loannina (1531/2), Frangos Katellanos, the Kontaris brothers Frangos and Georgios, as well as other eponymous and anonymous craftsmen, were elaborating painting systems that differ from the Cretan School not only in their disposition for the agitated and the dramatic, but also in the character of the painting as a whole.
The high quality of this School has only been appreciated in recent years.
The painters Onouphrios from Berati and Eustathios lakovou from Arta created compositions in which there is overt eclecticism. On the contrary, in the wall-paintings of Kastoria and Kozani, and those by late sixteenth-century painters, the linearity, the incipient dryness and the manners of artisans rather than artists are obvious in the rendering of the representations.
They herald the artistic tendencies of the seventeenth century. Great artists were now nonexistent, but the number of craftsmen painting competent works throughout Greece multiplied. Groups of painters from the villages of Western Macedonia, from Epirus, Agrafa, Nauplion and elsewhere produced works in which the expressive means are simplistic and the preference for the decorative is uppermost, but the technique is proficient.
The same traits are also ascertained in the icons that the groups painted in their venue of work. Their models confirm the multiple currents followed by these groups and by painters who were working singly. Some painters from Linotopi reproduced models of the local Epirote School, with a simple and comprehensible language. Other painters from the same place followed the painting trend of the Macedonian churches, cleaving to the anticlassical tradition of the Palaeologan School. And yet other Linotopians either remained faithful to old models or cultivated a particular eclecticism.
A combination of elements from sixteenth-century Cretan works and from the local Epirote School can be detected in the ceuvre of the priest loannis and his sons, in the decoration of the parekklesion of the Three Hierarchs in the Barlaam monastery. The Moschos brothers and loannis from Nauplion, whose painting tends more towards folk art, complete this brief classification, in a century that prepared the way for the painting "boom" of the next, the eighteenth century.
The Treaty of Carlowitz in 1669 and the socio-political circumstances in general favoured the production of new works of art. There was a proliferation of painters and handicraft in all forms enjoyed a heyday. Icons, wall-paintings, textiles and objects in the minor arts, ecclesiastical and secular, with an unimaginable wealth of artistic expression, were produced by Hellenism in all parts of the Ottoman Empire.
Ecclesiastical painting remained until the end of the century a profoundly traditional art, closely bound to the Orthodox Church and its liturgical traditions. However, depending on the region, these ties were tighter in some places and looser in others.
The fact that in this period there was evidently need of a single interpretative text or manual on the art of painting, the Hermeneia by Dionysios from Fourna, bears witness to a tendency towards persistence in tradition. On the other hand, the Greek Diaspora communities, the expanding printing and circulation of books and pamphlets addressed to the subject Greeks, the psychological need to align with fellow Christians in order to confront non-Christians, the obligatory cohabitation with Venetians or Westerners in large sections of the Greek-speaking lands, the vogue of Humanism that was related to ancient Greece, were all factors that tempered opposition to the West and fostered rapprochement.
The Hesychastic inquiries, prompted by theological disputes (Kollyvades, Anabaptists, etc.), were impressive. The hundreds of groups and individual painters did not have recourse to common iconographic models. Sources of their working drawings or anthivola are, variously, fifteenth-century Cretan icons, sixteenth-century wall-painting ensembles in the major monastic centers of Athos, Meteora and loannina, Palaeologan art and so on. Engravings with diverse Western subjects constituted an inexhaustible source of models. Greek and Balkan craftsmen decorated proskynetaria (pilgrim shrines), as apparent from the printed guide to the sacred places of the holy city of Jerusalem, the proskynetarion BM 8549 by Chrysanthos from Bursa (Cat. no. 54), kamarasi of the Holy Sepulchre, or in an icon of the Virgin and Child (T 2504) in the Byzantine and Christian Museum, dedicated to the Spilaiotissa monastery at Aristi, loannina, by the archon Konstantinos Roussis, which is an exact copy of an engraving by the Vienna-based Serb craftsman of many talents Christopher Zefar.
In stylistic trends too, variety is the keynote. On Mount Athos itself, Epirot painters such as Damaskenos produced works with bright colours, flat forms and a penchant for the ornate. At the same time, another trend on the Holy Mountain aimed at the conscious return to "the archetypes of the wonderful Manuel Panselinos...". Dionysios from Fourna was not alone in cultivating this style, with its clear emphasis on corporeality.
Wall-paintings of Kosmas from Lemnos in the parekklesion of Saint Demetrios in the katholikon of the Vatopedi monastery, those in the parekklesion of Koukouzelissa in the Lavra monastery, or those in the church of Saint John the Baptist (Prodromos) at Apozari in Kastoria and in Saint Nicholas at Moschopolis -which are ascribed to David the Selenitziotis- all follow the same style, in which the imitation of the Protaton is striking.
The same is true of the wall-paintings by the anonymous painter of the exonarthex of the katholikon of the Docheiariou monastery, of the Nea Panaghia at Thessaloniki, and, with differentiations, in the work of painters from Galatista in the Chalkidiki.
It seems that there was a remarkable floruit in the art of painting in Epirus. Scores of painters, mainly working in groups, historiated dozens of churches, decorated mansions and painted icons throughout the area of Northwest Greece, on Mount Athos, in Thessaly, even as far as the Peloponnese. Artists from Kalarrytes worked in the area of Meteora and Kalambaka, painting flat figures with flaccid expressionless faces. Painters from Soudena employed in Zagori produced highly decorative but expressively simplistic works. The numerous painters from Fortosi and Korytiani (Katsanochoria, Epirus) executed works of variable technical merit, in the wider region of loannina and Preveza. Sometimes the tall figures and vibrant colours point to the common starting points of the Epirot workshops, and sometimes the totally artless and dry faces indicate an incipient technical deterioration. The painters from Chioniades were the most numerous. Sixty-two names are known from wall-paintings in churches, murals in mansions and portable icons, which constitute a precious œuvre for knowledge of painting in Greece in the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth century.
However, the dominant group, in terms of the quality of painting, is that from Kapessovo, loannina. Eighteen names of painters are known from the century 1740-1840, when artists from here painted 23 churches in the wider area of loannina and Western Macedonia, and dozens of portable icons. Until the late eighteenth century, their work remained faithful to Orthodox tradition. In the early nineteenth century, however, "voluminous Baroque" invaded the interior of the church, in the form of the moulded stucco decoration that transforms the cohesive iconographic program into mere religious pictures. A kind of "secularization" is visible in the church overall. The painters Anastasios and loannis, with the sponsorship of wealthy, well-travelled merchants, bearers of the ideas of the Enlightenment, produced
works such as the decorations in the Rogovou monastery, in Saint Nicholas at Kapessovo, Saint Nicholas at Tsepelovo and Saint George at Negades, unique for the study of Post-Byzantine painting.
If to this long list of Epirot painters we add Panayotis, who historiated the Feneos monastery in the Corinthia, the previously mentioned David, the Epirots working on the Holy Mountain and dozens of other individual craftsmen, we can readily appreciate the tremendous wealth of painting that Epirotes produced in this period.
In Attica, Georgios Markou from Argos was able to display all his erudition, accomplished drawing and knowledge of Western art. In the spacious katholikon of the Phaneromeni monastery on Salamis he developed a large number of representations, making overtures to Western iconography and reproducing earlier Cretan models.
The Peloponnese was largely the preserve of expatriate Cretan painters until the eighteenth century. Then a series of painters from Zitouna, Stemnitsa and above all the Mani produced dozens of ensembles with naive narrations and physically ugly faces. In Crete the tradition of painting portable icons continued.
The most important painter in the first half of the eighteenth century was Georgios Kastro-phylax, whose art is distinguished by vivid colours and Ottoman motifs. Dominant painters in the second half of the century were loannis Kornaros, known on Mount Sinai and in centers in the East, and secondly Polychronis.
In the Aegean Islands, despite the commercial openings to West and East, ecclesiastical art remained basically conservative. Some painters were influenced by the Cretan tradition, as in the Cyclades, and others by the art of Northern Greece, as is the case with the Chiot Kyrillos Photeinos and his compatriots. The heyday of Chios is not fortuitous. It was at this time an important center of trade and manufacture of opulent oriental textiles. Stone sculpting and wood-carving flourished there too.
The island craftsmen often painted subjects from everyday life. Then their art is much fresher, more vital and original, with a charming naivety, as in the work by Deuterevon of Siphnos, who painted "Blind Eros among Sirens", in 1825.
Central Greece was, by virtue of its close relations with Epirus, a workplace of painters from there. We have already spoken of the Epirots who painted churches and monasteries in the area of Trikala. Local craftsmen were also active from quite early on, from Aghia, Tsaritsani, Valtos, Agrafa, Fourna, etc. The painters from the last village were influenced by the work of Dionysios, author of the Hermeneia.
4. Diaspora Hellenism made its own crucial contribution to culture and art in the entire period after the Fall.
Long before the Fall, men of letters and artists had gathered in Venice, the "second Byzantium" as it was dubbed by Bessarion, and contributed to the Renaissance. From 1498, when the Greek Orthodox community was formally instituted, the terms of domicile changed. The Greek community grew and prospered, and numbered 15,000 persons in 1580. The Serenissima Republic soon became the most important European center for Hellenic studies. Markos Moussouros was for many years literary editor in the Greek printing house of Aldus Manutius, as well as Professor of Greek at Padua and Venice. The nations greca flourished, vigorously defending the Orthodox dogma and its spiritual and artistic traditions. The Greeks decorated their church, Saint George, with their own devota. Venice became the permanent second home of Cretan painting and the collection of icons in the Hellenic Institute and in the church of Saint George bears witness to this. In parallel, refugees found a haven here and wealthy merchants maintained schools in the Ottoman-held regions, until the pothoumeno - as Kosmas the Aetolian called the longed-for freedom -came. There was a school of Greek and Latin letters in Venice itself, founded by the Confraternity in 1593. Later, in 1655, the Flangineion College began to operate. The Greek printing houses published books by the hundreds, religious and popular, for the subject Greeks. This bourgeois and cosmopolitan society, in which there was a veritable explosion of artistic output, produced some of the most important genres not only of painting but also of wood-carving, silverwork, embroidery and so on. And the other Greek communities in Italy were prospering too, hosting men of letters and artists and contributing to the nation's struggle.
The Greek community of Naples struggled valiantly against the Catholic Archbishopric, while that of Genoa was mainly composed of merchants and ship-owners. The community in Ancona like that of Pisa helped the freedom-fighters in the War of Independence.
The University of Padua contributed substantially to education in the Ionian Islands, since the majority of young men from there studied in this foundation, many of them with distinction.
After Venice, however, the communities of Trieste and Leghorn played a seminal role in Greek affairs. The religious disputes of the eighteenth century and the commercial importance of Trieste made it a pole of attraction for Greeks even from Venice. Its role continued to increase during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Religious problems also beset the Greek community in Leghorn. The wealthy Greeks there helped the Greek Struggle for Independence in every possible way. They founded a hospital, a poorhouse, and a school - the Hellenomouseion - with first-class teachers, and awarded scholarships for studies in Europe. To the church of the Holy Trinity of the Greek community in Leghorn, Empress Catherine II of Russia presented the exquisite Gospel books, the silver gilt paten, asteriskos and Communion chalice that are now in the Byzantine and Christian Museum, and which verify the relations between the Greeks and the Russian imperial court in the eighteenth century. In the Danubian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, during the seventeenth century, there was a Hellenic renaissance which, to paraphrase Iorga, continued Byzantium (Byzance après Byzance). In the seventeenth century, Serban Kantakouzinos founded the Greek "Brotherhood" of Bucharest and Konstantinos Brancoveanu reorganized the Greek printing press. Greeks and philhellenes, princes, merchants, typographers, literati and others created a favourable clime for the Greeks and prepared for the Greek War of Independence. It was to the Prince of Moldavia in the seventeenth century, Matthaios Basarabas that the Confraternity of the Greeks of Venice appealed for financial support for the church of Saint George, speaking to him of "our nation". The same prince presented to the Ecumenical Patriarchate a beautifully bound Gospel book, now in the Byzantine and Christian Museum (Cat. no. 30).
Paris, Budapest, Vienna, Pozen, and especially Russia were all places with thriving Greek Diaspora communities. Mariopol and Moscow, and above all Odessa, were the home of significant families of merchants and bankers, such as Rhodocanachis, Sturtzis, Maraslis and others.
In Christian Russia, Christian Byzantinism remained very much alive. People were baptized through the liturgy into the extremely complex world of Hellenistic poetry, patristic theology and biblical symbolism. This Byzantinism is visible in all the works of art, whether icons, textiles or objects in the minor arts.
I have left until last but by no means least in my review of Hellenism after the Fall, an area that did not belong to the Diaspora in the period we are dealing with. Centuries after their subjugation, Greek regions of Eastern Thrace, Bulgaria, Pontos and Asia Minor kept a thriving Hellenism, which influenced the local population to such a degree that in Bulgaria for instance, in the nineteenth century, anyone who did not speak Greek or embellish his speech with Greek phrases was, by definition, uneducated.
The Byzantine Hellenism of Cappadocia survived for nine centuries, until the uprooting in 1922, inextricably linked with the ancestral faith and losing only the Greek language. But the writing of the Turkish language with Greek characters, the famous karamanli, was an element of survival and adaptation in order to keep alive the most important things, the faith and the Greek consciousness. The karamanlides, renowned goldsmiths in Constantinople, fashioned intricate objects. Jewellery was an art that Greeks served and the creations of which they kept as heirlooms over the centuries.
Generally speaking, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries art basically followed the "cultural constants" of the Orthodox tradition. Despite subjugation, however, a whole society was moving along many commercial and spiritual roads. The achievements of West and East were grafted onto the artworks, from Baroque to Rococo, which transmuted into "Oriental Rococo", and from academic to folk art and vice-versa. The encyclopaedic spirit is ubiquitous.
Around the years of the Greek War of Independence, Neoclassicism or Greek Revival made its appearance, adding new elements to the art of the period. Slowly but surely the "Byzantinizing" society was waning and the "Neohellenic" was waxing. Art and culture followed the same path, but at their own pace. In the late nineteenth century, there was an attempted "revival" of Byzantine art by the Nazarene painters. Ludwig Thiersch, Spyridon Hadjiyannopoulos and others influenced religious painting directly, with works of varying quality, in which are imprinted the theology of the Western Church and a more secular painting style. But art and culture in modern Greece now followed new paths. It was not until years later that Photis Kontoglou, Spyros Papaloukas, Pantelis Zographos and others set sail again for Byzantium.
* A preliminary version of this text was published in the catalogue of the exhibition Cristiani d'Oriente, Spiritualità, Arte e Potere nell'Europa Post Byzantina, Milan 1999, pp. 76-85.
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