Byzantine Art in the West

Course Description: 

Byzantium, as the legitimate heir of the Roman Empire, was regarded in the western (Latin) territories of Europe as the most important cultural and artistic center. Hated and envied, its brilliant fruits were among the most desirable products and the ambivalent feelings never stopped towards it. Politicians, diplomats, ecclesiastics and artists, traveling between the Latin and Greek worlds or escaping from one to another, were the vehicles of this cultural impact. The migration of artistic products and masters transferred new ideas, iconography, style and qualities to the western countries. After 1204, conquered and looted, Constantinople’s treasures were spread allover the West, being more popular than ever before. Starting with the 14th century, although the Palaiologan Renaissance was as attractive as Byzantine art before, the Greek dominance became slowly balanced by Western influences detectable in Eastern art. The present course would cover some aspects of this astonishing cultural exchange, focusing on three geographic territories: first, different ways of direct connections with Byzantium will be presented in four outstanding artistic centers of Italy (Rome, Sicily, Venice and Genoa); second, the impact on Northern European art will be demonstrated in the Carolingian, Romanesque and Early Gothic period (mainly in the Lower Rhine region); finally, the problem of Byzantine influences will be discussed in the borderland of Eastern and Western cultures in Central Europe, especially in the Hungarian Kingdom.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students will be trained in description and interpretation of different kind of art works. Discussing different regions of medieval Europe, students will learn the geography of these territories, major achievements of medieval art and architecture from the Early Christian period to the Late Middle Ages, and selected elements of Christian iconography. Learning outcomes: ability to present a topic orally with usage of illustration material; ability to explore previously unknown areas of medieval studies.


A) It is required to follow the course and participate in the discussions during classes with the help of the weekly readings. PDF files will be available. 10%

B) Each student should choose a piece of art to be presented shortly (max. 15  minutes) during one of the classes (a list of topics will be distributed in the first week). 40 %

C) A written exam at the end of the course will help to recapitulate the basic lines of the course as well as the major pieces examined. 50 %


No specific art historical training is necessary.