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The Late Byzantine period (1261–1453) is marked by a paradoxical discrepancy between economic weakness and cultural strength. The apparent enigma can be resolved by recognizing that later Byzantine diplomatic strategies, despite or because of diminishing political advantage, relied on an increasingly desirable cultural and artistic heritage. This book reassesses the role of the visual arts in this era by examining the imperial image and the gift as reconceived in the final two centuries of the Byzantine Empire. In particular it traces a series of luxury objects created specifically for diplomatic exchange with such courts as Genoa, Paris and Moscow alongside key examples of imperial imagery and ritual. By questioning how political decline refigured the visual culture of empire, Cecily J. Hilsdale offers a more nuanced and dynamic account of medieval cultural exchange that considers the temporal dimensions of power and the changing fates of empires.Read more
- Presents a critical analysis of the art of the later Byzantine period, which is often neglected in favour of the earlier Byzantine period
- Offers methodological innovation by approaching later Byzantine art through the lens of the gift
- Selects objects of analysis on a thematic rather than a material basis, thereby ranging from silk to manuscript to coins
Reviews & endorsements
"Cecily Hilsdale's important volume … is a major contribution to the field. She asks essential questions and provides a rich and deep context for consideration of later Byzantine art … Her discussion of objects leads to questions not otherwise asked and thus to new insights about the function of images. Almost every scholar interested in this period of Mediterranean history will come away with something for his or her own work."
The Medieval ReviewSee more reviews
"This is a very well-written book that makes excellent use of Byzantine sources. It is full of ideas and new interpretations of well-known Byzantine objects … For some years now, the author has been deeply engaged with this exciting topic in her various papers and this book, and I am sure that we can look forward to more on Byzantine art and diplomacy from her in the years to come."
Maria Vassilaki, Speculum
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- Date Published: December 2016
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781316631980
- length: 424 pages
- dimensions: 245 x 170 x 22 mm
- weight: 0.73kg
- contains: 99 b/w illus. 14 colour illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: the Imperial image as gift
Part I. Adventus: the Emperor and the City:
1. The imperial image and the end of exile
2. Imperial thanksgiving: the commemoration of the Byzantine restoration of Constantinople
3. Imperial instrumentality: the serially struck Palaiologan image
Part II. 'Atoms of Epicurus': the Imperial Image as a Gift in an Age of Decline:
4. Rhetoric as diplomacy: imperial word, image and presence
5. Wearing allegiances and the construction of a visual oikoumene
Conclusion: the ends of empire.
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