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Epigram, Art, and Devotion in Later Byzantium


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  • Date Published: July 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107151512

£ 119.00

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About the Authors
  • This book explores the nexus of art, personal piety, and self-representation in the last centuries of Byzantium. Spanning the period from around 1100 to around 1450, it focuses upon the evidence of verse inscriptions, or epigrams, on works of art. Epigrammatic poetry, Professor Drpić argues, constitutes a critical - if largely neglected - source for reconstructing aesthetic and socio-cultural discourses that informed the making, use, and perception of art in the Byzantine world. Bringing together art-historical and literary modes of analysis, the book examines epigrams and other related texts alongside an array of objects, including icons, reliquaries, ecclesiastical textiles, mosaics, and entire church buildings. By attending to such diverse topics as devotional self-fashioning, the aesthetics of adornment, sacred giving, and the erotics of the icon, this study offers a penetrating and highly original account of Byzantine art and its place in Byzantine society and religious life.

    • Situated at the convergence of art history, epigraphy and literary studies, while intervening in several adjacent disciplines, including social history, religious studies and material culture studies
    • Examines an array of monuments and artifacts, from church buildings to icons and icon veils, reliquaries, liturgical vessels and textiles, crosses, biblical codices, mosaics and frescoes
    • Incorporates translations of numerous epigrams, many of which have never been rendered or discussed in English or in any other modern language
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    • Co-winner, 2017 Runciman Book Award, The Anglo-Hellenic League

    Reviews & endorsements

    'In this engaging and beautifully produced book, Drpić investigates the relationship between epigrammatic poetry and art in Byzantium, with a particular emphasis on patronage and personal devotional piety. … an impressive achievement. Drpić's clarity and elegance of prose, confident grasp of the material, careful use of theoretical frameworks, encyclopedic knowledge of the bibliography, deep knowledge of the nuances of Byzantine Greek, and uncanny ability to see things that the rest of us have missed, all make this an exemplary study, useful to both students and scholars in Byzantine studies and beyond. After finishing Drpić's book, one cannot help but feel very optimistic about the future of the field.' Vasileios Marinis, Byzantinische Zeitschrift

    'This publication, which is based on the author's Ph.D. thesis, marks a new level of intellectual engagement with epigrams written for donors who commissioned icons or new precious metal covers for older icons. … This is an important and very substantial book exploring the framing of Byzantine art by texts, and it offers some good insights into possible links between words and images.' Robin Cormack, The Burlington Magazine

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107151512
    • length: 512 pages
    • dimensions: 255 x 182 x 30 mm
    • weight: 1.21kg
    • contains: 104 b/w illus. 16 colour illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. From composition to performance: epigrams in context
    2. The patron's 'I'
    3. Kosmos
    4. Golden words
    5. Devotional gifts
    6. The erotics of devotion
    7. Image of the Beloved

  • Author

    Ivan Drpić, University of Washington
    Ivan Drpić is Assistant Professor of Byzantine and Western Medieval Art History at the University of Washington. His articles have appeared in Byzantinische Zeitschrift, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Speculum, Word and Image, and Zograf. His research interests include the nexus of aesthetics, anthropology, and religion; the relationship between the verbal and the visual; the materiality and agency of art; and the cultural interactions between Byzantium and the Slavic world.


    • Co-winner, 2017 Runciman Book Award, The Anglo-Hellenic League
    • Winner, 2019 Karen Gould Prize in Art History, The Medieval Academy of America

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