Graphic reconstructions by Thekla Alexieva. Reminiscence of 20 ‘perished’ Constantinople statues Cover Image
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Памет за двадесетте „загинали“ константинополски статуи
Graphic reconstructions by Thekla Alexieva. Reminiscence of 20 ‘perished’ Constantinople statues

Author(s): Vesselina Vatchkova
Subject(s): Cultural history
Published by: Институт за изследване на изкуствата, Българска академия на науките

Summary/Abstract: The paper focuses on the problem of the extent to which the Byzantine ‘ekphrases’ could be used as a source not only to study the artistic taste and skill of the romaiois, but also to make a more general reconstruction of the Byzantine mentality. The study is based on Nicetas Choniates’s work Designis which attests the existence of 20 statues in Constantinople destroyed by the crusaders in the spring of 1204. The main questions to be answered are: 1) what were the criteria which Nicetas Choniates followed in choosing the objects of art he described; 2) can we rely on the extant antique statues in reconstructing the medieval ones or shall we better rely on the literary descriptions as a more reliable source; 3) were the statues, openly representing pagan gods, and scenes, which the Byzantines never tried, at least as late as the time of Choniates, to Christianize by allegorical or symbolic interpretation, thought of by the Byzantines as belonging to the profane sphere (profane aesthetics, profane city space etc.). in this connection, discussed is the problem of whether it is justifiable to construe some prerenaissance attitude of the Byzantines towards the antiquity and the antique heritage. The scope of the study, as outlined above, not only necessitated a detailed study of the literary descriptions found in the works of Choniates in the context of the specific mediaeval genre of “ekphrasis”, but also suggested an attempt at a graphic reconstruction of some of the statues (made by Thekla Alexieva) in order to create as vivid a representation of the originals as possible.

  • Issue Year: 2008
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 11-15
  • Page Count: 5