by Jessica WELDHEN
The Royal Academy of Arts and the Benaki Museum of Athens have got together to present the first major UK exhibition in over 50 years on Byzantine art, and the results are impressive. ‘Byzantium 330-1453’ has a mind-boggling array of over 300 objects, showing the long and diverse history of a heavily religious art movement. It is also interesting to see the influence it had on the Italian Renaissance movement.
There are lots of unusual and rare items such as micro-mosaics, illuminated manuscripts, gold and silver metalwork, ceramics and even items of clothing. Some of them have never been on display before. It’s best to visit the themed sections of the exhibition in chronological order, starting with the foundation of Constantinople by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great in 330 AD, and ending in 1453, when the city was captured by Ottoman forces.
Reviews have been positive. ‘The Independent’ praised it as “delightful and unmissable”, ‘This is London’ referred to it as “not an exhibition for the faint-hearted”, and ‘Time Out London’ described it as “lots of fantastic art, poor show”.
(25th October 2008 – 22nd March 2009, Royal Academy of Arts - Main Galleries, Piccadilly, London, UK)