Saturday, January 17, 2009

Byzantium 330–1453 Exhibition

I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium

These lines of Yeats are quoted in the introduction to the current exhibition in the Royal Academy, London Byzantium 330–1453. This was probably the highlight of my visit to the city, a wonderful journey over 1,000 years of history with over 300 splendid objects displayed. These objects came from many parts of Europe, few if any from Turkey itself. This reflects the fact that most of the its treasures were looted at various stages, many by the Crusaders when they sacked the city in 1204.

A collection of wonderful icons from the monastery of St Catherine in Sinai were on display. These were among the highlights but in truth everywhere you looked there were objects which amazed. A striking icon of St Michael the Archangel from the thirteenth century now in Venice caught my eye. (Below from the exhibition website).

One thing which occurred to me was the similarity of many objects in the exhibition to objects from early Christian Ireland. The Ardagh and Derrynaflan chalices, psalters and gospel books, processional crosses would not have been out of place.

Having been to Florence last year this exhibition was in some ways the prequel - what led up to the Renaissance.

A video about the exhibition in the Guardian here.
Guardian review here.
Review in the Independent here.

I have sailed the seas back to Ireland (Well flew Ryanair - plane delayed in Stansted, no tea/coffee available on board, delays at passport control at Dublin)

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