In the image of Saint Luke: the artist in early Byzantium

Raynor, Rebecca Elizabeth (2013) In the image of Saint Luke: the artist in early Byzantium. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis discusses the role and place of artists who painted icons in Early Byzantium. To date, they have not been the focus of much academic attention. Instead, information about artists is spread across a range of discussions concerning Byzantium and the history of art. This thesis collates and interprets the empirical and theoretical evidence to concentrate on the people who produced religious portraits before Iconoclasm. In so doing, I seek to further our understanding of these individuals, and offer a more nuanced view of their socio-cultural context, their practices, and the images they painted.

This thesis is structured around two definitions of what the Early Byzantine artist could be: ideal and real. I start with the legend that St Luke painted portraits of Christ and the Virgin from life. Part One, ‘The Ideal Artist’, considers in turn: the legend of St Luke as an artist and its origins; Luke as an ideal artist; and two other ideal artists: God and the emperor. Part Two, ‘The Real Artist’, considers in turn: icons; literary and legislative texts; and finally the motivation for producing religious imagery before the eighth century.

The anonymity of artists working in the Early Byzantine period seems to have delayed scholarly interest in them. In this thesis, however, I consider their anonymity as crucial evidence for who artists were: believers. Christian faith in Byzantium is a recurrent theme in this thesis. I argue that artists practiced humility by not signing their work and painted icons to demonstrate, develop, and deepen their love for God. Further, I argue that artists who depicted Mary and Jesus as Mother and Child, as Luke had done, imitated the Evangelist and participated in his image.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Art History
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR > N5300 History > N5940 Medieval art > N6250 Byzantine art
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2013 14:44
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50

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