Renaissances in Byzantium and Byzantium in the Renaissance: the International Development of Ideas and Terminology in Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Europe
Traditional twentieth-century histories and art historical narratives point to a series of revivals in Byzantine art and literature in the ninth, twelfth and fourteenth centuries, thus representing Byzantine culture as a constant sequence of deaths and rebirths motivated by its internal ‘Classical’ component. Additionally, Byzantine art is often discussed as a source of Classical motifs adopted by the Italian Renaissance. This chapter argues that these two concepts are interconnected and were developed in order to ‘insert’ Byzantine art into mainstream art history, using the art of antiquity as a benchmark. It investigates how the very notion of ‘Byzantine renaissances’ was developed in the course of entanglements between the research narratives that emerged in Austrian, Russian, French and Balkan schools of art history. This study highlights the emergence of the ‘Byzantine renaissances’ paradigm as simultaneously accommodating and reconciling two antagonistic theoretical standpoints: that of the Oriental tendencies in the Byzantine style and that of Classical imagery and techniques in Byzantine art.