Palaiologan art from regional Crete: Artistic decline or social progress?

Lymberopoulou, Angeliki (2019). Palaiologan art from regional Crete: Artistic decline or social progress? In: Late Byzantium Reconsidered The Arts of the Palaiologan Era in the Mediterranean (Mattiello, Andrea and Rossi, Maria Alessia eds.), Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), London and New York, pp. 132–155.

Abstract

The last phase of the Byzantine Empire, the Palaiologan era (1261-1453), is generally described in literature as a period of ‘decline’ primarily because of its major financial problems. Still, Palaiologan art offers some of the most stunning monumental examples. How did ‘decline’ facilitate the arts? The paper addresses this question by comparing well-known Palaiologan monumental art with little-known wall paintings from regional Crete. By the time the Palaiologans became rulers, the island was under Venetian domination; nevertheless the religious character of monumental Cretan art remained predominantly Byzantine. How do the donors who sponsored these edifices compare with their famous counterparts? Is size, quality and expense the ultimate measure of success or it is time that we re-evaluate decline from the lower and middle classes’ perspective that the turbulent Palaiologan times placed at history’s front line?

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