Post-Byzantine Cretan Icon Painting: Demand and Supply Revisited

Lymberopoulou, Angeliki (2023). Post-Byzantine Cretan Icon Painting: Demand and Supply Revisited. Arts, 12(4), article no. 139.



Since Manolis Chatzidakis’s pivotal publications on post-Byzantine Cretan icon painting in the 1970s, research in the field is, by now, very well established. In turn, these studies have demonstrated the contribution of Venetian Crete’s artistic production to European culture. Despite Giorgio Vasari’s condemnations of the ‘Greek style’, Byzantine icons remained popular in Renaissance Europe among Western patrons. Research on Venetian Crete has greatly benefitted from the survival of its archives, presently housed in Venice (Archivio di Stato di Venezia), an incredibly rich and invaluable source of information. One of the best-known published and referenced documents from these archives, supporting the wider popularity and dissemination of Cretan icons, is a contract offered to three Cretan painters dated 4 July 1499 concerning the production and delivery of 700 icons of the Virgin in just 42 days, by 15 August 1499, the day of the feast of the Dormition of the Virgin. This paper revisits the information the famous contract provides with the aim to scrutinise it further.

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