- What’s On
This lecture focuses on Cyprus’s monumental wall paintings in Middle Ages, when the island was an independent kingdom governed by the the House of Lusignans, a Crusader family that hailed originally from Lusignan at Poitou in France. These murals now listed as UNESCO World’s Cultural Heritage monuments.
They appear form the late 12th century onwards. From 1185 into the 13th century, they demonstrate the Late-Comnenian influence emanating from the capital, Constantinople. Geo-political conditions during the 13th century, and the fall of Constantinople to the hands of the Crusaders from 1204 to 1261 and subsequent lack Constantinopolitan artistic production, encouraged a local, clearly Cypriot style to develop, the so-called “maniera cypria”. After the restoration of the empire in 1261 under the Paleologan dynasty, an official art once again emanated from the capital, and the Paleologan style became prevalent in Cyprus.
During the 14th and 15th centuries, the local Cypriot tradition became subject to Western influence. Until the end of the Lusignan reign in 1489, and even later in the period of Venetian rule (1489-1570/71), the coexistence of Latin authority and Greek Orthodox populace led to a powerfully syncretist production. Borrowings from the Italian Primitives were already appearing in the Cypriot art in the 14th century, before the arrival of Italian Humanism in the 15th and 16th centuries.
In his lecture, Dr Sophocles Sophocleous, Professor of Art History and Archaeology, President of the Centre of Natural and Cultural Heritage, argues that the so-called Italo-Byzantine style is in fact a manifestation of the Renaissance in Cyprus, and should should be seen as parallel to Paleologan painting in the last century of Byzantine Constantinople, before the conquest of 1453.
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