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By André Grabar

André Nicolaevitch Grabar, Byzantine portray: ancient and significant research, Translated through Stuart Gilbert
© via variants d'Art Albert Skira, 1953.
Library of Congress Catalog Card quantity: 53-11064

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But this much is certain: that amongst the paintings previous to Byzantium it is the frescos of the Syrian hinterland that above all point the way to the Byzantine aesthetic under its most original aspects, though not under those which maintained the illusionist style of the first centuries of our era. For despite their early date these Dura frescos already show a break as at a later date Byzantine monumental pEuntings were to do \vith two basic principles of illusionist painting: fidehty to the traditional suavity of classical art, and a will to imitate what the eye perceives.

Painting giving the semblance of reality) during the imperial epoch. Actually, however, the art which flourished in the turies of the Empire affected only the more first cen- Byzantine painting, classical types of hills and graceful edifices, their and the facile charm of their draped figures. If we wish to trace the sources of the most powerful and original Byzantine creations (mosaics, frescos, icons) we must turn again to the murals at Dura. For the processions of sacrificial priests in the Temple of the Palmyrene Gods were beyond all doubt prototypes of the processions in Sant'Apollinare Nuovo and San Vitale.

The climax of this classicizing art (so far as the miniature was concerned) was reached in the tenth century, and it was probably then that a parallel movement, in the art of non-religious carvings on ivory coffers, came to the fore. However, the antique style resuscitated in the ivories had nothing in common with the classicizing art of the contemporary miniature. In mural — —the Byzantine major art this reversion to a classical style did not make itself felt effectively until towards the second half of the eleventh century (at Daphni).

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