Nectar and Illusion: Nature in Byzantine Art and Literature

Paperback | March 29, 2016

byHenry Maguire

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Nature and Illusion is the first extended treatment of the portrayal of nature in Byzantine art and literature. In this richly illustrated study, Henry Maguire shows how the Byzantines embraced terrestrial creation in the decoration of their churches during the fifth to seventh centuries butthen adopted a much more cautious attitude toward the depiction of animals and plants in the middle ages, after the iconoclastic dispute of the eighth and ninth centuries. In the medieval period, the art of Byzantine churches became more anthropocentric and less accepting of natural images. Thedanger that the latter might be put to idolatrous use created a constant state of tension between worldliness, represented by nature, and otherworldliness, represented by the portrait icons of the saints. The book discusses the role of iconoclasm in affecting this fundamental change in Byzantine art, as both sides in the controversy accused the other of "worshipping the creature rather than the Creator." An important theme is the asymmetrical relationship between Byzantine art and literature withrespect to the portrayal of nature. A series of vivid texts described seasons, landscapes, gardens, and animals, but these were more sparingly illustrated in medieval art. Maguire concludes by discussing the abstraction of nature in the form of marble floors and revetments and with a considerationof the role of architectural backgrounds in medieval Byzantine art. Throughout Nature and Illusion, medieval Byzantine art is compared with that of Western Europe, where different conceptions of religious imagery allowed a closer engagement with nature.

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Nature and Illusion is the first extended treatment of the portrayal of nature in Byzantine art and literature. In this richly illustrated study, Henry Maguire shows how the Byzantines embraced terrestrial creation in the decoration of their churches during the fifth to seventh centuries butthen adopted a much more cautious attitude to...

Henry Maguire is Emeritus Professor of Art at Johns Hopkins University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:March 29, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190497106

ISBN - 13:9780190497101

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Table of Contents

List of IllustrationsPrefaceIntroduction1. Nature and Idoltry2. Nature and Rhetoric3. Nature and Metaphor4. Nature and Abstraction5. Nature and ArchitectureConclusionBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Nectar and Illusion provides a window into a little discussed aspect of the Byzantine world-the world of nature-into which Henry Maguire once again brings to bear his broad experience acquired through a long and productive career. His keen ability to single out and analyze revealing aspectsof the literary heritage in relation to visual and material culture is unmatched in the field." --Carolyn L. Connor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill