The Icons of Their Bodies: Saints and Their Images in Byzantium by Henry MaguireThe Icons of Their Bodies: Saints and Their Images in Byzantium by Henry Maguire

The Icons of Their Bodies: Saints and Their Images in Byzantium

byHenry Maguire

Paperback | May 28, 2000

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The Byzantines surrounded themselves with their saints, invisible but constant companions, who were made visible by dreams, visions, and art. The composition and presentation of this imagined gallery followed a logical structure, a construct that was itself a collective work of art created by Byzantine society. The purpose of this book is to analyze the logic of the saint's image in Byzantium, both in portraits and in narrative scenes. Here Henry Maguire argues that the Byzantines gave to their images differing formal characteristics of movement, modeling, depth, and differentiation, according to the tasks that the icons were called upon to perform in the all-important business of communication between the visible and the invisible worlds.


The book draws extensively on sources that have been relatively little utilized by art historians. It considers both domestic and ecclesiastical artifacts, showing how the former raised the problem of access by lay men and women to the supernatural and fueled the debates concerning the role of images in the Christian cult. Special attention is paid to the poems inscribed by the Byzantines upon their icons, and to the written lives of their saints, texts that offer the most direct and vivid insight into the everyday experience of art in Byzantium. The overall purpose of the book is to provide a new view of Byzantine art, one that integrates formal analysis with both theology and social history.

Henry Maguire is Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. From 1991 to 1996 he served as Director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks. His books include Art and Eloquence in Byzantium (Princeton), and he was a contributor to The Glory of Byzantium.
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Title:The Icons of Their Bodies: Saints and Their Images in ByzantiumFormat:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 10 × 7.5 × 0.68 inPublished:May 28, 2000Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691050074

ISBN - 13:9780691050072

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Table of Contents

List of Figures vii

Preface xvii

Introduction 3

1. Likeness and Definition 5

2. Corporality and Immateriality 48

3. Naming and Individuality 100

4. Detail and Deficiency 146

Conclusion 195

Abbreviations 201

Notes 202

Chapter Bibliographies 210

Saints' Lives in Translation 214

Index 215

From Our Editors

Seen through dreams, visions and art, the Byzantines surrounded themselves with their saints, invisible, enduring companions. This imagined gallery's composition and presentation followed a logical structure, a collective artistic construct created by Byzantine society. Henry Maguire examines the logic of the saint's image in Byzantium in portraits and narrative scenes. The Icons of Their Bodies: Saints and Their Images in Byzantium reveals how Byzantines gave their images different formal characteristics of movement, modeling, depth and differentiation, according to the role the icons were to play in communicating between the physical and spiritual world. 

Editorial Reviews

"Eunice Maguire and Henry Maguire bring to their project a long and learned experience of Byzantium. From texts to textiles, no one in the field has a greater depth of familiarity with such a range of cultural artifacts. By putting the 'margins' of traditional art--architectural ornament, ceramics, 'minor' arts, and the like--at the center of their study, the authors reveal the imaginative and often subversive power of Byzantine artistic imagination."--Choice