Byzantium Rediscovered : Byzantine Revival in Europe and America
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The subject of this book is the Byzantine revival of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in architecture, fine art, the decorative arts and literature. Neglected and vilified for centuries, Byzantium came to exercise a potent influence on groups and individuals, who each interpreted its legacy in different ways and used it to promote different aims. Ludwig I and Ludwig II of Bavaria, and Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia retreated into Byzantine fantasy to express their ideal of divine kingship. French and German patriots claimed that the early medieval churches of southwest France and the Rhineland were directly inspired by Byzantine models. French High Catholics were attracted by the severe and hieratic figures in the mosaics at Ravenna, adapting them as symbols of authority, while at the other extreme the Symbolists responded to Byzantium's supposed decadence, and the scandalous Empress Theodora was made the subject of a sensational stage play. John Ruskin was seduced by the "voluptuous chastity" of St Mark's, Venice; William Morris, on the other hand, pressed Byzantium into the service of democracy and socialism. Architects turned to the Byzantine dome as an antidote to the ubiquitous Gothic. Artists and designers were attracted by the anti-naturalistic style of Byzantine ornament, and in America Louis Comfort Tiffany used Byzantine motifs and inspiration for purely secular ends. The early theorists of modernism also looked to Byzantium for inspiration, and the poet W.B. Yeats felt its otherworldly and mysterious power. The book is illustrated, not only with original Byzantine models and the works they inspired, but also with reproductions from the finely illustrated publications that played an important role in their own right in promoting Byzantium as an ideal.