The Iconography Guild of Theodosia trekked off to the National Gallery of Art on Feb. 8th to visit the National Gallery of Art's Byzantium exhibit. Those of us who trudged from Union Station in the bitter cold were rewarded upon our arrival at NGA to a wonderful albeit short collection (about 170 pieces) of never-before seen art objects outside Greece. Our tour guide, Dr. Eric Denker, was more than knowledgeable. He was an enthusiastic speaker who zeroed in on points of particular interest to our Guild: icons. The tour started with an historic overview of Byzantium through its conclusion. However, the collection was not arranged chronologically. It was divided into 5 parts: Ancient life (sculptures), spiritual life, (icons, mosaics, embroideries), pleasures of life (jewelry, ceramics), intellectual life (manuscripts) and finally, crosscurrents of the arts (results of fall of Ottoman empire on the arts). So, one could find early pieces placed at the end of the gallery and vice versa.
At one point, Mat. Jo, Greg and I stood before a triptych painted around the 13th century. It was incredibly preserved. So much so, that we believed it was restored! "Oh, yes, definitely, it had to be", so we decided. But Dr. Denker said, "Never... ever!" It was a portable, small triptych which was probably kept shut when not used for prayer time which helped protect it over the years. Additionally, the icon was written using reversed highlights on one or two images. That was an "Aha" moment indeed.
If you were unable to attend the tour, please do so before it closes on March 3rd when it returns to Greece. There is a wonderful bookstore and a great cafeteria as well to refresh yourself. Please go to the website to familiarize yourself with this wonderful exhibit.
www.nga.gov Then, click on Byzantium exhibit.
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