Late Antique and Byzantine Art at the MET

Late Antique and Byzantine Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a large collection of medieval and Byzantine art in its exhibition entitled Medieval Art and The Cloisters.  Byzantine art can be found in the main building, in Galleries 300, 301, 302 and 303.

 

Main Building

More than fourteen hundred objects on view in the Main Building allow visitors to trace the history of medieval and Byzantine Art, from their roots in Celtic and late Roman art to the sumptuous objects of late medieval courts and the ecclesiastical riches of Late Byzantium and its eastern neighbors. The collection boasts an abundance of works from Late Antiquity and the Early Byzantine periods. The renowned Second Cyprus Treasure, with its plates representing the life of the biblical King David, is one of several silver and gold treasures on view. Byzantine Egypt is particularly well represented by an impressive collection of textiles as well as architectural fragments and tomb monuments from the Museum's early twentieth-century excavations at Bawit and Saqqara. An extensive collection of early medieval art, which comprises the jewelry of Anglo-Saxons, Franks, and Visigoths among other peoples, highlights the artistic achievements of western Europe at the same moment.

An evocation of a Byzantine church sanctuary, replete with icons and a lectionary from the church of Hagia Sophia, makes plain the Museum's rich collection of art from the Greek East from 800–1500. The same period in the Latin West saw the emergence of the Church as the most important patron of the arts, and several galleries testify to the splendid holdings of western monasteries and churches. Relic containers, book covers, and a tabernacle are among the many noteworthy objects from the Museum's collection of enamels by Limoges goldsmiths. A set of works from eleventh- and twelfth-century Spain includes ivory carvings and leaves from a Beatus manuscript. Masterworks of sculpture and stained glass from such key monuments as the royal abbey of Saint-Denis outside Paris, Notre-Dame in Paris, and the cathedral of Amiens evoke the great age of church building. Also on view is an array of ivories from the Gothic period, while luxury tableware and a rotating display of tapestries recall the world of late medieval aristocrats.

Gallery 300 - Byzantium (South Gallery)

Part of the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries, this space features the arts of Byzantium, the empire based in Constantinople that ruled from 330–1453 C.E. In addition to early liturgical and personal religious objects, the gallery exhibits secular art from later Byzantine centuries, including carved ivory caskets, stunning cloisonné enamels, and ceramics. Also on view are a monumental sarcophagus and gold glass from Rome, Judaic objects, Kievan Rus' enamels, and Armenian manuscripts.

Gallery 301 - Late Roman and Early Byzantine Secular Objects (North Gallery)

Part of the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries, this area exhibits late Roman and early Byzantine secular art alongside contemporaneous art from the Latin West. Highlights of the gallery include the magnificent set of silver David Plates, a floor mosaic with a personification of Ktisis (Generous Giving), delicate gold jewelry, and beautifully carved marble portrait busts. The gallery also displays domestic furnishings, lamps, and measuring devices. The distinctive jewelry produced in the emerging kingdoms of western Europe finds its place here, as does an intriguing hoard of gold and silver associated with the nomadic Avars.

Gallery 302 - Byzantine Egypt (Crypt Gallery)

Part of the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries, this intimate room carved from the space under the Museum's Great Stairs showcases the art of Byzantine Egypt (330–646 C.E.) Delicate gold jewelry, finely carved ivories, and exquisite gold-glass portraits attest to the wealth of the early Byzantine Empire's southernmost province. Textiles exhibited in rotation illustrate the vibrant colors and elaborate patterns found through the Byzantine world. Monumental stone carvings from the monasteries of Saqqara and Bawit as well as small-scale devotional and pilgrimage objects represent the art of the Christian community in Egypt.

Gallery 303 - Middle and Late Byzantine Objects (Apse Gallery)

Within the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries, the Apse Gallery exhibits religious works of art from the middle and late Byzantine periods. Visitors enter the gallery through an evocation of a templon, the barrier that separates the sanctuary of the Byzantine church from the congregation. On view are the exquisite Jaharis Lectionary; ivory, cloisonné enamel, and painted icons; crosses and cross reliquaries; and objects made for use in the church. Also showcased are ivories and metalwork created in the early Medieval West, under Carolingian and Ottonian rulers as well as the Vikings.

Exhibition

Highlights

David Plates

629–630

Avar Treasure
7th-8th century

Antioch Chalice

6th century

Attarouthi Treasure
6th-7th century

Woman with a Scroll
Late 4th–early 5th century

Constantine
4th century

Constans
4th century

Cyprus Treasure
7th century

Possibly Empress Flaccilla

c. 380–390

 Jaharis Lectionary

c. 1100

Medallions from an Icon Frame

c. 1100

Crucifixion and the Defeat of Hades
10th century

Reliquary of the True Cross 
Late 8th–early 9th century

Four Icons from a Pair of Doors

Early 15th century

Altar Cloth or Podea

Late 14th century

Plaques with Scenes from the Story of Joshua

10th century

Capital with Archangel Michael

c. 1250–1300

Fragment with Personifications of Victory and the Nile 

6th century

Fragment with Personifications of Victory and the Nile 

Probably Egypt, 6th century

Relief Frieze

6th century

Categories
Icons

Mosaics

Sculpture

Gold Glass

Lamps

Jewelry

Vessels

Coptic Textiles

Sasanian Silver

Ivory Caskets

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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016