treated in Andre Grabar’s great work, Martyrium — recherches sur le culte des reliques et Vart chritien antique; and since my remarks are bound to dwell mainly . André Nicolaevitch Grabar (July 26, – October 3, ) was an historian of Romanesque La Sainte Face de Laon (); Martyrium (, ); La Peinture byzantine (); Byzantine Painting: Historical and Critical Study ( . Martyrium: Recherches sur le Culte des Reliques et l’Art Chretien Antique ( Variorum reprint) (English and French Edition) [Andre Grabar] on

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Grabar provides in his introduction a list of his larger published works: The articles are in many cases by-products of these larger studies, but by no means always. The studies of the Jewish sources of Early Christian art 61of Graeco-Oriental miniatures 62of thrones and of reliquaries open up related but independent fields of research. Grabar’s fifty years of intense intellectual activity have by no means been restricted to Early Christian and Byzantine art.

Of the ten groups into which the articles are distributed one is concerned with Oriental art and another with Medieval art in the West. Each group is preceded by a short introduction. Martyriumm regard to Oriental art M. Grabar explains that he parts company with Strzygowski and Millet in that he rejects the notion of a coherent Oriental tradition; he prefers to treat Oriental marrtyrium by provinces or by martyirum restricted traditions such as the Ommeyad and the Sassanid.

The first group of articles comes under the heading of Doctrine and Ideas.

André Grabar | Open Library

In presenting them M. Grabar recalls that for him it has always been a matter of fundamental importance that the historian of the arts should understand what artists and their patrons expected from art.

During the periods which have been his personal concern art was required above all to express the ‘irrational’: He qualifies this remark by adding ander Plotinus’s thought while anticipating did not inspire the ‘irrational’ art of the Middle Ages.

Nevertheless it provides the means of constructing a language in which to describe the nature and distinguish the categories of Byzantine art. The parallels which M. They show the Byzantine artist in seeking to express the intelligible subordinated not only forms but style to his purpose.

De gener atione luminaruni, PG 29, Relatively the sun kartyrium moon are greater than the stars. But what appears small from a distance, such as a yoke of oxen seen from the peak of a great mountain, appears large near at hand. However the sun and moon remain the same size from wherever they are observed.

The sense of the text is therefore that they are absolutely great. In art in order to express absolute greatness in terms grabxr relative greatness it was necessary to break the laws of vision either martytium giving disproportionate size to what was absolutely great or by using inverse perspective. The establishment of a firm connection between the notion of the intelligible and the style and forms used to express it is one of martyfium major services which M.

Grabar has rendered to the study of Byzantine art. It represents an important advance upon the studies of M. Gabriel Millet, whom M. In an appreciation published first in Byzantion 92M. Grabar pays tribute to his predecessor as one of those who had laid the foundations of Byzantine studies in France by collecting the necessary documents and by introducing to Byzantine archaeology the rigorous methods already used by classical archaeologists.


Millet’s study of Byzantine monuments was, for all the wealth of his knowledge of the Greek Fathers which is particularly evident in his study of the iconography of the Gospels, predominantly analytical. Grabar conceiving art in Spengler’s phrase as the expression of a culture, introduced a synthetical method.

For this it was necessary to situate Byzantine culture relative to Antiquity. Historians had long been aware that the relationship was one of continuity, but curiously the implications for Byzantine art were only slowly grasped. In spite of the contrary evidence of history, they assumed that art in the East as in the West had succumbed to the barbarian invasions.

He was also to explore the cultural relationship in a study of pagan survivals in Imperial cult.

Meanwhile it has become banal to see, for example, in the Childhood of Bacchus the model of the Madonna and Child. What was needed was to expound the relationship between cultural and artistic continuity.

Grabar did in his study V Empereur dans Van byzantin. Not only did the Christian emperors inherit and prolong the office and patronage of their pagan predecessors but the official representations of the emperor in art provided the models for a whole series of Christian subjects where Christ, as emperor of heaven, performed a celestial office analogous to that of the emperor on earth.

A number of articles in this collection deal with aspects of this theme. Grabar points out in his introduction to the group wndre articles on profane art how difficult it is to give an exact sense to this martyrkum in Byzantine art. On the one hand the emperor was a sacred person; on the other ‘neutral’ decorative schemes occur regularly in art whose subject is the Christian revelation. A subject like the Ascension of Alexander 23 had great importance for the Greeks in their death struggle against the Turks whom they likened to the Persians.

The Triumphal Games 21a liturgy in honour of the Emperor’s invincibility, were represented on a staircase in the church of Saint Sophia, Kiev and also — perhaps — on the staircase from the imperial apartments to the church of the Blachernes L’icono- clasme byzantin, Paris,p.

The close relationship between Church and Empire at Byzantium is more easily affirmed than defined. But even when full allowance is made for the interplay of personalities, it still seems that the nature of rgabar relationship grabr considerably in the course of centuries.

Grabar gives in his study of the Emperor an account of how these variations are reflected in official art. In the group of articles which comes under the heading of History he includes a more particular study of religious art and the Byzantine Empire at the time of the Macedonians.

He draws attention to the analogy between the doctrine of a ‘symphony’ between Church and Empire worked out by Photius in the Epana- goge and the harmonious disposition of the figures in Macedonian art. Religious and official art were fused to reflect the dream of a perfect theocracy, the image on earth of the celestial kingdom, realized at Byzantium once for all. In his introduction to this group of articles M.

Grabar now martjrium a certain reserve: One preliminary difficulty is perhaps to distinguish between those themes which reflect an ideal and those which express a reality. The harmony and perfection of the Empire remained an ideal which was realized perhaps only in the ceremonies of the court.

André Grabar

They are perhaps reflected in the archaisms which appear at this time in art. Grabar draws attention to the invention of the two themes of Christ Evergetes and Philanthropos under the Comnenes. There seems to have been in the last centuries of Byzantium a frequent recurrence to notions which, while they were attributed to the pre. Iconoclast emperors, were in fact relics of pre-Christian times. The subject is, indeed, as M. Grabar says, worthy of further development.


The pervasiveness of antique customs and models is apparent even in strictly religious art. In his major study of the architecture and iconography of the Martyrium M. Grabar showed msrtyrium the principle of continuity operates also with regard to works of art associated with the cult of relics. Contact between art and faith occurred more easily on the level of cult and liturgy than on that of speculative theology.

A definite though not invariable relationship exists between the function of liturgical objects and the themes used in their decorations. The two major themes of the articles grouped under the heading of cult and liturgy are thrones and reliquaries.

The ancre attributed in art during a certain period to martyrs derived from funeral cult. Grabar compares the throne of martyrs andrw that attributed to Christ the Apostles and before them to the inspired persons and deities of Antiquity Five articles are devoted to reliquariesand there is also included the longer study of the Jerusalem liturgical roll first published in Dumbarton Oaks Grqbar, VIII, martyium Grabar relates the illustrations not only to the liturgical text but also to contemporary programmes of monumental decoration.

It is, as far as I know, the only marturium presentation of an illuminated liturgical roll, a genre of manuscript which has not yet been made the subject of a general study. The section on Iconography is devoted to the exegesis of a wide variety of themes: Old Testament subjects at the service of Christianity, the Holy Women at the Tomb, a number of pictures and themes concerning the Virgin, Sunday, the Parousia, Silence, the Celestial Sea, the Portrait in Christian iconography, the Imago Clipeata and the iconographical scheme of Pentecost.

Grabar brings the martyriumm of continuity into evidence: Gragar presentation of M. Grabar’s Recueil is necessarily partial. It does not give sufficient attention to his profound knowledge of Byzantine theology, spirituality and liturgy, nor to the wide ranga of his acquaintance with the basic material of art history.

André Grabar – Wikipedia

It sets into relief rather the aspects of M. Grabar’s w7ork which have most interested me as his pupil. In personal contact with him what has always most impressed me is his flair for ‘reading’ a picture; this is the practical counterpart of his lifelong interest in the intelligible in art.

Bernhard Berenson had a particular gift for seizing and identifying the personality of a painter through his style — an intuitive process which was often difficult or impossible to explain in language or to justify objectively. Grabar’s ‘reading’ of pictures often seems intuitive too.

But the artist’s thought translates more readily into words than does the distinctiveness of his style. Grabar has elaborated his intuitions, controlling them and setting the artist’s meaning in a wider context, in the articles of this Recueil. But elaboration is a less swift process than intuition. Grabar always has a reserve stock of ideas. This makes him a generous and stimulating teacher, who, besides the fields of art history which he has worked himself, is always ready to open up new ones for his pupils to explore.