Reference Entry

Byzantine blossom

Jeffrey West

in Oxford Art Online


Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T012839

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[Ger. Byzantinische Blüthenblatt]

Term used to describe a wide range of ‘floral’ motifs prominent in Western art from the 11th century to the end of the 12th. The German term was first used to describe generically similar motifs that appear in 10th-century Byzantine art, for example in the Hippiatrika Codex (Berlin, Preuss. Staatsbib. Kultbes., cod. Phillipps 1538, fol. 39v). The early 12th-century reference by Theophilus to ‘folia graeca’ may refer to Byzantine ‘leaf-flowers’ although the term is not documented in other sources. The variation of the constituent leaves is common to both Eastern and Western ornaments. Unlike the rosette, the leaves typically rise from the junction of the flower and stem. Their origins may lie in the Classical palmette, although Sasanian ornaments provide the immediate models for the Byzantine flowers. Whereas in Byzantine art the flowers are conservative in form and detail, Western blossoms are characteristically individualized. In the decorated headpieces of Byzantine manuscripts (see above), the flowers occupy the centres and interstitial spaces of series of delicately painted roundels. In both Middle Byzantine metalwork and Western art the flowers are used as the decorative terminals of running scrollwork....

Reference Entry.  357 words. 

Subjects: Architecture ; Art Techniques and Principles ; Byzantine and Medieval Art (500 CE to 1400)

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