Lectures/Mar 13, 2023

Women’s Impact: Byzantium in the Visual Culture of Medieval Eastern Europe

Women’s Impact: Byzantium in the Visual Culture of Medieval Eastern Europe lead image

Women’s Impact: Byzantium in the Visual Culture of Medieval Eastern Europe, lecture by Maria Alessia Rossi (Princeton University) and Alice Isabella Sullivan (Tufts University), University of British Columbia, March 22, 2023, 5:30 pm

Byzantium has long shaped the history and visual culture of medieval Eastern Europe, which have transformed in local contexts the rich legacy of the medieval Eastern Roman Empire before and after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. This lecture explores the history and artistic production of medieval Eastern Europe in relation to Byzantium through the lens of two notable women and their impact: Simonis, the daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Andronikos II (r. 1282–1328) and wife of the Serbian King Milutin (r. 1282–1321), and Maria Asanina Palaiologina of Mangup, the second wife of Stephen III of Moldavia (r. 1457–1504). These royal women played critical roles in establishing diplomatic connections and promoting artistic contacts between the Byzantine cultural sphere and the Serbian and Moldavian realms, respectively. The analysis of key objects and monuments – ranging from monumental building projects to mural cycles, textiles, manuscripts, and metalwork – reveals local adaptations of competing traditions and how interconnected the regions of the Balkans and the Carpathians were relative to Byzantium and to each other during and after the empire’s collapse. In addition, the lecture outlines current scholarly approaches to the study of the visual culture of medieval Eastern Europe, and engages with theoretical concerns and issues of terminology around the study of art and architecture in cross-cultural and transcultural contexts.

Maria Alessia Rossi (PhD, Courtauld Institute of Art) is an Art History Specialist at the Index of Medieval Art at Princeton University.

Alice Isabella Sullivan (PhD, University of Michigan) is Assistant Professor of Medieval Art and Architecture at Tufts University, specializing in the artistic production of Eastern Europe and the Byzantine-Slavic cultural spheres.

This lecture and visit is co-sponsored by the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies at Simon Fraser University, and the North of Byzantium initiative through the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture. Additional support is provided by the Centre for European Studies at the University of British Columbia.