Icon Basil of Caesarea, public domain photograph
Українська: Святий Василій Великий. Мозаїка в Київському соборі Святої Софиї, XI століття. Русский: Свт. Василий Великий. Мозаика, Киевский собор Святой Софии, XI в.
Mosaics dazzle in Christian buildings due to the luxurious splendour created by the gold tiles and the brilliance from the rich colour glass. The individual square shaped tiles are called tessarae (pl.) from the Greek meaning four-sided. The gold tessarae were made by sandwiching 24 carat gold leaf between two slabs of glass which were then melded together in the kiln. Often the mosaics on the walls and ceiling were ungrouted, unlike those on the ground, so as to maximise the penetration and reflection of light generated from the surface. Moreover, the dazzle factor was, and still is today, often compounded by laying the tesserae at slightly different angles to the surface so as to really catch light from all angles. Christian mosaic decorative cycles were often in highly closed spaces and so the flickering candle light used to light the area would have been an important aid in creating an all encompassing mystical atmosphere. When considered in architectural context, along with the chanting, incense and hypnotic ritual, or Mass, it is no surprise that the interiors of these churches were considered almost midway between Heaven and Earth.
Byzantine architectural and visual style was a style that existed with remarkable homogeneity within the Eastern Roman empire between the 6th century and until the capture of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453. The Byzantine style's presence extended to Greece. Through Venetians, who became Constantinople's archrivals, it spread to Italy, and Sicily, where it persisted almost intact through the 12th century and became a foundation for the Italian Renaissance. Preserved by the Eastern Orthodox church, the Byzantine style spread to eastern Europe, the Balkans, and particularly to Russia, where it remained, with little or no local modification, through the 17th century. Byzantine architecture and painting remained uniform in tradition rather than changed with time and personal expression. The result is a sophistication of style and spiritual expression not paralleled in Western art. As with all large Picryl collections, this one is made with the assistance of AI image recognition. It allows collections of sizes never seen before. We do our best to clean after AI as it is based solely on visual resemblance and we apologize if we missed a few images in the collection that do not belong to the Byzantine style.