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Theodora, a Byzantine Mosaic of a powerful woman.

4 Mar
Theodora, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Theodora, Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

Art produced during the Byzantine Empire was marked by the development of a new aesthetic. One of the features was its abstract or anti-naturalistic character. If classical art was attempting to create representations that mimicked reality closely, Byzantine art abandoned this attempt in favour of a symbolic approach. Mosaic art flourished in the Byzantine Empire from the 6th to the 15th century. Church interiors were generally covered with golden mosaics. Brightly coloured, the mosaics were without any emotion and rather ceremonial and static. This mosaic shows the empress Theodora, a former actress and courtesan, who moved to Constantinople, where she meets Justinian, a powerful person and the nephew to the Emperor Justin. Justinian lobbied very hard to change the law that prohibited men of standing to wed a courtesan, and when emperor Justin dies in 527, Justinian ascended the throne and crowned Theodora his empress and co-ruler. A true love story.

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