Can you recommend a place, museum where icons are exhibited that can be dated before the iconoclasm? [...]

Daniel Tamas


[...] It seemed to me that the destroyers of icons did a very accturate and far-reaching work, but maybe during your research of the East you have met some exceptions where these holy pictures were saved.

‘Icons before iconoclasm’ are preserved largely in two places, far away from Constantinople: the Monastery of Saint Catherine in the Sinai (icons of Christ and of the Theotokos) and in Rome (several icons, frescoes in Santa Maria Antiqua). These have been studied by Kurt Weitzmann and Hans Belting. The actual extent of damage inflicted by iconoclasts on works of art, as triumphantly reported in sources written by iconophiles long after the events, is much debated in scholarship. It only took place during the second phase of iconoclasm (815-843). And after the restoration of icon veneration, it took 17 years until we hear that the aniconic decoration in the apse of Hagia Sophia was replaced by the mosaic of the Holy Virgin and Child. It seems that the Byzantines were in no hurry to return to iconic representations.

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