The Art and Culture of Byzantium:
5th-15th centuries

Second floor, rooms 381, 381a, 382



The Byzantine collection in the Hermitage is one of the richest in the
world. Its finest part, consisting of silverware, comes from treasures
discovered for the most part in the Urals region and in the Ukraine. The
exhibition gives us a clear picture of the peculiar features of Byzantine
culture, which developed in the conditions of a growing feudalism, upon
the basis of the old traditions of antiquity, and under the influence of
ancient oriental culture.

Room 381 is given up entirely to early relics of Byzantine art, some
of which were found during excavations in the town of Chersonesus: see
the fifth and sixth century relief and marble capitals, and the case contain-
ing items of applied art. Special mention ought to be made of two fifth
century marble pieces-a representation, traditional in early Christian
art, of the Good Shepherd and a bronze polycandelon in the form of a
Byzantine basilica.

Room 381a. Antique motifs characteristic of early Byzantine art are
found on some sixth and seventh century silver utensils, for example, a
dish with the figures of the mythological characters, Meleager and
Atalanta, and a ewer decorated with figures of sea-nymphs (cabinet 3,
case 4). Utensils bearing representations of a cross or a Chi-Rho mono-
gram (cabinet 6), testify to the appearance in art of new tendencies con-
nected with the spread of Christianity. Occupying a prominent place
in the exhibition are some items made of ivory, in the working of
which Byzantine craftsmen reached a high degree of perfection. One of
the outstanding exhibits in the collection is a diptych (c. 500) representing
circus scenes, in which the tense moments of the contest between man
and beast are convincingly conveyed (cabinet 3). The mosaic painting
Angel is a characteristic example of Byzantine monumental art, speci-
mens of which have been preserved in only a very few cases.

Room 382 contains some interesting tenth to twelfth century caskets
embellished with carved ivories depicting venators, actors and musicians.
Of exceptional value are some twelfth to fourteenth century icons, in-
cluding St Gregory the Thaumaturgist, The Transfiguration (a painting),
St Theodore Slaying the Dragon (champleve and cloisonne enamel), and
Four Saints (miniature mosaic). Articles made of bronze, glass and wood,
fabrics, ceramics, gems, coins and medals all lend the Byzantine exhibi-
tion great diversity.






The Art and Culture of the Peoples of Central Asia
The Art and Culture of the Peoples of the Caucasus
The Art and Culture of Egypt
The Art and Culture of Babylon Assyria and Neighbouring Countries
The Art and Culture of Byzantium
The Art and Culture of the Countries of the Near and Middle East
The Art and Culture of India
The Art and Culture of China
The Art and Culture of Mongolia
The Art and Culture of Japan
The Art and Culture of Indonesia

- The Hermitage - The History of the Museum -
- The Hermitage - The Department of Russian Culture -
- The Hermitage - The Department of Prehistoric Culture -
- The Hermitage - The Department of the Art and Culture of the Peoples of the East -
- The Hermitage - The Department of the Art and Culture of Antiquity -
- The Hermitage - The Department of Western European Art -
- The Hermitage - The Numismatic Department -
- Floor Pans -