Treatises on Painting in Greek during the first half of the 18th century
The study Europeanisation on Paper: Treatises on painting in Greek in the first half of 18th century takes as primary concerns the formulation of treatises on painting and their role in cultural appropriation in the Eastern Orthodox visual tradition.
The first two sections are devoted to the perception of Europe in the Balkans during the first half of the 18th century in the aftermath of the Enlightenment. The impact of Europeanisation in the Balkans encompasses the reception of western Europe in Muslim Ottoman culture.
The role of treatises is assessed in the third section in terms of their position in the exchange between model and image. The prototypes for the hermeneia are identified and recognised as important sources of western influence. Their subsequent reception and interpretation by Balkan painters on an individual basis is analysed and found to be the area where their influence is most pronounced. Detailed discussion is given to distinguishing the transmission between visual models from that between text and image. The impact of western methods, subjects and taste transmitted in the texts into the Balkans illustrates how the two topics are related.
The third and fourth sections assess the significance of texts during the period of Dionysius of Fourna, whose treatise is regarded as a fundamental element in the tradition. Dionysius’ achievement is revised and his significance reassessed in relation to that of Panagiotes Doxaras and Christphor Zhepharovich, whose achievement is the subject of detailed analysis.
1. The hermeneias in 18th century and their circulation on the Balkans in 19th century.1. Parallelism in the European treatise tradition
Observations on the earliest known texts, the sections on painting in Vitruvius’ de Architectura and in Gaius Plinius Secundus Naturalis Historia serve to underline their importance in the development of the European treatise from the period of the Italian Renaissance. The format of medieval written texts is viewed as compilations of formulae on technical aspects of painting, accounting for their affinity with texts on alchemy. In considering these texts on painting prior to the Renaissance, attention is paid to the treatise of Presbyter Theophilus Schedula diversarum artium because of its impact in later post-Byzantine texts. The role of iconogrpahic manuals in Byzantium is viewed with retgrd to the eighth century Life of St. Pankratius of Taoromea and of the twelfth century manuscript of Ulpius/Elpius.
The manuscript known as the First Jerusalem Codex from 1566, the late sixteenth century Typikon of Nectarius and A Book on the Art of Painting by priest Daniel of 1674 are analysed in relation to their role in the Orthodox sphere. The editions and translations of Leonardo da Vincis’s Trattato della Pittura and of the Jesuit priest Andrea del Pozzo’s Perspective pictorum et architectarum of 1693 are considered in detail. The absence of hermeneia from the period prior to the eighteenth century is understood as reflecting a lack of demand. The intensified circulation of Orthodox texts on figurative art in Russia and in the Balkans evident from the eighteenth century is viewed as a response to the first printed texts in the west and serves to demonstrate the reciprocal nature of cultural exchange in the broadest European context. The three texts concerned with technical aspects of painting in the Balkans identified as the most prominent are On Painting by Panagiotes Doxaras of 1726, the Hermeneia on the Art of Icon-painting by Dionysius of Fourna completed in 1728 or 1730/33 and General Instructions or Hermeneia by Christophor Zhepharovich (1726-1741).
2. Texts on visual art and church painting in the Orthodox tradition. Hermeneia to the end of 19th century.
The attention of the author here is exclusively focused on the Eastern Orthodox sphere tracing in general the sources and chronology of the major examples and distinguishing between them. Taking the Didron/Durand publication of a hermeneia in 1845 as a starting point, the bibliography of known texts is addressed in a critical analysis of the historiography to define the parameters of this enquiry. The role of hermeneia in Europeanisation of Muslim and Christian sectors alike of Ottoman dominated territories evaluated. The identification of linguistic appropriation was identified as an effective method for tracing patterns of dissemination.
3. Hermeneia – problem of terms
The inadequacy of a single term employed indiscriminately to different forms is discussed. The etymological origin of ‘commentary’ is shown to have been substituted for a notion of a standard type. Dionysius’s use of the term Hermeneia Zographiskis in his title is seen to be initiating a particular genre. Compiled on Athos and acknowledging the visual imagery of Panselinos, it was perceived to have the authorisation of the Orthodox Church. Texts compiled specifically for the icon painter are differentiated from model books, treatises etc and the vocabulary used in titles is analysed comparatively. This genre is seen to develop in an increasingly secular dimension.
4. Texts on painting in Greek during the initial stages of Europeanisation in the Balkans.
The interest in western printed texts of diverse natures is seen to have developed equally in both Orthodox and Ottoman sectors. The appropriation of mainstream European culture through the impact of texts is seen to operate in two dimensions, which become the focus of this research. The role of manuscripts influenced by western treatises on painting, in which the technical content is emphasised and innovated, is substituted by the mid-century after the death of their propagators by the impact of printed visual material. Both spheres of influence reach their apogee in both denominational sectors by the third decade of the nineteenth century during the conducive period of the Tanzimat (Reform).
2. Europeanisation, westernisation or modernisation?1. Terminological problems and bibliographic review
The term Europeanisation is held to be the most appropriate for use in the Serbian and Balkan context on grounds that, as distinct from the Greek peninsular with more pronounced western European orientation, the principal centers of influence were situated in central Europe: the Hapsburg Empire and the Ukraine. The inadequacy of the term modernisation is seen to lie in its technological rather than cultural application and the related processes viewed as independent. The copious literature on the problem of terms is considered, with particular attention given to the one in the English language.
2. Europeanisation of the Ottoman Empire
The distinction between appropriation and assimilation is considered with reference to the bibliography of the subject in Ottoman culture. The contribution of Bulgarian scholarship is noted in the international dimension of twentieth century research in this field.
I Cultural development of Ottoman society 1718-17301. The ‘Tulip/Lyale’ period
In a comparative analysis of the significance of social and economic factors found in the bibliography in the particularly urban context of cultural development during the period of Ahmet III (1703-1730), the role of Greek merchants in the transmission of the Enlightenment is given particular attention.
1. France and Ottoman Europeanisation in the first half of 18th century
In evaluating relations between France and the Ottoman Empire from 1536 particular attention is given to the impact of French influence on Muslim culture, institutions and diplomacy. This is illustrated in a detailed account of the administration of the Grand Vizir Damad Ibrahim Pasha (1718-1730) focussing on his architectural projects and innovations to court and civic life. The interest in European culture in the Ottoman Empire is shown to parallel that of the French towards the Orient. With reference to the construction of mosques, it is argued that the ‘Tulip/Lyale’ style was not applied to traditional forms, giving rise to the observation that the nature of western influence was superficial and the extent of appropriation peripheral. The most important legacy of the ‘Tulip/Lyale’ period is found in the formulation of an awareness amongst the subjugated nations in the Ottoman Empire of a collective European identity founded on the common religious denomination of Christianity.
2. The Alafranga trend and style
As distinct from its derivation from the French language, the meaning of the term is shown to imply appropriation of western Europe in general, associated with notions of progress, together with eastern elements taken from Persian arts. In contrast to the ‘Tulip/Lyale’ phaenomenon, its manifestation in even the most remote areas of the Ottoman dominated territories is seen as a consequence of the diversity of its sources. The appropriation of motifs from the Baroque, Empire and Beidermeier styles is observed in fountain ornament and domestic interiors as well as in mosques and their role in the formation of decorative wall painting in the Balkans during the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries is considered. With its European dimension, the alafranga trend is seen to initiate a secular genre in the arts of the Ottoman state. In contrast, images on iconostases in churches on Athos and in Bulgaria are discussed as variants in the perception of mainstream European culture and examples of the cultural exchange between the Muslim Christian sectors
1. Ottoman arts in the first half of the 18th century
The caution perceived as characteristic of the response to foreign influence is analysed with reference to Ottoman temple building in the capital Istanbul and in the provinces, with attention given to the assimilation of the Rococo style in the ‘Tulip/Lyale’ period. The same analysis is applied to secular architecture with reference to the palaces in the capital. Particular attention is given to developments in domestic architecture and to its dissemination between provincial capitals on the routes: Adrianopolis, Philipopolis, Serdica, Belgrade (Edirne, Plovdiv, Sofia, Belgrade) and Serres, Thessaloniki, Ohrid, Tirana (Serres, Salonica, Ohrid, Tirana).
Europeanisation is also considered in Ottoman painting during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries which, despite the circumscribed sphere of Muslim representation, can be identified in the enriched thematic repertoire and in the use of linear perspective.
II Characteristics of Christian figurative arts in the Balkans in the first decades of 18th century1. Orthodox art in the first half of 18th century
The lack of a panoramic survey of Balkan art during the eighteenth century is noted and in a concise survey, the identification of two categories of painting contributes to the problematic issue of levels of production in terms of quality and attribution. The innovation found in the thematic and ornamental range derived from Italian and French sources is seen to be enriched by contact through the travels of merchants as well as icon-painters north of the Danube with Brankovianu and central European sources. The history of Orthodox print making is examined, focussing on the concept of Serbian Baroque and its interpretation in the historiography. The relations of Serbian masters with the Ukraine and Russia, with painting in Moldo-Wallachia, Romanian woodprints and the impact of Austria are considered. This survey gives rise to the observation that regionalism precludes uniformity and simultaneity, even! in the Muslim sector, in the territories of the Ottoman Empire.
2. General characteristics of figurative art in the Balkan areas where texts on Orthodox painting first make their appearance
2.1 Mount Athos
As the only area in the Balkans impervious to direct Catholic or Ottoman cultural influences, two fundamental tendencies among the masters on Mount Athos are identified as predominantly conservative and progressive. Painters from Epirus are found to be the most numerous amongst those working on the Holy Mountain and are the most instrumental in introducing techniques and ideas. The Athonite pattern is found in the north-west parts of present day Greece – Ioannina and Kostur and in Korcha, Albania. The intensified artistic activity in Salonika is seen in relation to its geographical proximity with Mount Athos.
2.2 Epirus and Western Macedonia
Icon-painters from Epirus and Macedonia are seen to have been active on Athos, in the Peloponese, in Thessaly and beyond the Danube. Evidence of their indivudual identity is to be found from the mid eighteenth century in the signatures of figures such as Nicolaos Choraphas and his two sons from the village of Lozetsi in the district of Ioannina and the Ioannes’ guild from the village of Ano Sudena in Greece, the Caludes family and the Tsetiris family from Grabovo, Albania. The latter master receives special attention in the light of new evidence concerning his activity on the Balkans and in Hungary.
As distinct from the view held by Mr. M. Chadzidakis of eighteenth century painting in Epirus as the perpetuation of classical Byzantine art, it is considered to reflect provincial medieval culture.
The interaction between masters from Epirus and Western Macedonia on the one hand and painting from Crete and the Paleologan archetypes of Mount Athos on the other is observed. The importance of masters Panagiotes from Ioannina and Ephstatius, along with others, is considered in their implementation of alafranga in their domestic decorative schemes of wall painting. The achievement of other professional guilds in metalwork, woodwork and furniture making and textiles is categorised as Ottoman-Christian Rococo.
3. The Greek Ionian islands
In considering the region’s distinctive characteristics up to the end of the French occupation in the early nineteenth century (1814) the impact of masters from Crete after the Ottoman domination of the island in 1669 is seen as significant in introducing appropriation from Italian and Flemish painting. Most of the Ionian painters are seen to be equally proficient in maniera italiana as in maniera graeca. It is argued that the coexistence of Italian and Byzantine painting results in the appearance of a hybrid Mediterranean island style in Orthodox art. The significance of patronage from a wealthy and Italian orientated social sector is evaluated. The view proposed by Chatzidakis that Venice was the source of iconographic development as found in the treatment of religious processions is challenged by tracing such compositions to sixteenth century painting in Romania.
III Writings on painting on the Balkans1. Texts on painting prior to the first half of 18th century
The emergence of the western practice of compiling texts on painting is found to highlight the essentially oral transmission of skills in the East prior to the early eighteenth century. Of pivotal significance in the development of texts on painting, the work of Dionysius of Fourna determines the tripartite structure of research into texts prior to, in parallel with and after Dionysius. Texts contemporary with Dionysius are the focus of attention and are considered in a separate and final chapter.
2. Texts on painting prior to Dionysius of Fourna
The anonymous Hermeneia of painting art, known as the First Jerusalem Codex, is the first text to be considered. Its attribution to shortly after 1566 is reviewed in the light of linguistic analysis revealing Italian lexical and technological appropriation placing its completion towards the middle of the seventeenth century. On the basis of the most conducive context for such cultural exchange, its composition is allocated to Crete. In addition, it is not considered unique in Orthodox tradition prior to Dionysius. In relation to the text known as the Typikon of Church and Wall-painting of the Serb Nectarius ascribed to the late sixteenth century, the issue of the author’s identity debated in Serbian literature is discussed. The text A Book on the Art of Icon-painting of Priest Daniel dated of 1674, also known as the Second Jerusalem Codex and unique in having an identified author and uncontestable date, is on account of the lack of a section on technical issues seen to underpin the notion that the sections on iconography and technique existed independently before the early eighteenth century. The manuscript is regarded as a valuable indicator of iconography and epigraphy from the mid seventeenth century and, as on previous occasions, acclaimed as the standard manual for Bulgarian painters until the third decade of the nineteenth century. Prior to Dionysius the Orthodox tradition of writing instructions concerning church painting is assessed as perpetuating the Byzantine canonical commentaries of Constantinopolitan aesthetics in Greek for the provinces. Nevertheless, lexical appropriation from Italian and Russian can be identified in Post-Byzantine texts.
2. Texts on painting during the time of Dionysius of Fourna
The Hermeneia of George I. Zographski, or album of the Zographski family (University of Skopije) of 1728 is of particular significance in the Orthodox tradition for being the first known translation in Slavonic of Dionysius’s Hermeneia. The attribution of Dionysius’ text to the period 1703-1733 advanced by Uspenski is challenged by the evidence of this translation, in which the translators transferred the date of 1728 from the Greek protograph. The Zographski translation is attributed to the end of the eighteenth century.
3. Texts on painting after Dionysius of Fourna
The noticeably intensified copying and translation of hermeneia, predominantly of Dionysius, during the first half of the nineteenth century in the Balkans demonstrates their increasing role to painters. Their importance in the dissemination of the Athonite tradition of Panselinos and of the hybrid post Byzantine Cretan tradition is discussed. The Hermeneia of Zachary Petrovich of 1838 (NAG 3003) is considered to be a translation of the texts of Dionysius and Christophor Zhepharovich. It is argued that is was completed in the monastery of the Archangel Michael in Racovitsa near Belgrade. M. Medich’s theory that Zachary Petrovich made use of The First Jerusalem Codex, the Hermeneia of the Zog!raphski Family and the Iconographical Manual of Varban Gurdev Kolarov is disproved on account of its (which MS – the last one. V.G. Kolarov’s) later date of 1863. The Hermeneia of Dicho Zograph (Dujčev Center N 412) is considered as a compilation of Priest Daniel’s text and of an as yet unidentified source and attributed here to 1835-1839. The second hermeneia of Dicho (National History Museum, Sofia) attributed to 1851 is also classified in this section. In assessing the pattern on a general level it is observed that from the middle of the eighteenth century, Dionysius’ text predominates in Balkan copies and translations and this is attributed to the status ascribed to it on account of its Athonite origin and because of its comprehensive and clear treatment of iconography and technique.
2. Hermeneia in Bulgaria
An unprecedented identification of hermeneia from the early nineteenth century in Bulgaria is presented. Particular attention is turned on the greatest number preserved in the Ivan Dujčev Research Center for Slavo-Byzantine Studies. The manuscript in Greek Gr.366 dated of 1799 is considered to be the oldest hermeneia in Bulgaria. In terms of their function as visual manuals for icon painters, the albums with sketches from Triavna and Bansko are included.
List of known hermeneia in Bulgaria:1. Zachari Petrovich – NAG, Sofia, Inv. N 3003
2. Athanas N. Karastojanov – RCSBS, Sofia, cat. N 27
3. Georgi Damianov – RCSBS, Sofia, cat. N 26
4. Christo Jovevich – Museum of Samokov
5. Vassil Zachariev (owner) – Central National Archive, Sofia
6. Lioubomir Galizov (owner) – Private collection
7. Album with sketches – RCSBS, cat. N 47
8. B. Dimitrov – Triavna Museum
9. A. Sharenkov owns a Hermenea from Dupnitsa
10. Maxim Ninov – Private collection
11. AIM 11
12. AIM 10
13. NAG – II 843
14. Gr. 366 – RCSBS
15. Gr. 408 – RCSBS
16. Gr. 381 – RCSBS
17. 1st Dicho Zograph - Cat. N 412, RCSBS
18. Ivan Karastoianov – Cat. N 27, RCSBS
19. 2nd Dicho Zograph – NHM, Sofia
20. Stavri K. Zograph - Gr. 113, NL, Sofia
21. Pano Venzekov – N 1347, NL, Sofia…
IV Texts on painting during the time of Dionysius of Fourna.Comparative analysis of the trends in Orthodox art in the Balkans during the first half of eighteenth century.
1. Hermeneia on icon-painting of Dionysius of Fourna
The chronology of Dionysius’ text is, as previously discussed in section III.2, shown to be revised in relation to the Slavonic translation bearing the date of 1728. The two parts on iconography and technique are described in detail and the sources examined. The assessment gives rise to observations on the composition of such manuscripts. The view held that the second section of the manuscript reflects a description of existing mural cycles in the monasteries of the Protaton and Vatopedi on Mount Athos is sustained, explaining the length of time of its completion. Dionysius’ contribution is to be recognised in the passages lifted from the First Jerusalem Codex for which there are no analogues in Athonite wall painting, episodes from the Old Testament being significant indicators. Xyngopulos’ view that the text was a determining agent in the perpetuation of the Athonite tradition during a period of transition is endorsed. The inhibition to innovation under Ottoman authority is seen to have made mandatory the use of old sources and recipes. In comparison to the Europeanisation of other codexes of the period, the appropriation of foreign German and Italian words for certain concepts and materials is found to be less pronounced. As a mural painter Dionysius is evaluated as derivative and the significance of his achievement is recognised in his influence as a theorist and writer evident half a century after the completion of his text and enhanced by the perceived endorsement of the Patriarchate and of the monastic authority of Mount Athos as counterpoint to innovation from western Catholic influence.
2. Panagiotes Doxaras (1662-1729)
The accounts of Panagiotes, and his son Nicolaos, in the Peloponese and Corfu preserved in the chronicle of the Doxaras family (Bibl. Marciana, Venice) are viewed as a response to both Orthodox and Catholic tastes and their achievement recognised as a measure of the integration of late seventeenth century Venetian culture. Panagiotes’ contribution to cultural exchange in the Balkans is due to the translations of Italian texts into Greek in the number of manuals he composed for his personal use and for instruction.
2.1 Panagiotes Doxaras’ role as translator
Panagiotes’ translations of Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattato Della Pittura in 1724 and of the treatises of Leon Battista Alberti, Andrea del Pozzo and Paolo Senery – (copies in the Bibliotheca Marciana, Venice and National Library, Athens) for instruction to his students marks the first comprehensive interpretation of the treatises of the Italian Renaissance in the Balkans. The juxtaposition of illustrations reflecting the characteristics of Orthodox art is noted.
2.2 Panagiotes Doxaras’ treatise On Painting
The only surviving manuscript in Athens consists of four sections and is considered to have inaugurated art criticism in Orthodox literature of the Balkans. Close examination of the four sections on painting, colour, composition; models from the Masters of the Italian Renaissance; receipts for oil painting and varnishes and lastly instructions for gilding demonstrates the distinction between the texts of Panagiotes and Dionysius. Panagiotes’ text is differentiated by the absence of a section on manual processes, on the basis that the penultimate two chapters concerned with varnishes and gilding were taken from another Orthodox text. This text is assessed as the most significant exponent of Europeanisation but the lack of evidence of its impact on painters’ practice places its importance at the level of theory.
3.Christophor Zepharovich (d.1753)
3.1 Zhepharovich – biography and related issues.
The notion that Zhepharovich was instructed by Panagiotes Doxaras on Zakinthos or Corfu is introduced into the discussion of Zhepharovich’s formation and supported by a revision of the evidence. The first ten pages of Zhepharovich’s General Instructions or Hermeneia contain a Greek translation of Leonardo’s treatise and passages of Panagiotes’ text. As concerns the upper date of Zhepharovich’s text, the date of 1737 accompanying his signature as a painter Illirico-Slav Zograph’ on his earliest mural scheme in the Bodjani Monastery, Croatia, situates the compilation of his text prior to his graduation as a master painter. With regard to the vexed issue of Zhepharovich’s national origin, the etymological derivation of the name ‘Zhephar’ is seen to sustain the thesis that Zhepharovich was from the Macedonian ethnic group Zinzers (using the aroumanian language). The question of Zhepharovich’s own awareness of national identity is not considered to have been of importance to him as much as his identification with Orthodox Christianity. The concept of ‘national bi-lingualism’, implying multi lingualism canceling national consciousness is introduced and supported with reference to other examples. It is seen to be characteristic amongst icon-painters in the Balkans at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Zhepharovich’s “Stematographia” of 1741 is discussed in the context of Illirism, the creation of a free Christian state of south Slav nations. His achievement as an engraver during the period 1741-1754 is positively evaluated in terms of the range of his production. In summary, the significance of Zhepharovich is seen to lie in his proficiency in both Eastern and Western traditions which endowed him with the versatility to realise the integration of central European visual culture into the Orthodox visual tradition in the Ottoman dominated Balkans.
2. Christophor Zhepharovich and his General instructions or hermeneia to the young willing to learn the art of icon-painting (1726-1737)
The oldest surviving manuscript of Zhepharovich’s General Instructions or Hermeneia preserved in the library of The Rumanian Academy of Sciences (N Gr. 886) and considered by M. Theoharis to be a prototype is, on analysis of the script, identified as a copy and ascribed to a period after the mid eighteenth century. The manuscript consists of thirty-one chapters of general instructions to the painter, followed by what can be categorised as hermeneia. The instructions encompass an exceptionally broad range of media and methods, such as wall-painting in what is now known as fresco secco, pigment bound with oil referred to as naturale, for smalto (‘smaltino’) accompanied with illustrative sketches, for drawing on glass and for executing miniatures on parchment, ivory or marble, for wood-carving, for working with gold and for engraving on copper. The validity of parallels made in 1973 by M. Theoharis between the work of Zhepharovich and Panagiotes’ translation of Leonardo’s Treatise is reassessed as here Zhepharovich’s text is considered to have been compiled under dictation from the translations and text On Painting of the Ionian painter during his period in Corfu. Parts of the text are recognised as following the anonymous sources of Dionysius of Fourna and the recipes for the technical processes of smalto, gilding with gold leaf and with ground gold powder on paper, for ‘Spanish green’, white lead, minium etc are seen to have been appropriated from Presbyter Theophilus. Zhepharovich’s text is found to be significant in the following respects:
1. With regard to the content, the claim made by Theocharis that it represents the most extensive treatise on Byzantine painting of the Post–Byzantine period is unchallenged. General Instructions is regarded as a technical handbook and the lack of instruction for iconography imparts a secular dimension. In addition to the formulae characteristic of the hermeneia of the period dealing with mural painting and the decoration of the iconostasis, Zhepharovich’s text contains analytic instructions addressing craftsmanship across the spectrum of manual arts familiar to the sector under Ottoman subjugation. Attention is given to the significance of the smalto/smaltino technique, which broadly used in Europe in the later medieval period ages had originated in Byzantium but had fallen into neglect by the eighteenth century. From the emphasis in the text given to the western method of copper engraving and printing is inferred the importance placed on the appropriation of these media in the development of instantaneous production and widespread economical dissemination of religious and national propaganda.
2. With regard to sources, Zhepharovich’s text is viewed as a compilation of the most commonly used formulae of the Orthodox visual tradition together with elements of western artistic theory from Italy or Crete derived from Greek translations. More significantly, Zhepharovich is viewed as a model in the initial stages of Europeanisation which influenced Balkan painters’ orientation towards Central Europe: Germany and Austria (through the translations of Presbyter Theophilus), and Budapest and Moscow. In addition to the text, the ornamental quality of the printed frames and cartouches and designs for ecclesiastical embroidery introduced the decorative vocabulary of German Baroque and Rococo with the result that Balkan icon painting became more closely integrated in the broader scheme of European artistic processes in the period of the Enlightenment. The table of parallels drawn by M. Theoharis from the first section of Zepharovich’s manuscript Gr 886 in Bucharest and Panagiotes’ On Painting is reproduced with the addition of a newly drawn table of the contents of the second part of the Bucharest codex. The circulation of the manuscript in the Slavonic sphere is also accounted for. The issue of Zhepharovich’s text as a source is also considered in relation to Zacharii Petrovich’s Slavonic Hermenia (Sofia, NAG Inv. 3003) dated 1838. The origin of the nineteenth century Greek manuscript N 381 in the Dujčev Research Center for Slavo-Byzantine Studies is located to Macedonia on the grounds of the analogous watermark found in the typikon from 1807 to 1838 (inventory of the annual report) of St. Ivan Bigorski Monastery. This supports the hypothesis that N 831 belonged to the icon-painter Michael from Samarina who was active there. The common origin in Samokov of the only two known translations of Zhepharovich’s text in Slavonic by Petrovich in 1838 and by Christo Jovevich in 1839 is regarded as demonstrating the impact of Zhepharovich’s text on the icon-painters of Samokov, evident particularly in their use of characteristically Baroque ornament.
Hermeneia are evaluated as indispensable historical tools for charting the concept of images and for defining schools or movements. As vehicles of dissemination, they illustrate the cultural interface between eastern and western Europe and demonstrate how in the east their interpretation was for general trends irrespective of geographical origin and national significance.
Zhepharovich is considered to be of major significance in the development of the Orthodox visual tradition on account of the attention given to technical processes.
The chronological discrepancy between the western and eastern visual traditions in the adoption and integration of Renaissance aesthetics is attributed to the restraining influence of Orthodox theology.
There are two Appendixes in the book. Appendix I is the first chapter of the Zhepharovich’s Hermeneia or general instructions, published for the first time under Gr 886, Rumanian Academy of Sciences. It is the original Greek text complemented by the the Bulgarian author’s translation and comments. The latter believes that this source will prove beneficial to all the hellenists. Appendix II is a Concise Greek-Bulgarian-English Iconographical Dictionary, appearing for the first time, too. It contains names of iconographical scenes, epithets, materials etc. No such specialised dictionaries of the kind are to be found in either Bulgaria and Greece.
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