Institute for Mediterranean Studies
La carrière patrimoniale d’une mosaïque portative byzantine

Seraïdari, Katerina. «La carrière patrimoniale d’une mosaïque portative byzantine.» Culture & Musées, 40 (2022) : 199-228

This article tells two parallel stories: one about a 14th century Athonite icon that was in the collection of a Russian diplomat in 1894 before it was acquired by the Dumbarton Oaks Museum, and the other is the emergence of a new object of study in the field of Byzantine Art starting at the end of the 19th century, precisely when these pieces (that were being studied systematically for the first time) were increasingly sought after by collectors. Thus, this article examines how a type of object (small portable mosaics) was identified and named at the end of the 19th century. Efforts to define this type of object were signified by the production of lists of byzantine miniatures that had survived the passage of time. Inventories revealed the great rarity of these pieces that were already highly desirable amongst Italian collectors during the Renaissance. This article follows the trajectory of one such mosaic, which after having been kept in place in the treasury of the Vatopedi Monastery, was moved around a number of times. Its change of status (from object of devotion to a museum work), the conditions of its displacements and the different forms of exchange in which it was involved (gifts but also sales) reveal a correlation with the development of archeological studies on such portable mosaics. The articulation between these two stories shows that the process of organizing knowledge on certain topics can directly affect the art and antiquities market.

  • Κατερίνα Σεραϊδάρη