Tag Archives: Byzantine

The Passion of Christ goes digital – from Athen’s Byzantine and Christian Museum

I first discovered Paddy through my interest in Roman and Byzantine history. In fact through the excellent three volume work, Byzantium, of Paddy’s great friend John Julius Norwich. Some of you know that I run a parallel blog about Byzantium, and I thought that on this occasion I would share a recent post; I wondered how both Paddy and John Julius might have enjoyed it, and so, I hope, do you. If nothing else the music is sublime

In time for this (Orthodox) holy week period, the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens is offering a digital tour of some of its best works. 

This gold-embroidered Epitaphios (liturgical vestment) dated to 1751 from the famous workshop of Mariora in Constantinople stands out among other exquisite works of art in this digital exhibition which draws on the collections of the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. Hidden in its linings, conservators found the original signatures of the embroiderer and of the person that donated it – Mariora and Timothea. The masterpiece of Byzantine art is a long-term loan from the Exarchate of Jerusalem in Athens.

The digital exhibition, which visitors to the museum’s website can view this week, is a 33-minute video featuring 95 works from the museum’s collections on the Passion, Burial and Resurrection of Christ, and is accompanied by some wonderful music.

This unique digital presentation of museum objects of different places, eras, styles and materials aspires to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the centuries-old illustration of the leading events of the Divine Economy, as described in the Scriptures. The works, mostly portable icons, are thematically distributed according to the chronological sequence of historical events and their theological symbolism, beginning with Lazarus’ Sabbath and ending with Easter Sunday.



Remembering John Craxton

An event in memory of the late English artist was held last week at the British Embassy in Athens, and Paddy was there.

The early works of John Craxton evoked an ‘arcadian’ feel but later became more schematic. Cubism and other 20th-century movements had an influence on his work.

First published in Ekathimerini online on 21 April 2010

By A Koroxenidis

When the late English painter John Craxton (1922-2009) first visited Greece in the mid-1940s he discovered what he called “human identities,” a world that suited him and was to soon become his home.

In the 60s Craxton settled in Hania, Crete, in a house facing the old harbor. He led a simple bohemian life, appreciated the local lifestyle and explored the country’s cultural history, especially the Byzantine churches on the island. For many years, he also served as as Britain’s consular correspondent in Hania.

John Craxton

His friends and the people close to him, who gathered last week at the British Embassy in an event dedicated to Craxton’s memory, remember him as a talented artist, an intellectual, a generous, straightforward and well-mannered person who had humor, sophistication and an optimist view of life. A learned artist, Craxton was part of an intellectual international milieu.

Following an opening by British Ambassador to Athens Dr David Landsman, novelist and playwright Paris Takopoulos, who met Craxton in London in the late 1940s, referred to the artist’s knowledge of Greek modern culture and also spoke of the great value that Craxton placed on friendship. He also noted that Craxton was an excellent critic of art.

John Craxton work from Greece

Maria Vassilaki, associate professor of Byzantine art at the University of Thessaly, was another longtime friend of Craxton. [Maria was co-curtaor of the Byzantium 330-1453 Exhibition – see myByzantine blog]

Vassilaki spoke of his [Craxton’s] deep knowlege of Byzantine art and of their long conversations on Byzantine art and culture, on which they had planned to publish a book. Craxton had abandoned the idea but Vassilaki has edited the book and plans to publish it with Crete University Press.

Journalist (formerly at Kathimerini) and writer Maria Karavia mused upon her memories of Craxton and his friendship with the painter Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, with whom he stayed whenever he visited Athens. Her warm memories include Craxton’s tender and colorful use of the Greek language.

The British author Sir Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor was also among the speakers. Craxton and Leigh Fermor had worked together on a number of projects, with the former illustrating the covers of many of the latter’s books.

Born to musician parents, Craxton was raised in an artistic and intellectual family. He studied art in Paris and, as a young artist, produced paintings of an “arcadian” feel. His first visits to Greece inspired him in the designs for a 1951 production of the ballet “Daphnis et Chloe” by the Royal Ballet.

A major retrospective on his work was held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1967. In 1993, Craxton was elected Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts, London.