Wolfgang Beltracchi, 2018
The Scholars of Byzantium
Artistic voice: Anonymous, ca. 1398, Constantinople
Tempera on parchment, each 37,5 x 29 cm

»Illuminated manuscripts were the most expensive and ideologically sophisticated art commissions of the middle ages. They required extensive resources, intellectual capital, complicated planning and design, and labor management between scribes and artists. Private, tactile engagement with such a unique object had a tremendous power to gratify a powerful figure and impress the members of his or her retinue.«

Professor Elena Boeck, DePaul University, Chicago

Academic studies in the Middle Ages were based on ancient authors. The Latin-influenced West revered Aristotle above all others. As other sources such as the Platonic writings spread, this initiated an impulse that led to the Renaissance. Greek philosophy reached the West via the Byzantine Empire. Anna Komnene, an emperor’s daughter of the 12th century, described the reign of her father in the “Alexiad”, thus creating one of the most important history books.
It also describes the life of John Italus, the first “Consul of the Philosophers” in Constantinople. His knowledge of ancient and in particular Neoplatonic philosophy made him an unassailable luminary, in spite of his fiery temperament. Beltracchi adds an illustration to his biography in the “Alexiad” for the first time.

Calligraphy by Gosbert Stark, idea for picture motif in cooperation with Dr. Sergei Mariev