Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 2603
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Barber , Charles.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: The imperial panels at San Vitale: a reconsideration [Two sixth century mosaics in the aspe of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy, depict the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (on the left) and his wife Theodora (on the right). Although the Emperor and Empress appear to be represented identically (with purple clothing, haloes, and similar postures), other types of iconography in the panels differentiate the role and status of the figures according to their gender. The Emperor, flanked by priests and soldiers, carries objects that indicate his priestly and military roles. The Empress, dressed in more lavish clothing and jewels and enclosed in a depiction of architectural space, reflects Byzantine society’s legal and social relegation of women (even aristocratic ones) to the domestic sphere. Nonetheless, Theodora’s position in image (in the center with males on one side of her, females, on the other) places her at the boundary between the sexes, as a transgressive figure who straddles both public and private spheres. Title note supplied by Feminae.].
  • Source: Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 14, ( 1990): Pages 19 - 42.
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Journal Article
  • Subject (See Also): Architecture- Image of Architecture- Religious Art History- Decorative Arts Byzantium Clothing, Image of Emperors Empresses in Art Gender Iconography Justinian I, Byzantine Emperor in Art Noblility Noble Men Noble Women Private Sphere and Public Sphere Ra
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 6
  • Related Resources:
  • Primary Evidence: Decorative Art; Mosaics, circa 547 (aspe, San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy). Two mosaics in the aspe of San Vitale depict the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and Empress Theodora on opposite sides of the aspe (the Emperor on the left, the Empress on the right). In themosaics, bo
  • Illustrations: Two Figures. Figure One Mosaic of Justinian I, circa 547 (left side of aspe, San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy). The Emperor Justinian, crowned, haloed, and dressed in purple, stands at the center of the panel, attended by robed priests and soldiers. Justinian carries a paten, while the priests carry an incenser, gospel, and cross. Figure Two Mosaic of Theodora, circa 547 (right side of aspe, San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy).~~The Empress Theodora, crowned, haloed, and dressed in purple, stands at the center of the panel, attended by two male and seven female courtiers. To the left of the panel is a curtained doorway, in the center a niche, and in the foreground a fountain. Theodora holds a chalice.
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  • Abstract:
  • Author's Affiliation: Courtauld Institute
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1990.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 03070131
  • Material/Technique :
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