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Witnessing Byzantium: The Greek Perspective

Sharon E. J. Gerstel, professor of Byzantine art history and archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles. The Greek city of Thessaloniki was the Byzantine Empire’s second city, after Constantinople, in both wealth and size. In this lecture recorded on January 16, 2014, to celebrate the exhibition Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections, which is on view at the National Gallery of Art through March 2, 2014, Sharon Gerstel examines this moment of artistic creativity in Thessaloniki. The first-ever exhibition of Byzantine art at the Gallery presents some 170 works of art, many never before lent to the United States, including mosaics, icons, manuscripts, jewelry, and ceramics. Using the Heaven and Earth exhibition as a lens, Gerstel focuses on works produced in Byzantium’s second city—demonstrating their importance in their own time and their significance for generations that followed. This program was coordinated with and supported by Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection.