Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Friday, 4 July 2008 11:59 UK

In pictures: Byzantine art

12th century gold and silver church.

The Royal Academy has announced a major exhibition of Byzantine art, featuring many items that have never been seen in public. "This is the beginning of Europe, this was how Europe was defined," says the exhibition's co-curator Professor Robin Cormack.

Chalice

"This chalice was found in the early 20th century and identified as the Holy Grail," says Professor Cormack. "It was believed the inner part was the Grail itself, with decoration added later... but re-examination suggested it was from the 6th century."

Paten

Known as a paten, this dish was made in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) in the 6th century. "It's a wonderfully rich liturgical dish," says Professor Cormack.

Book of Psalms

This book of Psalms was written after the end of iconoclasm, when religious images were banned. The page shows a man whitewashing an icon of Jesus. "The message is that iconoclasts were as bad as the people who crucified Christ," says Professor Cormack.

Archangel St Michael

"This amazing icon, made in enamel and glass of the Archangel St Michael, is in perfect condition," says Professor Cormack. "It must have been made around 1200 for the Emperor in the Byzantine palace and stolen by the Latin crusaders after 1204."

Crucifixion

This image of the crucifixion is from 13th century Italy. Its realistic portrayal of Christ is "an example of how the Renaissance isn't a reaction and rejection of Byzantium, but a continuation," notes Professor Cormack.

Mosaic of Dean of St Stephen

This mosaic of the Dean of St Stephen was in the Cathedral of St Michael in Kiev until it was destroyed by Stalin in the 1930s. The Byzantium exhibition, the first of its kind in the UK for 50 years, opens at the Royal Academy of Arts in October.



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