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The Sovereign's Image and its Site-Specificity in Kyivan Rus'

Where
Zoom
When
October 13, 2022
12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
A lecture about how Kyivan sovereign's portraits concealed the questionable mechanisms of rising into power and legitimized the alleged usurpers in the eyes of the society, the Church, and Christ.

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Although the ruling clan of Kyivan Rus' was rather numerous, only few historic portraits of its members have been preserved until now. These include family portraits in the wall paintings of St. Sophia and St. Cyril churches in Kyiv, the miniatures in the Izobornik of the year 1073 and the Pselterium Egberti, and rare examples of individual portrayals in an early coinage. Their scarcity of these images makes them an invaluable tool for envisioning the historic past and providing a visual dimension to the testimonies of the written sources. That is how most scholars have approached them: merely as illustrations for historic figures and events. In this lecture, Kozak will discuss the role these images played in the political processes on their own and how their relations to their discursive site—that is the power struggle for the Kyivan throne—defined the need for their production and the way of their reception. The Kyivan sovereign's portraits, he argues, concealed the questionable mechanisms of rising into power and legitimized the alleged usurpers in the eyes of the society, the Church, and Christ.

Nazar Kozak is Senior Researcher at the Department of Art Studies at the Ethnology Institute of the National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine and Associate Professor of Art History at Ivan Franko University of Lviv. Kozak received a PhD from Lviv Academy of Arts in 2000. His research was supported by scholarships and grants from the Fulbright Scholar Program, Getty Scholar Program, the American Council of Learned Societies, and other organizations. Kozak is working in two subfields of art history simultaneously: medieval and contemporary. His research on the medieval period concerns political iconography and art exchanges in Byzantine and post-Byzantine cultural spheres. In contemporary art studies, Kozak is exploring art’s agency in crisis situations.

Sponsors and Endorsers: Dumbarton Oaks | Princeton University | Boise State University | Tufts University College Art Association (CAA) | Byzantine Studies Association of North America (BSANA) | Society of Historians of Eastern European, Eurasian and Russian Art and Architecture (SHERA) | Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, University of Kent | Historians of German, Scandinavian, and Central European Art (HGSCEA) | British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) | International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA) | Renaissance Society of America (RSA)

Christ crowning Yaropolk and Kunigunde. Illustration from the Psalterium Egberti, Kyiv, ca 1085. Cividale del Friuli, National Archaeological Museum, Ms. CXXXVI, fol. 10v.