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The Holy Apostles—Visualizing a Lost Monument

Designed to accompany the 2015 Byzantine Studies symposium on the Holy Apostles, this exhibition celebrates the collaborative work intended to reconstruct the now lost church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

The Holy Apostles: Visualizing a Lost Monument celebrates the collaborative scholarly endeavor initiated in the early years of Dumbarton Oaks, which had the aim of reconstructing the now lost church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. The project was led by Albert M. Friend, an art historian, and included Glanville Downey, a philologist, and Paul Underwood, an architectural historian. The goal of this interdisciplinary team was a comprehensive three-part publication on the Holy Apostles that would present the architecture, mosaic decoration, and relevant texts that describe the vanished monument. Preliminary findings were presented during the 1948 Dumbarton Oaks symposium on the same subject, but the final results were never published. 

At the center of this exhibition are the meticulous drawings executed by Paul Underwood, now preserved in the Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives (ICFA). They synthesize the knowledge and ideas of all three scholars, and show a building taking shape from a cube to a cruciform structure complete with colonnades, arches, and domes with detailed mosaic decoration. These drawings are accompanied by additional archival material from ICFA that illustrate the methodology and ideas behind the project, which drew on the scholars’ understanding of key texts by Constantine the Rhodian and Nicholas Mesarites and comparison with other monuments.

The extensive material that resulted from the Holy Apostles project cannot be fully displayed in the on-site exhibit. For further exploration, a booklet and this online exhibition are available.

The exhibition was created on the occasion of the 2015 Spring Symposium on the Holy Apostles in the approach to the seventy-fifth anniversary of Dumbarton Oaks. This symposium aims to complete the task of the early years by assessing the significance of the church, its milieu, and its legacy.


Exhibit Sections