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Free course

The Byzantine icon

Free statement of participation on completion
The Byzantine icon

This free course provides a quick overview of the Byzantine icon; its function, the spaces it occupies and the subjects it depicts. The course spans two weeks.

In Week 1, you will explore what an icon is, its function and importance within the Byzantine culture, and Christian Orthodox religion. This course doesn't require extensive prior knowledge of Christianity, though you will need to study the context within which the Byzantine icon was developed and the purpose it served (and still serves). As such, the Bible is a vital source for understanding the subjects depicted on Byzantine icons. Once you're familiar with the concept of the Byzantine icon, in Week 2 you will learn how to ‘read’ an icon. Since the subjects depicted on icons rely on the narrative of the Bible, in Week 2 you will be taught some basic skills on how to approach and identify the subject matter of an icon.

This course is a short journey into the rich world of Byzantine artistic production via its most illustrious representative – the icon.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand what an icon is
  • describe the origins and the concept of the Byzantine icon
  • outline the functions of the Byzantine icon
  • acknowledge the artistic contribution of the Byzantine icon in the development of art history
  • develop basic skills on how to 'read' an icon.

First Published: 06/12/2022

Updated: 06/12/2022

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