Makarova Anna

The Style of Murals in the Main Volume of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bethania and Their Place in Georgian and Byzantine Painting. Middle — Second Half of the 12th Century

Makarova Anna (2016) " The Style of Murals in the Main Volume of the Church of Nativity of the Virgin in Bethania and Their Place in Georgian and Byzantine Painting. Middle — Second Half of the 12th Century ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia V : Voprosi istorii i teorii hristianskogo iskusstva, 2016, vol. 22, pp. 25-39 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturV201622.25-39


The stylistic analysis of the wall painting of Betania monastery sheds light on the place of these frescoes in Byzantine art of the 12th century. As for the Georgian paintings of the epoch, there are some monuments of the first third of the 12th century (frescoes of St. George in Bochorma (after 1104) and several churches of Svanetia, mosaics and frescoes of Gelati Monastery (1130s)). The following fifty years present a kind of historical gap in art, after which the first dated monument is the Church of the Dormition of Vardzia monastery (1180s). The study of the frescoes on the south and north walls of the nave of the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in Betania allows us to conclude that their style was developing in the course of the classical trends of Byzantine painting of 12th century. The present article examines the frescoes of Betania among the monuments of the Middle Byzantine era as the wall paintings of the Mirozh monastery in Pskov (1130s–1140s), the Church of the Transfiguration of St. Euphrosynia monastery in Polotsk (circa 1161), the Palatine Chapel in Palermo, Sicily (1142–1150), the Cathedral-Basilica of Cefalù (1148), the Martorana or Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (1146–1156) etc. During the 12th century Georgia like the Balkan, Russia, Southern Italy and Cyprus was gradually becoming an independent artistic center detached from the metropolis nevertheless responding to the stylistic changes in the art of Byzantine world. There was forming a regional version of the style, in Georgia that adopted and modifi ed the artistic language of the metropolis. Taking into consideration the similar phenomenon in different countries the frescoes study of Betania makes possible to date the monument in the interval between the 1150s and 1160s.


Betania, Orbeli, George III, Komnenian art, frescoes, style, Ateni Sioni Church, Mirozh monastery, Polotsk.


1. Abramishvili G. 2006 “Ateni Sioni”, in Pravoslavnaja jenciklopedija, Moscow, 2006, vol. 3, pp. 675–677.
2. Aladashvili N. A., Alibegashvili G. V., Vol'skaja A. I. Zhivopisnaja shkola Svanetii (Painting School of Svaneti), Tbilisi, 1983.
3. Virsaladze Tinatin. 2007 “Freskovaja rospis' hudozhnika Mikaela Maglakeli v Machvarishi” (Fresco Painting of Artist Mikael Maglakeli in Machvarishi), in Virsaladze Tinatin: Izbrannye trudy, Tbilisi, 2007, pp. 145–225.
4. Lazaraev V. N. Vizantijskaja zhivopis' (Byzantine Painting), Moscow, 1971.
5. Lidov A. M. Rospisi monastyrja Ahtala (Paintings of Ahtala Monastery), Moscow, 2014.
6. Popova O. S. 2005 “Asketicheskoe napravlenie v vizantijskom iskusstve vtoroj chetverti XI veka i ego dal'nejshaja sud'ba” (Ascetic Direction in Byzantine Art of Second Quarter of XI Century and Its Future Destiny), in Vizantijskij mir: iskusstvo Konstantinopolja i nacional'nye tradicii. K 2000-letiju hristianstva. Pamjati O. I. Podobedovoj (1912–1999), Moscow, 2005.
7. Privalova E. Vardzija, Tbilisi, 1982.
8. Sarab'janov V. D. Spaso-Preobrazhenskij sobor Mirozhskogo monastyrja (Transfiguration Cathedral of Mirozhskij Monastery), Moscow, 2010.
9. Sarab'janov V. D., Smirnova Je. S. Istorija drevnerusskoj zhivopisi (History of Old Russian Painting), Moscow, 2007.
10. Сonstantinidi E. 1993–1994 “The Frescoes of the Church of the Holy Archangels of Zemo-Krikhi, Rača (Georgia) and Contemporary Monuments of Mani in Southern Greecе”, in Images from the Byzantine Periphery Studies in Iconography and Style, Athens, 1993–1994, pp. 181–192.
11. Zakharova A., Sverdlova S. 2015 “Original Wall Paintings at the Church of the Saviour in Chvabiani (Upper Svaneti, Georgia) and Byzantine Art at the Turn of the Tenth to Eleventh Centuries”, in Zograf, Belgrade, 2015, vol. 39, pp. 11–25.
12. ქავთარია ნინო. წყაროსთავის ოთხთავი: ეროვნული მემკვიდრეობა // საპატრიარქოს უწყებანი. სექტემბერი, № 30 (558). თბ., 2010. გვ.19–20.

Information about the author

Makarova Anna