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Anna Christidou Memorial Lecture: The East in the West: Fluctuating Borders, Cross-Cultural Encounters and Evolving Identities in the Early Modern Eastern Mediterranean

Thursday, March 16, 2017, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Although the expansion of Byzantine culture beyond the limits of the Orthodox world traces back to the High Middle Ages, it was after the sixteenth century that the geopolitical turmoil in the Eastern Mediterranean profoundly altered the terms of the reception of “Byzantinizing” art in the West. The consecutive wars between Venice and the Ottoman Empire triggered the mass migration of Greek, Slavic, and Albanian populations to the West, resulting to the creation of Orthodox communities from the Adriatic and the Western Balkans as far as East Central Europe. Whether being under Venetian, Ottoman or Habsburg rule, these communities shared common religious and cultural traditions, and created a rising market demand for works of Orthodox art that remained undiminished until the nineteenth century. In this lecture I will delineate the wide range of artistic and historical factors that contributed to the dissemination of Orthodox art in the Catholic West, and I will also demonstrate how icon painting developed into a quasi-universal artistic language that appealed to a vast clientele, thus transcending geopolitical, ethno-confessional, and socio-economic borders.


Margarita Voulgaropoulou earned her doctoral degree in 2014 from the Department of Art History at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She also holds a BA in History and Archaeology (June 2004), and an MA in Art History (November, 2007), both from the same university. In her doctoral dissertation, funded by the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, she investigated the reception of icon painting in the Adriatic region from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century, emphasizing on the cultural interchange between the Eastern Mediterranean, the Italian Peninsula and the Western Balkans. She has presented papers at international conferences, and has published articles on Byzantine, Post-Byzantine and European art. From 2015-16 she was a Ted and Elaine Athanassiades Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies at Princeton University. She is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher at the OTTOCONFESSION project at Central European University. Her research project examines the cross-cultural exchanges between Greek, Slavic and Italian populations in the Orthodox communities of the Adriatic and the Western Balkans.