Paul Atkins Underwood

April 1, 2009 by  
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Date born: 1902
Place Born: Aguadilla, Puerto Rico
Date died: 1968
Place died: Knoxville, TN

Byzantinist and Dumbarton Oaks scholar. Underwood’s father was a Presbyterian missionary in Puerto Rico when his son, Paul, was born. He graduated from Princeton University in 1925 with a B. S. in architecture, continuing for a master of fine arts degree in architecture from Princeton in 1928. Underwood initially practiced architecture in New York until the Great Depression of the 1930s caused commissions to cease. He traveled to Greece, making a personal study of the classical and medieval monuments. Underwood returned to the United States and Princeton in 1935, where medievalists had emerged as the leaders of the department of art and archaeology there. He married Irene Jarde during this time. In 1938 Underwood joined the faculty of Cornell University, teaching art history courses. His earliest articles, one on the iconography of a pilgrim staff-part of the catalog of the Museo San Marco–and another on the Bernini towers for St. Peters, reflect the range of area characteristic of his Princeton mentor Charles Rufus Morey (q.v.). By his own admission, teaching was not his forte and in 1943 he received a fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, Harvard University’s early medieval study center near Washington, DC. The Senior Scholar in Residence, Albert M. Friend (q.v.) enlisted Underwood’s help in 1945 to write a comprehensive study of the decoration sources for the destroyed Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. He was appointed assistant professor in 1946. Underwood moved to Instanbul in 1949. The following year, 1950, the head and founder of the private Byzantine Institute, Thomas Whittemore (1871-1950) died suddenly and Underwood took over as Field Director assisted by Ernest Hawkins (q.v.), who had been Whittemore’s second-in-command. At that time, the group was engaged in uncovering the mosaics of Hagia Sophia. Underwood became an assistant professor at Dumbarton Oaks in 1951. As director of field work, he completed the Hagia Sophia work and then supervised the excavation and restoration of the church of Kariye Djami in Istanbul, again begun by Whittemore, with a team that included in addition to Hawkins, A. H. S. “Peter” Megaw (q.v.) There the team uncovered important Byzantine frescos and mosaics. Dumbarton Oaks gradually took over the research from the Institute, initially paying the salaries of the team. Though Kariye Djami became his life interest, Underwood also participated on the exploration and restorations of the Fethiye Djami (Church of the Pammakaristos), the Zayrek Djami (Church of the Pantokrator) and the Fenari Isa Djami (Church of the Theotokos of Contatine Lips). He was made full professor at Dumbarton Oaks in 1960. In 1963 Dumbarton Oaks assumed full responsibility for the field work, which Underwood continued to oversee as chair of the “Committee on Field Work.” He published his Istanbul research in the three-volume The Kariye Djami beginning in 1966. The Princeton University Press Bollingen-series book was awarded College Art Association’s Charles Rufus Morey award. He completed a fourth volume on Kariye Djami shortly before his death.

Underwood’s early research publications were iconographic, reflecting the approach of Princeton’s faculty. His major work on Kariye Djami though largely descriptive, contains analysis of the decoration in broader context.

Home Country: United States
Sources: Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 59 cited; Constable, Giles. “Dumbarton Oaks and Byzantine Field Work.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 37 (1983): 172; [obituary:] “Paul A. Underwood, Byzantium Expert.” New York Times September 27, 1968, p. 47; Kitzinger, Ernst. “Paul Atkins Underwood (1902-1968).” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 23 (1969): 1-6.
Bibliography: The Kariye Djami. 4 vols. New York: 1966-1968; “Notes on the Work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul: 1954.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 9 (1956): 291-300; “Notes on the Work of the Byzantine Institute in Istanbul: 1955-1956.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 12 (1958): 269-287; and Hawkins, Ernest. “The Mosaics of Hagia Sophia at Istanbul: The Portrait of the Emperor Alexander: A Report on Work Done by the Byzantine Institute in 1959 and 1960.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 15 (1961): 187-217.

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Ten Facts About the Chora Church in Istanbul, Turkey

April 1, 2009 by  
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by Richard Carriero

1. Ancient Byzantine Church – The Kariye Museum, or Chora Church, was originally constructed during the 4th Century AD. It is located in the Edirnekapý district in the western reaches of the city. Although the Kariye Museum can be quite a trek compared with most Byzantine architecture located in and around Sultanahmet, this museum’s unusual design and dazzling array of frescoes simply cannot be missed.
2. Generations of Remodeling – We know little about modern Chora Church’s predecessors but doubtless its previous incarnations underwent many remodeling projects, like pretty much all ancient Byzantine structures, as a necessary consequence of Istanbul’s frequent earthquakes. Any ancient frescoes and icons were more than likely destroyed during the iconoclastic period when depictions of Christ and other human figures were prohibited by the Orthodox Church (the same shunning of human figures would be visited on Kariye Museum during its life as a mosque). The current version of the Chora Church was built during the 11th century by Maria Doukaina, mother-in-law of Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. The frescoes for which Kariye Museum is famous were added during the 14th century.

3. Nice Try – During the siege of Constantinople, Chora Church was in the thick of the action due to its proximity to the western walls, the weakest point of the Byzantine defenses. As the situation became increasingly ominous, the icon of Theotokus Hodegetria-a depiction of the Virgin Mary considered to be a strong protector of the city-was brought to Chora Church in order to provide some Divine aid. History clearly dictates that this noble effort was in vain as the Ottomans pierced the western walls on May 29th and took the city by storm.

4. Converted to a mosque – Chora Church was converted to a mosque by Grand Vizier Atik Ali Paþa during the reign of Sultan Beyazit II in the early 16th century. The Ottomans did not significantly alter the church during conversion though they did replace the grand dome, which had fallen in during an earthquake. The frescoes were covered by dirt, paint, and plaster for centuries until the former glory of Chora Church was entirely forgotten. The building was rediscovered in the mid 19th century and restored to a significant degree by the Turkish government. An American Byzantine cultural foundation further restored the frescoes in 1948 and it was then converted into a museum.

5. What’s in a Name? – Kariye Museum was first named “The Church of the Holy Savior Outside the Walls.” In fact, the word Chora means “country” in Greek. The name alludes to the fact that at the time it was built the Chora Church was located outside the walls built by Constantine the Great. Within a century of its construction the Emperor Theodosius would construct the current western walls, which would enclose Chora Church and make its very name an artifact. As a mosque the Kariye museum has been referred to as “Atik Ali Paþa Camii” after the vizier who had it converted, “Kenise Camii” and “Kariye Camii” until it finally became Kariye Museum in 1948.

6. Ravages of Time – The Kariye Museum has suffered at the hands of many disasters, both human and natural. At various times, earthquakes have damaged the foundations, walls and roof of the church, requiring frequent renovation. The first major recorded renovation occurred in the late 12th century after the Latin Occupation when an earthquake caused a partial collapse of the foundations and the current nave was constructed. Fires have ravaged the church, even destroying some of its frescoes. The Latin Conquest in 1204 and the Ottoman Conquest in 1453 also stripped the church of its riches. After its conversion to a mosque, the Kariye suffered principally from neglect as a non-descript mosque in the outskirts of the city until it was rediscovered and its masterful works of art were painstakingly uncovered.

7. Frescoes! – Noted Istanbul scholar John Freely has given Chora Church second place behind only Aya Sofya among Byzantine buildings principally for its frescoes, which Freely has referred to as; “far and away the most important and extensive series of Byzantine paintings in the city and among the most interesting in the world.” Chora Church easily outdoes Aya Sofya in painting as there are far more frescoes, they are in notably better condition and-due to the museum’s small size-they are much closer and more accessible to the viewer. Entering the southern entrance to the Kariye Museum and proceeding from the parecclesion, an annex to the ancient church, through the outer and inner narthex toward the main nave, you cannot help but be struck by the radiant colors and vivid figures that are quite literally Christian history in painting. Various panels depict the life of Christ and Mary, Christ’s ancestry, the history of the ancient church and even Judgment Day. The faces are not the crude visages typical of medieval iconic art but rather humanistic renderings that seem to emote sadness, suffering and serenity. The highlight for me was the “Anastasis” fresco, a painting at the eastern end of the parecclesion that is a page straight out of the “Divine Comedy.” This painting depicts Christ, during his three days in Hell before the Resurrection, forcibly pulling the ancient Jewish patriarchs from their captivity in the Inferno.

8. The Great Patron – The man principally responsible for Kariye Museum’s eye popping frescoes is Theodore Metochites. Metochites was something of a Renaissance man (albeit two hundred years before the Renaissance). He held the position of Grand Logethete (auditor of the treasury) under Emperor Andronikos II. Metochites was also a poet, scholar, scientist and patron of the arts. In 1312 Metochites commissioned the painting of the great frescoes in Chora Church. A panel painted over the doorway to the inner narthex depicts Theodore Metochites in his full dress robes offering a model of the church to the enthroned figure of Christ. Tragically Metochites power was not to last as he was stripped of position and riches and even imprisoned by the usurper, Andronikos III. Near death, Metochites was freed and allowed to live out his days as a monk and scholar in the Chora Monastery where, upon his death, he was entombed in the church that he helped immortalize.

9. Climbing the Walls – Edirnekapý, which is adjacent to Fatih, is not the safest district in Istanbul, however, during a daytime visit and exercising a little common sense, you shouldn’t have a problem. Nearby Kariye Museum is the Edirne Gate, location of the gate in the Theodosian walls where the road to ancient Adrianople passed through the walls westward out of the city. If you have not done so already, a walk along the Theodosian walls is a necessary experience to truly appreciate both Byzantine history and the Ottoman conquest. These massive walls, which have been inscribed in both Ottoman and Greek script, are pock marked by cannon balls, have collapsed in some places and been quite obviously rebuilt in others. They are largely intact, nonetheless. Modern plaques commemorate places where the Ottomans breached the walls on May 29th, 1453. A walk along the top of the walls can be a treacherous experience as they are quite high and not always in mint condition. If you are brave enough to climb to these battlements, however, the view is spectacular.

10. Getting There – Kariye Müzesi is located on Kariye Camii Sokak in Edirnekapý. Visiting hours are 9-4:30 Thursday through Tuesday (hours are extended to 6:30 PM June through October). Admission is 10 YTL. Take bus #’s 28 or 36KE from Eminonu or bus # 87 from Taksim. A taxi  ride from Taksim should cost between 10 and 15 YTL.

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Byzantine architecture

April 1, 2009 by  
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Byzantine architecture
is the architecture of the Byzantine empire. The empire emerged gradually after AD 330, when Constantine moved the capital of the Roman empire to Byzantium, which was later renamed Constantinople and is now Istanbul.

Byzantine architecture – General considerations 
Byzantine architecture – General considerationsEarly Byzantine architecture is essentially a continuation of Roman architecture. Prime examples survive mostly in Ravenna and Constantinople and include the churches of St Irene, St Sophia, and Sts Sergius and Bakchus, the latter often referred to as Little Hagia Sophia. Secular structures include the walls of Constantinople and Basilica Cistern. A frieze in the Ostrogothic palace in Ravenna (now S Apollinare Nuovo) depicts an early Byzantine palace.

Gradually, a style emerged which was influenced more by the architecture of the near east, and used the Greek cross plan for the church architecture which mostly stands today. Brick replaced stone, classical orders were used more freely, mosaics replaced carved decoration, and complex domes were erected.

 

Architectural style, Medieval architecture, Russian architecture, Neo-Byzantine Architecture 

Byzantine architecture – Detailed description
As early as the building of Constantine’s churches in Palestine there were two chief types of plan in use: the basilican, or axial, type, represented by the basilica at the Holy Sepulchre, and the circular, or central, type, represented by the great octagonal church once at Antioch. Those of the latter type we must suppose were nearly always vaulted, for a central dome would seem to furnish their very raison d’etre. The central space was sometimes surrounded by a very thick wall, in which deep recesses, to the interior, were formed, as at the noble church of St George, Salonica (5th century?), or by a vaulted aisle, as at Sta Costanza, Rome (4th century); or annexes were thrown out from the central space in such a way as to form a cross, in which these additions helped to counterpoise the central vault, as at the mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna (5th century). The most famous church of this type was that of the Holy Apostles, Constantinople. Vaults appear to have been early applied to the basilican type of plan; for instance, at St Irene, Constantinople (6th century), the long body of the church is covered by two domes.
At St Sergius, Constantinople, and San Vitale, Ravenna, churches of the central type, the space under the dome was enlarged by having apsidal additions made to the octagon. Finally, at Hagia Sophia (6th century) a combination was made which is perhaps the most remarkable piece of planning ever contrived. A central space of 100 ft (30 m) square is increased to 200 ft (60 m) in length by adding two hemicycles to it to the east and the west; these are again extended by pushing out three minor apses eastward, and two others, one on either side of a straight extension, to the west. This unbroken area, about 260 ft (80 m) long, the larger part of which is over 100 ft (30 m) wide, is entirely covered by a system of domical surfaces. Above the conchs of the small apses rise the two great semi-domes which cover the hemicycles, and between these bursts out the vast lome over the central square. On the two sides, to the north and south of the dome, it is supported by vaulted aisles in two storeys which bring the exterior form to a general square.

At the Holy Apostles (6th century) five domes were applied to a cruciform plan, that in the midst being the highest. After the 6th century there were no churches built which in any way competed in scale with these great works of Justinian, and the plans more or less tended to approximate to one type. The central area covered by the dome was included in a considerably larger square, of which the four divisions, to the east, west, north and south, were carried up higher in the vaulting and roof system than the four corners, forming in this way a sort of nave and transepts. Sometimes the central space was square, sometimes octagonal, or at least there were eight piers supporting the dome instead of four, and the nave and transepts were narrower in proportion.

If we draw a square and divide each side into three so that the middle parts are greater than the others, and then divide the area into nine from these points, we approximate to the typical setting out of a plan of this time. Now add three apses on the east side opening from the three divisions, and opposite to the west put a narrow entrance porch running right across the front. Still in front put a square court. The court is the atrium and usually has a fountain in the middle under a canopy resting on pillars. The entrance porch is the nartliex. The central area covered by the dome is the solea, the place for the choir of singers. Here also stood the ambo. Across the eastern side of the central square was a screen which divided off the bema, where the altar was situated, from the body of the church; this screen, bearing images, is the iconastasis. The altar was protected by a canopy or ciborium resting on pillars. Rows of rising seats around the curve of the apse with the patriarch’s throne at the middle eastern point formed the syntironon. The two smaller compartments and apses at the sides of the bema were sacristies, the diaconicon and protozesis.

The continuous influence from the East is strangely shown in the fashion of decorating external brick walls of churches built about the 12th century, in which bricks roughly carved into form are set up so as to make bands of ornamentation which it is quite clear are imitated from Cufic writing. This fashion was associated with the disposition of the exterior brick and stone work generally into many varieties of pattern, zig-zags, key-patterns &c.; and, as similar decoration is found in many Persian buildings, it is probable that this custom also was derived from the East. The domes and vaults to the exterior were covered with lead or with tiling of the Roman variety. The window and door frames were of marble. The interior surfaces were adorned all over by mosaics or frescoes in the higher parts of the edifice, and below with incrustations of marble slabs, which were frequently of very beautiful varieties, and disposed so that, although in one surface, the coloring formed a series of large panels. The better marbles were opened out so that the two surfaces produced by the division formed a symmetrical pattern resembling somewhat the marking of skins of beasts. 

Byzantine architecture – Byzantine influence
Ultimately, Byzantine architecture in the West gave way to Romanesque and Gothic architecture. In the East it exerted a profound influence on early Islamic architecture, with notable examples including the Umayyad Great Mosque of Damascus and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. In Russia, Romania, and other Orthodox countries the Byzantine architecture persisted even longer, finally giving birth to local schools of architecture.
Neo-Byzantine architecture had a small following in the wake of the Neo-Gothic of the nineteenth century. It was developed on a wide-scale basis in Russia by Konstantin Thon and his numerous disciples.

Byzantine architecture – Essential monuments 
In modern day Egypt Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Mount Sinai In modern day Georgia Djvari, Mtskheta In modern day Greece St Demetrios Cathedral in Salonica Nea Moni Katholikon, Chios Monastery of Daphni near Athens Monastery of Hosios Lukas in Phocide Brontocheion monastery, Mistra Monasteries of Mount Athos In modern day Italy Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna Palace of the Exarch, Ravenna San Vitale, Ravenna San Marco, Venice Torcello Cathedral, Venice In modern day Turkey Hagia Sophia, Istanbul [1] Hagia Irene, Istanbul [2] Sts Sergius and Bacchus, Istanbul [3] St Saviour at Chora, Istanbul [4] St Mary Pammakaristos, Istanbul [5] Elmali Kilise, Cappadocia Hagia Sophia, Trapezunt In modern day Ukraine Saint Sophia Cathedral, Kiev Neo-Byzantine monuments St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral, Kiev St Nicholas Naval Cathedral, Kronstadt Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia New Athos Monastery near Sukhum Temple of Saint Sava, Belgrade Westminster Cathedral, London.

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Chora Church (1903)

April 1, 2009 by  
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Chora Church, Istanbul, Turkey, 1903. Vintage print, 5 x 7 in. Brooklyn Museum, Goodyear. (Photo: Brooklyn Museum)
Notes: Chora. 31. Goodyear number: 31.

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Chora Church Choir (1914)

April 1, 2009 by  
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Chora Church choir. Constantinople, Church of the Chora, Apse.
Note: ‘others in series 1903.’ [Survey 1914. Istanbul; Chora Church].
Goodyear number: 29.

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