The Mosaics and the Byzantine Wall Paintings

11 May 2011

The surviving works of monumental painting of the Byzantine period (963-1430) at the Vatopaidi Monastery are confined to the katholikon and the Chapel of the Aghioi Anargyroi*.

The picture is completed by some fragments of wall-paintings, the origins of which and the place which they originally occupied in the Monastery are unknown.

The katholikon has mosaics and wall-paintings of exceptional artistic quality, while the Chapel of the Aghioi Anargyroi has only wall-paintings. The mosaics of the katholikon – the only ones to have survived on the Holy Mountain – given the nature of the materials and the technique, both of which were very costly, are limited to four subjects, of which three are to be found in the katholikon itself and one in the Chapel of St Nicholas. By way of contrast, the wall-paintings cover the whole of the surfaces of the katholikon and of the Chapel of the Aghioi Anargyroi. In chronological terms, they range from the late 12th century to the first half of the 19th century1. The fragments and the wall-paintings of the Byzantine period with which we shall deal represent the dominant trends in high-quality art of Late Comnenus and Palaeologue painting. Indeed, the wall-paintings of the exonarthex of the katholikon, a part of which we have attributed to the workshop of the legendary Thessaloniki artist Manuel Panselinos, are a masterpiece of the Palaeologue renaissance.