Byzantium’s Other Empire: Trebizond

24 June 2016 - 18 September 2016

Curator: Prof. Antony Eastmond

Trebizond, that ‘long-anticipated city of the Komnenians with its soft and melodious name’ (to quote Jakob Fallmerayer) has long lured scholars, attracted by its unique combination of Byzantine familiarity and Anatolian foreignness. From 1204 to 1461 the city was at the heart of an Empire that proudly proclaimed its inheritance of Byzantine power, but simultaneously stood apart from it; a Greek Emirate surrounded by Turkish and Caucasian states.

Focusing on the church of Hagia Sophia in Trebizond, with its unusual architecture, unique sculptural decoration and extraordinary wall paintings, this exhibition reveals the ways in which these tensions were expressed in public in the monuments of the empire. It draws extensively on the photograph and drawing archives of David and June Winfield, held in the Conway Library at the Courtauld Institute of Art. The Winfields restored the church from 1959-63, in a project masterminded by David Talbot Rice, and the exhibition also includes Talbot Rice’s photographs from 1929, as well as those of other early scholars who visited Trabzon, notably Gabriel Millet in 1893 and Fyodor Uspenskii in 1917. Between them, these scholars recorded the city, its palaces, churches and monasteries. They provide glimpses of a lost empire and of the city of Trabzon which has been transformed in the decades since their visits.



2013 Exhibitions