Virgin Mary Mosaic

Mosaic of the Virgin Mary and Child (detail), circa 9th-10th centuries C.E. In situ glass and marble tesserae mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey.

No imagery permeates Christian art more than that of the Madonna and child—a representation of the Virgin Mary with her child Jesus. For over a thousand years, through the Byzantine, medieval, and early Renaissance periods, the Madonna was the most common subject of artworks created for Christian religious veneration. This monumental mosaic is from the ceiling in the apse of the Byzantine Hagia Sophia basilica in modern-day Istanbul, Turkey. It was created using glass and marble tesserae (cubes). Notice the exceptional serenity and tenderness in the facial features and gestures of both the mother and the child.
Mosaic of the Virgin Mary and Child in the apse of the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey.

Relating to the Byzantine empire, which ruled the Eastern Mediterranean from the fifth century CE to 1453; its capital was Byzantium (modern Istanbul).

Of or relating to the Middle Ages, generally from the fifth century to the fifteenth century C.E. and overlapping somewhat with late antiquity.

Artwork composed of small pieces of material—glass, stone, pottery—arranged in patterns or depicting persons and scenes.

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