Athens: Byzantine Art, Kapnikarea from the W.

Department Archive
Collection BSA SPHS Image Collection
Reference No. BSA SPHS 01/0291.1522
Level Item
Description Glass negative, approximately full plate size, a copy negative.
Dimensions 19 x 12.5 cm
Place Panagia Kapnikarea
Dates Latest 1897
Donor/Creator Leaf, Mr Walter
Scope and Content The original description in the SPHS register reads: "Athens: Byzantine art. Kapnikarea from the W.".
Notes Unknown date, but based on numerous images donated by Walter Leaf that were catalogued SPHS 1502 to 1608 that appeared in the 1897 slide catalogue in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, it probably dates no later than 1897.
Further information Panagia Kapnikarea is also known as the ‘princess’ church’, perhaps in association with an Athenian empress of Byzantium, or as the ‘Virgin of Prentzas’ after the homonymous guerrilla chief of the 1821 War of Independence, who added the side-chapel of Hagia Barbara to the north of the building. It is a four-columned cross-in-square church with dome, narthex and a later (late 11th c.) exonarthex with a small colonnaded porch added to the south entrance in the 12th c.

In terms of architecture it follows the middle Byzantine church-building tradition of the Greek mainland (‘Greek School’): instead of pure brick From the early 11th c. Greek builders at least use a cloisonné facing. The stone masonry along the base of the walls has been arranged into a series of large crosses. Dentil courses and ornamental bricks with pseudo-Kufic decorative patterns are employed with economy in the monument. On these grounds, the church can be placed about 1050, later than churches with elaborate ornamental designs in the cloisonné masonry. The neo-Byzantine frescoes of the church were painted by the renowned Modern Greek painter Photis Kontoglou (1895-1965) and his workshop.