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Press release

Design Motifs in Byzantine Art
August 6, 2013–August 3, 2014

Location: Gallery 302

Fifteen medieval textiles, textile fragments, and articles of apparel—created between the fourth and ninth centuries and bearing decorative motifs such as flowers, grapevines, crosses of various kinds, birds, beasts, and humans—will be featured in the installation Design Motifs in Byzantine Art, opening August 6 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among the wide variety of human images are those of a shepherd and a warrior, faces of the retinue of Dionysus, and personifications of Spring and Victory.

Accompanying the works will be photographs of objects with similar motifs that are installed in galleries of Byzantine art nearby, in order to encourage visitors to find the works and recognize the popularity of their design motifs, which recurred throughout the Byzantine world in media ranging from textiles to luxurious silverware and everyday ceramics, and from floor mosaics to elaborate luxury goods carved in ivory. 

The exhibition will include textiles that entered the collection of the Metropolitan in 1889 and 1890—by purchase through public subscription and by gifts from early collectors and donors who were excited by the relatively recent discovery of textiles in burial grounds in Egypt, where the dry climate aided in their preservation. Decorated tunic fragments will be displayed with a pair of leather boots handsomely patterned in gold, and typical of luxury goods of their day. These works were among the Museum’s earliest acquisitions. Because textiles are sensitive to light, many have never before been shown or are seldom put on view. 
The installation was organized by Brandie Ratliff, Research Associate for Byzantine Art, with Helen C. Evans, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art, Department of Medieval Art. 

It will be featured on the Museum’s website at

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June 3, 2013

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