Icon and Ballad

Icons and ballads are not in the mainstream of European painting and literature, but they have a direct appeal to us which belies their remote origins. Icons originated in the Middle East around the sixth century AD, but the ones we are familiar with, like the Virgin of Vladimir, derive from the Byzantine Christian empire and date from the eleventh century onwards. This was a pivotal era, the time when Western and Eastern churches split, and when the races of northern Europe were being converted to Christianity. Strongly influenced by the Greek Orthodox Church, the tradition of icon painting spread,…

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