The Marciana National Library hosts the exhibition “The last days of Byzantium: splendor and decline of an empire” until March 5, 2019.
The exhibition was conceived and produced by the Diocesan Museum of München-Freising, in collaboration with the Marciana National Library of Venice, which hosts the exhibition in the historic Salone della Libreria Sansoviniana. The curator is entrusted to Carmen Roll under the direction of Christoph Kürzeder, with the collaboration of Susy Marcon of the Marciana National Library and the assistance of Pietro Tondello and with the organizational support of the Swiss Lab for Culture Projects in the person of Lidia and Paolo Carrion and of Annalisa Bruni of the Library National Marciana.
The Louvre Museum, the Uffizi Galleries, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, the Diocesan Museum of Palma de Mallorca also contribute to the project. The intent is to retrace the destiny of a glorious empire that has come to its end.
Against the background of the international political events leading to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the exhibition illustrates in eight sections the significance of the journey of Emperor Manuel II and of his diplomatic gifts, showing the intense cultural exchange between Europe – and in particular Venice – and Byzantium at the dawn of Humanism.
The heart of the exhibition is the so-called “icon of St. Luke” by Freising, a Byzantine work depicting the Virgin Mary entitled “Hope of the desperate”. The icon is emblematic of the tragic situation in which Byzantium stood, fighting with the Ottomans, between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. To obtain military support, the emperor Manuel II Palaeologus (1350-1425) undertook a diplomatic trip to the West between 1399 and 1403, during which he brought with him the icon and many other objects of extreme value to donate to the powerful Europeans.
The Byzantine emperor Manuel II donated it to the Duke of Milan around 1400, as compensation for the help in the fight against the Ottomans.According to the Diocesan Museum of München-Freising, the icon came into the hands of a Veronese family, who first emigrated to England and then to Bavaria. Nicodemus della Scala, bishop of Freising, donated it to Freisinger Mariendom. At the beginning of the 17th century, the icon was framed in Baroque style with angels and a silver frame.
On this exceptional occasion, for the first time in more than six centuries, the icon of Saint Luke returns to Venice, the city of its first landing in Europe.
Location: Marciana National Library, San Marco, Venice
Opening: from November 25, 2018 to March 5, 2019
Schedule: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Ticket: up to € 20