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Edda Vardanyan

Senior Researcher
Institut Matenadaran, Arménie
Pictures of Ancestors: the Theme of Christ Genealogy in the Ideology and Art of the 13th and 14th centuries
01 September 2013 -
30 June 2014

Edda Vardanyan obtained her PhD in Art History, in 2001, from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne). She is a scholar at the Institute of Ancient Manuscripts of the Armenian Republic (Matenadaran of Erevan). Since 2002, she is an associated scholar at the Centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance (Paris). 

Programme EURIAS à l’IEA de Paris

The depiction of Christ genealogy appears in the Armenian miniature painting at the end of the 12th century. This phenomenon is connected with the founding of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and with the coronation of the first Cilician King Levon I. The two theological theses of the theme of Christ genealogy – the appearance in this world of the Incarnated Messiah and the royal origin of Christ – are getting this subject associated with the royal ideology, a subject which first developed as portraits of Christ’s ancestors, and, from the end of the 13th century, as the Jesse Tree, according to the messianic prophecy of Isaiah (11, 1-2). The pictorial expression of the “Lineage of Holy Origin” became the symbol of the “ideal sovereign cult”, also developed in the liturgy, in the literary and exegetical works which express the royal ideology and the theology of power. At the same epoch the same phenomenon was observed in the kingdoms of South-Eastern Europe, namely in Serbia, during an analogous movement. The political conception of the theme of Christ genealogy, as a general phenomenon, will be studied in the light of researches o similar initiatives in the West at the time of Crusades (stained-glass windows of the Saint-Denis Basilica and the Cathedral of Chartres, Western manuscripts).      

In the 14th century, after the fall of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, the conception of the “sacred royalty” was identified to the supreme ecclesiastic power. The theme of Christ genealogy expressed the ecclesiastical and political tendencies, and reflected meditations upon the connection between State and Church functions.

The project is aimed to the study of the iconography of Christ genealogy in medieval Armenia, within the context of political ideology, as well as monarchic and ecclesiastic philosophy.

Middle ages