Ancient Greek & Byzantine Art

The annual Dr. John and Helen Collis Lecture brings nationally and internationally recognized experts in the field of art history and archeology to discuss new scholarship, museum exhibitions, and archaeological discoveries. Topics alternate between Ancient Greek and Byzantine art every other year.

The annual Dr. John and Helen Collis Lecture is made possible through the Dr. John and Helen Collis Family Endowment. The endowment is the first of its kind at the museum, as it presents an annual lecture dedicated to a particular art historical emphasis. Additional support for this lecture comes from the Hellenic Preservation Society (HPS) of Northeastern Ohio. HPS is a non-profit organization whose focus is to preserve the Hellenic legacy that will promote the Greek experience through education, collection and preservation. Dr. John and Helen Collis are both members of the society.


The Hellenic Preservation Society of Northeastern Ohio
Sunday, September 26, 2021, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Saint Catherine’s Monastery is located in Sinai, a place associated with well-known events narrated in the Old Testament, making the region the ultimate locus sanctus (holy place). Built in Egypt in the mid-sixth century by Emperor Justinian on the site of Moses’s Burning Bush at the foot of Mount Sinai, the fortified monastery remains intact to this day. In this lecture, Maria Vassilaki investigates how and when the Sinai landscape was transformed from a mere background setting into an independent composition.

Maria Vassilaki, Professor Emerita, Byzantine Art History, University of Thessaly (Volos, Greece), and Member of the Benaki Museum Board of Trustees (Athens, Greece)
Sunday, September 29, 2019, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Beginning in the fifth century BC, Medusa became increasingly anthropomorphic and feminine, undergoing a visual transformation from grotesque to beautiful. Concurrently a similar shift occurred in representations of other mythical female hybrid creatures, such as sphinxes, sirens, and the sea monster Scylla.

Kiki Karoglou, Associate Curator of Greek and Roman Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Sunday, September 30, 2018, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

In this lecture, Professor Eastmond will use the portrait as a starting point to consider the nature of originality in Byzantine art. The Byzantine court has long been associated with the dead hand of rigid, stultifying administration, yet it commissioned and created some of the most beautiful and complex art of the medieval world. Can bureaucracy drive creativity?

Antony Eastmond, A. G. Leventis Professor of Byzantine Art History and Dean & Deputy Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
Sunday, September 24, 2017, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Athenian (Attic) vase painting is the largest body of pictorial imagery to have survived from ancient Greece. Depictions of mythology, religious cult, and daily life offer a window on Athenian society, but their selective and often ambiguous character leave many questions unanswered. One of the principal means by which scholars have studied Attic vases has been through close analysis of their style, allowing for the attribution of individual works to the hands of specific, usually anonymous painters.

Dr. J. Michael Padgett, Curator of Ancient Art, Princeton University Art Museum
Sunday, September 25, 2016, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

The lecture will focus on aspects of the Virgin that gave her the position she holds today and held for many centuries in Orthodox Christianity. Based on surviving visual and textual evidence, it will present some of the reasons and historical circumstances that led to her prominent and exalted position.

Dr. Ioli Kalavrezou, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine Art at Harvard University
Dinos (detail), c. 520–515 BC. Circle of the Antimenes Painter (Greek, Attic). Black-figure terracotta; d. 50.8 cm, h. 33.6 cm. John L. Severance Fund 1971.46.
Sunday, September 27, 2015, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

The realms of Poseidon encompassed virtually every aspect of life in the ancient Mediterranean world, from mythology and religious cult to daily activities.

Dr. Seth D. Pevnick, Chief Curator and Richard E. Perry Curator of Greek and Roman Art, the Tampa Museum of Art
Sunday, September 28, 2014, 2:00 pm

Dr. Antonaras will give an outline of the history of the Byzantine Empire and the shapes, forms, and uses of glass objects present in Byzantine society will be illustrated.

Dr. Anastasios Antonaras, archaeologist-museologist at the Museum of Byzantine Culture, Thessaloniki, Greece
Sunday, September 29, 2013, 2:00 pm

Dr. Claire L. Lyons, Acting Senior Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum, presents masterpieces of ancient art from Sicily.

Dr. Claire L. Lyons, Acting Senior Curator of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum
Sunday, September 30, 2012, 2:00 pm

An icon recently acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Art makes the best introduction to this lecture. The icon shows the Virgin and Child and can be attributed to a Cretan painter working in fifteenth-century Venetian Crete.

Maria Vassilaki, Professor in the History of Byzantine Art at the University of Thessaly, Greece; Scientific Advisor to the Benaki Museum, Athens
Sunday, September 25, 2011, 2:00 pm

Theatrical performance emerged in ancient Athens from the worship of Dionysos, the god of wine and theater.

Mary Louise Hart, Associate Curator of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum