Yazhu Wang


Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in art history at the University of Vienna; Master’s thesis with focus on Byzantine art with the title “Cretan School and the Virgin of the Passion by Andreas Ritzos”, supervised by Prof. Lioba Theis.

Research interests: Icon production in Venetian Crete (1211-1669) within the social context of cross-cultural interaction between the Byzantine East and the (mainly Italian) West; Iconographic and stylistic study of the Virgin Mary in Venetian Crete; Icon trade in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Current research project: “Madre della Consolazione” – iconographic and stylistic study, development and dissemination of a Byzantine icon type (working title). 
The representation of the “Madre della Consolazione” in bust format, holding the Christ child in her right arm (“Dexiokratusa”), while the Christ child is holding either a globe with cross, an open scroll with a Greek text or a closed scroll in his left hand, is a modified form of the Virgin Hodegetria. This hybrid form of icon representation combines both byzantine and western (mainly Italian) iconographic and stylistic features which results from the cross-cultural social context of the island of Crete, where the icon was created most probably by Nikolaos Tzafouris (documented 1487-1501) during the second half of the 15th century. The iconographic type of the “Madre della Consolazione” more than likely relies on a western, probably an Italian prototype, which has not yet been located and identified. The name itself is derived from the “Chiesa di Santa Maria della Consolazione” in Rome, but a prototype of the icon cannot be found in the church. Despite an abundance of recent studies on the Virgin Mary in Byzantium, there has been little investigation into what first spurred this iconographical innovation. My dissertation therefore pursues this question by exploring the origin and development of the “Madre della Consolazione” in both Byzantium and Western Europe (mainly Italy) before the 15th century. Furthermore, the terms “in foma greca”, “in forma latina” and “maniera greca” – that signify in which style the icons were to be executed in Venetian Crete for export to Western Europe and other countries in the Eastern Mediterranean – should be explained in more detail due to the unclear and divided interpretation in research so far.