Diocese to honor Armenian art expert

Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016
Contact: Jake Goshert, Coordinator of Information Services
Tel: (212) 686-0710 Ext. 60; Fax: (212) 779-3558
E-mail: [email protected]

June 8, 2004


A tribute to Prof. Thomas Mathews, a specialist in Armenian and
Byzantine art, will take place on Thursday evening, June 10, 2004,
at the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) in New
York City.

Cosponsored by the Diocese’s Krikor and Clara Zohrab Resource Center
and the St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, the evening will feature two
keynote speakers — Dr. Helen Evans, curator of medieval art at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Dr. Sylvie Merian, reference librarian
at the Pierpont Morgan Library — who are former students and current
colleagues of Prof. Mathews.

The retiring Prof. Mathews, the John Langeloth Loeb Professor of the
History of Art at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, has
done extensive study on Armenian and Byzantine art and architecture.
The evening is an opportunity to recognize the great contribution he
has made to the field of Armenian studies.

Dr. Mathews is the editor and co-author (with Avedis K. Sanjian) of
“Armenian Gospel Iconography: The Tradition of the Glajor Gospel,” the
first monographic study of a single Armenian manuscript. This work
was a collaborative study on an illustrated Armenian gospel book of
the 14th century which is owned by UCLA. Prof. Mathews also co-wrote
a second volume on this gospel, to accompany the exhibition of the
Gladzor (Glajor) Gospel at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

In the 1980s, Prof. Mathews conceived of an exhibit showcasing Armenian
illumination, book-making, and binding using collections in the United
States. The Pierpont Morgan Library in New York enthusiastically
adopted the idea, and more than 60,000 visitors saw it in 1994 at
both the Morgan Library and the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore.

In conjunction with the exhibit, Prof. Mathews co-edited “Treasures in
Heaven: Armenian Illuminated Manuscripts,” an introduction to the art
and history of Armenian manuscript painting, and helped to organize
a symposium which resulted in a second volume of papers titled,
“Treasures in Heaven: Armenian Art, Religion, and Society”.

Some of his articles on Armenian themes are assembled in “Art and
Architecture in Byzantium and Armenia: Liturgical and Exegetical
Approaches” (1995), while others appear in “East of Byzantium: Syria
and Armenia in the Formative Period” (1982), which he co-edited.
He is the author of the provocative work, “The Clash of Gods:
A Reinterpretation of Early Christian Art” (1993; revised 1999),
“Byzantium: From Antiquity to the Renaissance” (1998), “The Byzantine
Churches of Istanbul: A Photographic Survey” (1976), “The Early
Churches of Constantinople: Architecture and Liturgy” (1971), and
“Art and Religion: Faith, Form and Reform” (1986).

He is a member of the Association Internationale des Etudes
Armeniennes, as well as the Medieval Academy of America. Among his
many honors are the J. Clawson Mills Fellowship of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art (1996), a National Endowment for the Humanities grant,
(1994), and a Hagop Kevorkian Fund research grant (1991). Dr. Mathews
received his doctorate degree in art history from NYU in 1970.


A scholar of early Christian, Byzantine, and Armenian art, Dr. Helen
Evans has been involved with the Metropolitan Museum since 1986.
She was co-curator of the major exhibition “The Glory of Byzantium”
in 1997, and curator of the current exhibit, “Byzantium: Faith and
Power (1261-1557)”. Her dissertation at NYU was on “Manuscript
Illumination at the Armenian Patriarchate at Hromkla and the West.”
She served as co-curator of the “Treasures in Heaven: Armenian
Illuminated Manuscripts” exhibition.

Dr. Sylvie Merian has extensively researched, published and lectured
on Armenian codicology, binding, and illumination, as well as on the
history of the book. She contributed extensively to the exhibition
“Treasures in Heaven,” and was a co-author of the accompanying

The program and reception on June 10 will take place at 7:30 p.m. in
the formal reception room (Tahlij) of the Eastern Diocese (630
Second Ave., at 34th St., in New York City). The event is free and
open to the public, but reservations are necessary. Please e-mail
[email protected] or call (212) 686-0710, ext. 26.

— 6/8/04

# # #