A Komnenos Mosaic in Hagia Sophia: On Its Dating and Iconology Ayasofya’da Komnenos Mozaiği: Tarihi ve İkonolojisi Üzerine


Sanat Tarihi Yilligi, vol.32, pp.233-248, 2023 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 32
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.26650/sty.2023.1246461
  • Journal Name: Sanat Tarihi Yilligi
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.233-248
  • Keywords: Alexios Komnenos, Byzantine art, Hagia Sophia, iconography, Komnenos mosaics
  • Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Affiliated: Yes


This paper presents an examination of the Komnenos mosaic in the south gallery of Hagia Sophia by focusing on its dating and iconography. The mosaic often dates to, around 1122 and depicts Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos, Empress Irene, and their son, the co-emperor Alexios, on either side of the Mother Mary and Christ the Child. The dating is based on the coronation of Alexios, which is thought to have occurred in 1122. Byzantine scholars further argue that the mosaic shows a donation Emperor John II Komnenos made to Hagia Sophia, based on the purse held by the emperor. However, documents show the coronation date of Alexios to have actually occurred in 1119. Moreover, no historical evidence indicates Emperor John II Komnenos to have given any financial support to Hagia Sophia. When considering these facts, the study aims to offer a reexamination of the mosaic. In this context, the paper argues the mosaic to depict the coronation ceremony of Alexios Komnenos, and to be a reflection of the dynastic policy of John II Komnenos, opposing both his sister, Anna Komnena, and brother Isaac Komnenos’ claims to the throne. Consequently, this paper reveals references that tie the mosaic to this context in terms of iconology.