Magdalene Breidenthal

Mary Seeger O’Boyle Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2021- December 16, 2022

  • Degree
    Ph.D., Art History, Yale University, 2019
    Leaving “Heaven on Earth”: The Visual Codes of Middle Byzantine Church Exits
    Research Project
    The Exit Image in Byzantium: Exodos, Eschatology, and Environment
Contact Info

Magdalene Breidenthal is a historian of Byzantine art. Her research focuses on monumental art and viewer response, the relationship between art and devotion, and questions pertaining to thresholds and mobility in sacred spaces and environments. Breidenthal received graduate degrees in art history from the Courtauld Institute of Art (MA, 2009) and Yale University (PhD, 2019). From 2015-2018 her dissertation research was supported by a Paul Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Prior to her fellowship at Princeton, Breidenthal taught art history courses at Fordham University and Queens College, CUNY.

About the Research Project

The Exit Image in Byzantium: Exodos, Eschatology, and Environment

The project argues for the significance of exit imagery at church thresholds in medieval Byzantium. Beginning in the decades following the end of the Iconoclastic Controversy in 843, visual and written sources show that monumental frescoes and mosaics were often prominently displayed around points of egress from the naos and narthex; their subjects tended to be eschatological, theophanic, and/or hagiographical in theme. Such imagery, I argue, framed departure not as an abrupt rupture with sacred space but rather as a process that forged multivalent temporalities and connections between ritualized interiors and surrounding areas. In my approach, I investigate the ways in which the subject matter, composition, and placement of exit imagery in relation to doors and windows engaged the sensory and metaphorical aspects of exodos (“going out”), understood in terms of death, community, and the natural world.

Previous Roles

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow
    2021 - 2022