Edda Vardanyan

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2013/2014
discipline Art History
Senior Researcher at the Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts of the Republic of Armenia

Research project

Pictures of Ancestors: the Theme of Christ Genealogy in the Ideology and Art of the 13th and 14th centuries


The depiction of Christ genealogy appears in the Armenian miniature painting at the end of the 12th century. This phenomenon is connected with the founding of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and with the coronation of the first Cilician King Levon I. The two theological theses of the theme of Christ genealogy – the appearance in this world of the Incarnated Messiah and the royal origin of Christ – are getting this subject associated with the royal ideology, a subject which first developed as portraits of Christ’s ancestors, and, from the end of the 13th century, as the Jesse Tree, according to the messianic prophecy of Isaiah (11, 1-2). The pictorial expression of the “Lineage of Holy Origin” became the symbol of the “ideal sovereign cult”, also developed in the liturgy, in the literary and exegetical works which express the royal ideology and the theology of power. At the same epoch the same phenomenon was observed in the kingdoms of South-Eastern Europe, namely in Serbia, during an analogous movement. The political conception of the theme of Christ genealogy, as a general phenomenon, will be studied in the light of researches o similar initiatives in the West at the time of Crusades (stained-glass windows of the Saint-Denis Basilica and the Cathedral of Chartres, Western manuscripts).      

In the 14th century, after the fall of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, the conception of the “sacred royalty” was identified to the supreme ecclesiastic power. The theme of Christ genealogy expressed the ecclesiastical and political tendencies, and reflected meditations upon the connection between State and Church functions.

The project is aimed to the study of the iconography of Christ genealogy in medieval Armenia, within the context of political ideology, as well as monarchic and ecclesiastic philosophy.




Edda Vardanyan is Senior Researcher at the Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts of the Republic of Armenia in the department of Art History and the History of Scriptoria. Since 2002, she is an associated scholar at the Centre d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance (Paris).  She holds a Ph.D. in Art Hisrory from the Academy of Sciences of the Republich of Armenia and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne). 


Selected publications


Reflets d'Arménie : manuscrits et art religieux / Reflections of Armenia : manuscripts and religious art, catalogue of exhibition, ACHCByz, Paris, 2012.


‘Aghtamar. Capitale du royaume du Vaspourakan’, with Claude Mutafian, in P. Donabédian and C. Mutafian (eds),Les douze capitales d'Arménie, Somogy éditions d'art, Paris, 2010, pp. 241-247.


‘Un manuscrit arménien illustré du xve siècle de la Bibliothèque Nationale de France’, in B. Der Mugrdechian (ed.), Between Paris and Fresno. Armenian Studies in Honor of Dickran Kouymjian, Mazda Publishers, 2008, pp. 91-116.


‘Les manuscrits du Vaspourakan’, Armenia Sacra, catalogue of exhibition Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2007, pp. 340-344.


‘Les manuscrits peints tardifs (XVIe – XVIIIe siècle)’, Armenia Sacra, catalogue of exhibition Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2007, pp. 385-387.


‘Les Amulettes’, Arménie. La magie de l’écrit, catalogue of exhibition Centre de la Vieille Charité de Marseille, Paris, 2007, pp. 123-125.


Hakob’s Gospels : the Life and Work of an Armenian Artist of the Sixteenth Century,  with T.Greenwood, London, 2006.


Un Machtoc’ d’ordination et de sacre royal du XVe siècle’, Revue des Etudes Arméniennes, vol. 29, Paris, 2004, pp. 167-233.


‘Un Psautier arménien illustré du XVe siècle’, Handes Amsorya, Zeitschrift für armenische Philologie, Wien, 2001, pp. 258-279.


senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Sociology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Literature and Music
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Anthropology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Paris Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Sociology