Byzantine mosaic in the Hagia Sophia
I am just in awe of the artists who created these mosaics. The various mosaics in the Hagia Sophia date from different eras and are not all created equal... this one is one of the finest.
Look at that amazing shading of flesh tones, the tiny detailing of the beard, and the modeling of the contours of neck and cheeks. Check it out in the large size...
In contrast, the robe (which you can only see a corner of here) is very formulaic, with heavy black lines and stark shading defining the folds of cloth. The hair (as opposed to the beard) is also more formulaic, yet sublter than the robes.
I wonder if different artists worked on different portions... the most skilled doing the face itself... or if the same artist did the whole thing, and was less interested or more constrained when it came to the robes.
Another detail that I cropped for here is the subtle patterning of the gold background. The fan-like cloud shapes have echoes all the way to Japan.
(I uploaded this just at this moment to jump into the fray in the Connect pool, but then I decided it was a portrait so I pulled it).