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The term refers to the art of the Eastern Christian empire, the capital city of which was Constantinople or Byzantium, now part of Turkey and called Istanbul.

Byzantine art preserved, albeit in stereotypic formulas, many compositions and optical discoveries of Greco-Roman art: rendering highlights, for example, as an arbitrary network of gold or white lines independent of a light source. It was thus an important influence on Western European, notably Italian, art - especially enamels and mosaic, but also painting.