ne of the most important and precisely dated monuments of the 15th century is the monastery of the Virgin Pantanassa in Mistra. The church, founded in 1428 by John Phrangopoulos, an administrative officer of the despotes Theodore II, is decorated with exceptionally fine frescoes. Even though its iconographic programme faithfully follows that of the church of the Evangelistria and its representations almost exactly copy their counterparts in the Virgin Peribleptos, the visitor is impressed by the style of painting of the Pantanassa frescoes, which reflect the creative spirit and innovatory conception of the artist who produced them.
The difficult political and economic situation
that prevailed in the small state of the Palaiologoi just before its
conquest by the Turks also influenced the development of monumental painting. Already since the end of the 14th century, a number of prominent painters had begun to move from the Capital to other areas, where they continued to work. A characteristic example is that of Theophanes the Greek, who worked in Novgorod and Moscow until the beginning of the 15th century. Theophanes created a school of Russian painting and his art was carried on by worthy successors, such as Andrej Rublev. Several painters from the Capital came and settled in
As a result, the metropolitan tendencies and traditions of Palaiologan painting were transplanted to Crete and, in the first half of the century, a large number of exceptionally fine pictorial ensembles were created there. The monuments decorated by the Phokas brothers at Embaros (1435/6), at Avdou (1445) and at Ano Syme, Viannos (1453), as well as at the Balsamonerou monastery and the church of the Virgin at Sklaverochori, constitute characteristic examples of this art, which was to take root on the island and create a school that would produce a large number of distinguished painters. It was they, thenceforth, who would carry on and breathe new life into the tradition of Byzantine art during the years of Ottoman rule.