In the period from the 11th to the 18th centuries, the art of wall paintings are in remarkable and important works in the island of Zakynthos. Great names of hagiographers worked in the churches of Zakynthos, which before the catastrophic earthquake of 1953. The artistic treasures that exist today prove the glorious past of the place, but also the deeply rooted in the hearts of the Zakynthian religious feeling. The small but large historical island followed Byzantine, post-Byzantine hagiography, accepted the influence of the Cretan school. In addition, the island accepted the western influences due to its geographic location and the long period of Venetian domination, and as a result the ‘Ionian School of art’ was formed.
In the 15th century, a unique style of religious painting known as the Cretan School gradually emerged, determining the post-Byzantine Orthodox art as a synthesis of the Byzantine tradition with the Italian Renaissance and later Baroque. In a similar historical context, the wall paintings evolved in the Ionian Islands. The spirit of Cretan artists in Zakynthos facilitated the creation of suitable conditions for the boom of an autonomous artistic style, with a strong acceptance of Italian models, of the late 17th and especially the 18th century. In the early 18th century in the Ionian Islands and specifically in Zakynthos the conditions were already mature to adopt the Italian style of late Renaissance and Baroque art in religious paintings. Finally, during the 19th century, which was marked by major political upheavals, a high level of civilization in all fields of art and literature flourished in the Ionian islands and especially to Zakynthos. In the midst of the 20th century (1953) a large earthquake destroyed many of the island’s monuments. The few ones which survived the destruction are in a very bad state of preservation with no road access even today.
The ecclesiastical wall paintings of Zakynthos are unique in the history of the modern Greek culture and it is imperative to be studied in depth.