Toward the end of the 9th century, Byzantine religious art entered its "Golden Age," often called the Macedonian Renaissance after the ruling dynasty, which begun with the reign of Emperor Basil I the Macedonian in 867. The art of the period, in both subject matter and style, often draws directly and deliberately on the Hellenistic and Roman classical heritage. Monumental art again exhibited relatively naturalistic and strongly modeled three-dimensional figures, often characterized by a restrained dignity and noble grandeur, as in the mosaic of the Virgin and Child (867) still in place in the apse of Hagia Sophia.
The Macedonian emperors were followed by the Komnenos dynasty, who were also great patrons of arts, and with their support Byzantine artists created masterpieces at Daphni and at Nerezi near Skopje.
The greatest legacy of Byzantine art is that it made possible the Renaissance in western Europe. By the 11th century the art of Byzantine icons was widely diffused from Russia and Ukraine to Norman Sicily and Venice in Italy. By the 12th century the influence of Byzantium on western European art reached its zenith and played a truly generative role in the development within Romanesque Art of a revival in realistic portraiture and greater naturalism in style and humanism in content.