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Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art. Chapter 13.1. Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art. Do you know why early Christians used art to express their religion? Have you ever seen a mosaic? The Roman Empire began to decline in the latter part of the second century.

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Early christian byzantine and islamic art

Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art

Chapter 13.1


Early christian byzantine and islamic art1

Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art

  • Do you know why early Christians used art to express their religion? Have you ever seen a mosaic?

  • The Roman Empire began to decline in the latter part of the second century.

  • The Christian Church gained power in the West. In the East the Roman Empire became the Byzantine Empire.

  • Christians, Muslims, and Jews developed a rich culture in which the arts flourished.


Early christian byzantine and islamic art2

Early Christian, Byzantine, and Islamic Art

  • In the wake of the Roman Empire, a new source of power was born – the Christian Church

  • The place of the Roman emperors was taken by popes: the Church was to play the dominant role in the 500 years following the decline of the classical period.

  • The Church’s influence eventually spread to touch on every aspect of life. Nowhere was this more evident than in visual artwork.


Early christian art

Early Christian Art

  • For many years, the Christian religion was not legal throughout the Roman Empire, resulting in hardship and persecution from its many followers.

  • Finally in 313 AD, Christianity was made legal when the emperor Constantine signed the Edict of Milan.

  • Pictures with hidden Christian meaning were being painted long before this time.


The catacombs

The Catacombs

  • Many of those earlier paintings were made on the stone walls of narrow underground passages.

  • When persecuted by Roman emperors, the Christians dug catacombs, or underground passageways, as places to hold religious services and bury their dead

  • In time, the catacombs grew into a vast maze of tunnels.

Catacombs in Rome


Early christians

Early Christians

  • The views of early Christians set them apart from those who believed in the Roman religion.

  • The Christians believed Christ to be the savior of all people; they hoped to join him in heaven after death as a reward for following his teachings.

  • They had little interest in gaining fame and fortune in the world. Instead they sought an eternal reward in the form of life after death.


Characteristics of early christian art

Characteristics of Early Christian Art

  • In their paintings of people, early Christian art showed little interest in the beauty, grace, and strength of the human body, which were so important to Greek and Roman artists.

  • Christian art was intended to illustrate the power of glory of Christ. It was also meant to tell, as clearly as possible, the story of his life on earth.

  • Christ’s life story was important because it was the model for people to follow as the surest way to attain salvation in Heaven.


Symbolism in early christian art

Symbolism in Early Christian Art

  • The early Christians’ view on life on earth as preparation for the hereafter is reflected in the artworks they produced.

  • These works may have appeared Roman, but the beliefs and ideas they passed on to other Christians were not Roman beliefs and ideas – they were Christian.

  • Christian artists used symbols as a kind of code. Familiar figures or signs were sued to represent something.


Symbolism in early christian art1

Symbolism in Early Christian Art

  • Catacomb paintings were filled with images of animals, birds, ad plants, which are also found in Roman art.

  • If there was a painting of a goldfinch a Roman just saw a bird where as a Christian would have remembered that the goldfinch ate thistles and thorns, plants that were on Christ’s crown during his death.

  • The goldfinch came to symbolize Christ’s death to early Christians.

  • Over time, birds, animals, and plants came to symbolize different Christian ideas. A dog = faithfulness

  • The artists main goal was to illustrate the Christian story as clearly as possible to make it easy for others to comprehend.


Good shepherd and the story of jonah artist unknown 4 th century ad

Good Shepherd and the Story of JonahArtist Unknown 4th Century AD

  • More than 1,650 years ago, an unknown Christian artist completed the a painting on the rough ceiling of a room in the catacombs.

  • The artist who painted this image borrowed heavily from art forms seen all over Rome, but were given new Christian meaning.

Good Shepherd and the Story of Jonah


Symbolism in the good shepherd

Symbolism in the Good Shepherd

  • The great circle was painted to represent heaven. Within this circle is a cross, the symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection.

  • The shepherd in the center circle represents Christ.

  • The sheep around him symbolize his faithful followers.

  • The lamb on Christ’s shoulders symbolizes those people who needed additional help on the difficult road to salvation.

  • The arms of the cross end in half circles in which the biblical story of Jonah and the whale is told. The story shows God’s power to protect the faithful.

  • Standing figures with their hands raised represent all the members of the Church pleading for God’s assistance and mercy.


Basilicas

Basilicas

  • Not long after the catacombs painting was completed, the status the Christians began to improve.

  • Christianity had spread rapidly across the Roman Empire, ad the emperor Constantine finally granted Christians the freedom to practice their faith openly.

  • A new kind of building was need for the large number of worshippers.

  • Again the Christians borrowed from the Romans in the use of the Basilica as their model.

  • Christian churches were intended as retreats from the real world, and where worshippers could take part in deeply spiritual events.

  • Exteriors were relatively simple but interiors were meant to be impact highly dramatic.

Sant’ Apollinare. Ravenna Italy


Mosaics

Mosaics

  • When eyes strayed from the altar, they rose to view the walls richly decorated with mosaics.

  • A mosaic is a decoration made with small pieces of glass and stone set in cement.

  • Christian artists placed mosaics on walls where light from windows and candles caused them to flicker and glow mysteriously.

  • From the few early Christian churches that have survived, it is clear that they served as a model for church architecture in western Europe.


Growth of byzantine culture west

Growth of Byzantine Culture (West)

  • After the eastern capital was established in Constantinople, the Roman Empire functioned as two separate sections. East and West, both with their own emperor.

  • In the west the, the emperors slowly lost their influence and prestige and after a long struggle fell to barbarian invaders and marked the end of the Classical era.

  • As the emperors lost their power as the Church assumed its place as the central authority in the West.

  • The Eastern part remained united and strong and came to be known and the Byzantine Empire.


The byzantine empire

The Byzantine Empire


Growth of byzantine culture east

Growth of Byzantine Culture (East)

  • The Eastern part remained united and strong and came to be known and the Byzantine Empire and continued to thrive over 1,000 years.

  • The city of Constantinople soon surpassed Rome in both size and wealth. It became the largest city in the medieval world and a cultural center with grand public buildings.

  • In Constantinople, Roman, Greek, and Eastern influences were blended to produce rich and brilliant art.

  • Above all this art glorified the Christian religion and served the needs of the Church. It set the standard for artistic excellence in Western Europe until the 12th century.


Byzantine architecture and mosaics

Byzantine Architecture and Mosaics

  • The best examples of the Byzantine style were great churches.

  • Western architects favored the hall-like basilica plan for their churches.

  • Eastern architects favored a central plan.


Hagia sophia

Hagia Sophia

  • Built in 6th century AD by the emperor Justinian

  • The greatest of the central plan churches.

  • Justinian hired two Greek math experts to design Hagia Sophia.

  • The finished church beautifully blends the engineering skills of the Romans with a Greek sensitivity for carefully balanced

  • Most impressive feature is the huge dome which is almost 100ft across and almost 31 feet higher than the dome in the Pantheon

  • Instead of thick walls the dome sits on 4 piers – massive vertical pillars.

  • This allowed them to use thinner walls and add more windows for interior light and has the appearance of weighing less.


Hagia sophia interior and exterior istanbul turkey 532 37ad

Hagia Sophia (Interior and Exterior)Istanbul, Turkey532-37AD


The mosaics of hagia sophia

The Mosaics of Hagia Sophia

  • Inside the dim lighting and shimmering surfaces combine to produce a dreamlike setting.

  • Walls of stone and marble are decorated gold, silver, ivory, and gems.

  • Churches like Hagia Sophia required special decoration on the interior.

  • Works of art had to be of bright colors and large enough to be seen from a distance.

  • Mosaics meet these special needs and became the trademark art style of the Byzantine church.

  • They were created to tell familiar stories from the Bible.


The virgin and child mosaic from hagia sophia istanbul turkey

The Virgin and ChildMosaic from Hagia SophiaIstanbul, Turkey

  • In Hagia Sophia, one notable mosaic shows the Virgin (Christ’s Mother) and the Christ child between two figures.

  • Figure on the left is Justinian and on the right is Constantine both presenting a small church and city.

  • Shows the emperors proclaiming their loyalty of the church and state to the Virgin and Child.


Vocab and quiz review

Vocab and Quiz Review

  • Catacombs – underground passageways

  • Mosaic – decoration made with small pieces of glass and stone set in cement

  • Piers –massive vertical pillars


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