Early Christian Art After 200 AD to early 5th Century - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Early Christian Art After 200 AD to early 5th Century

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  1. Early Christian Art After 200 AD to early 5th Century

  2. New Vocabulary-- Catacombs Altar Nave Apse Narthex Transcept Codex

  3. 323 AD, Constantine moved the Roman Empire to Byzantium, Greek town that became Constantinople and then Istanbul- acknowledged new power of Eastern Provinces and was symbolic of the Empire’s newfound Christianity • Split empire in half- Western half fell to Germanic tribes • Split Church in half- Pope in Rome and Patriarch in Byzantium- Catholicism v. Orthodox Church • Pope was dependent on civic authority while the Patriarch was both political and religious leader • Must look at art under two headings- Early Christian Art- prior to the splitting of the church (first 5 centuries AD) • Byzantine Art- Eastern part of empire, a certain style- became an artistic differentiation- Western Empire art became the Middle Ages • Eastern Art- became more and more oriental, not included in Middle Ages art- more Greek

  4. Painted Ceiling, 4th C. AD. Catacombs of SS. Pietra • Early Christian art found mostly in Catacombs- Christian underground tombs-usually not found in Rome, but in older Christian strongholds in North Africa and Near East • Catacomb paintings are similar to Roman painting, but a much more symbolic meaning • Circles suggest the dome of heaven, inscribed with the cross- Shepherd in the middle stands for Christ, old testament imagery mixed with new testament

  5. Section, Old St. Peter’s, Begun 333 AD • The Basilica served as a model for new Churches • Constantine focused on building many new churches for new Christians! • Basilica is a combination assembly hall, temple, and private house • Similar to Roman model- long nave flanked by aisles and lit with Cleristory windows, apse, wooden ceiling Plan, Old St. Peter’s

  6. Old Roman Basilica served as a fitting example because of its large, uninterrupted interior spaces for a large number of Christians and an Imperial feel that linked Christianity with its new role as state religion Interior, Old St. Peter’s (no longer standing) • The building had to be given a new focus to make it appropriate for Christianity- the altar, which was placed in front of the apse at the eastern end of the nave, entrances were moved from the side to the western end- became a single longitudinal axis

  7. S. Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, 533-49 • Plain,unadorned exterior, just a shell for the interior- this is the exact opposite of the Classical Greek idea of the Temple • Interior of the church is completely opposite the outside

  8. Interior, S. Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, 533-49 • Pure light and color, have left behind the everyday world • Mosaics and marble surfaces

  9. Domed buildings popular- round or polygonal buildings topped with a dome- taken from Roman bath design- became baptisteries (bath was a sacred rite) and funerary chapels • Sta. Constanza (Constantine’s daughter)- domed cylindrical core lit by cleristory windows, ring shaped aisle or ambulatory Sta. Constanza, Rome, c 350

  10. 4th C. Building of churches- huge areas to be decorated, little is left to know about paintings, but more masterful than catacomb artists- paintings spread over nave walls, triumphal arch, and apse • Mosaics- great new art form –composed of small pieces of colored material set in plaster- used by the Sumerians, Greeks, Romans (Battle of Issus)- these were floor mosaics- color lacked brilliance since colors were limited to those found in nature • New mosaics made from colored glass (not seen before) – far greater color range and intensity- glass was shiny and became tiny reflectors of light • Greco-Roman- guiding principle of architecture was of balance of opposing forces (contrapposto)- sculpture fit this principle • Early Christian- weightiness of architecture- thickness was hidden- bland, expressionless walls needed mosaics like greek architecture needed sculpture • surface is denied to create an illusion of unreality (Roman painting- more of an illusion of reality)- a realm of the symbolic • narrative scenes show the illusionistic traditions being transformed by new content- condensing complex action into a visual form to be read at a distance- like column of Trajan- but because these are biblical scenes of holiness, the reader of the artwork is already expected to know the story- so it can be more symbolic than realistic

  11. Prototypes of mosaics were illustrated manuscripts- duplication of holy text on a vast scale -parchment became available in Greece (before that, papyrus was used in Egypt)- more durable- strong enough to be creased – a bound book is called a Codex 1st-4th century vellum codex replaced parchment scrolls- because there was no unrolling and rolling, illustrations could survive longer Vienna Genesis, 6th C, AD

  12. Vienna Genesis- • Written in silver (now turned black) on purple vellum), with brilliantly colored illustrations- • shows sequences of events in each illustration- progression of space becomes progression of time- • called continuous narration- goes back to Egypt and Mesopotamia- permits spacial economy Vienna Genesis, 6th C. AD

  13. Sarcophagus of Julius Bassus, 359 AD • Sculpture took a secondary role during early Christian art due to prohibition of graven images in the bible- seemed too Pagan- became less monumental-smaller scale • Early sculpture found on sarcophagi

  14. Detail, Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, 359 AD • Collonaded front split into compartments of old and new testement scenes • All scenes stress the divine Christ rather than the human nature of Christ- suffering is only hinted at • Has a classicistic feel to it- in the Greek tradition, but doll-like quality like the arch of Constantine

  15. Diptych designed for private ownership- • pagan subjects, reproduced but no longer understood- borrowed subject matter, but seen in relationship to Christ- • Very classicist in nature- Paganism was still in the culture, still aware of their pagan roots Priestess of Bacchus, 390-400

  16. Monumental sculpture was still popular with the emperors. • Continued he tradition of portraits of high officials • Interest in individualizations, but more interested in spiritual ideal rather than physical self- became more idealized and expressive • This reminds of us late Roman portraits but has a much more other-worldly quality- emphasized by the abstraction • Last gasp of Greek sculpture in the round Portrait of Eutropios,C. 450