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Early Christian and Byzantine Art

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Early Christian and Byzantine Art

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  1. Early Christian and Byzantine Art

  2. Greeks, and especially Romans produced art that was very realistic. Remember the beauty of the Greek and Roman sculpture

  3. Whereas, early Christian art was more concerned with Symbolic Representation.

  4. Early Christian Art Three key points of Early Christian Art: • Symbolic- express a religious thought or idea • Found on frescoed walls of catacombs outside Rome • Acceptance of the Christian religion created a need for new architecture- starting in the 4th century

  5. First three hundred years • Christianity began in the 1st century AD as a Jewish sect but quickly spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Although it was originally persecuted under the Roman empire, it would ultimately become the state religion. • Four decades later after Christ’s crucifixion, in 70 CE the Roman Army attacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple. • The destruction of the Temple further disconnected the two groups and caused them to spread out and travel to other lands. From this destruction emerged two main movements: rabbinical Judaism centered in local synagogues, and the Christian movement.

  6. Christianity travelled to Rome, and Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome possibly in 64 A. D. (though the place and date are not mentioned in the New Testament). Supposedly, Peter was crucified by Nero who blamed the Great Fire of Rome on the Christians (which conveniently allowed him to build his new 100-300 acres palace right in the centre of include a large lake, which was the future placement of the Colosseum). • For 250 years Christians suffered from sporadic persecutions for their refusal to worship the Roman emperor, considered treasonous and punishable by execution. • Some feel, they needed some places to meet secretly.

  7. Catacombs • The catacombs are the ancient underground cemeteries, used by the Christian and the Jewish communities, above all at Rome. The Christian catacombs, which are the most numerous, began in the second century and the excavating continued until the first half of the fifth. • Christians did not want to cremate their dead (as done by the Romans) due to their belief in bodily resurrection • In the beginning they were only burial places. Here the Christians gathered to celebrate their funeral rites, the anniversaries of the martyrs and of the dead. http://www.catacombe.roma.it/en/storia.html

  8. During the persecutions (until 313 A.D.), in exceptional cases, the catacombs were used as places of momentary refuge for the celebration of the Eucharist. They were not used as secret hiding places of the early Christians. This is only a fiction taken from novels or movies. THE GOOD SHEPHERD ORANTS and THE STORY OF JONAH Fresco-A method of painting on plaster, either dry or wet (usually) In the latter method, pigments are applied to thin layers of wet plaster so that they will be absorbed and the painting becomes part of the wall.

  9. The figure of the Good Shepherd resembles earlier shepherd figures in pagan Classical art that represent benevolence and philantropy. Additional meaning would have been ascribed to the figure by early Christian viewers in the context of Christ's phrase "I am the shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep," The figure was not originally intended as direct portraiture of Christ which would have been contrary to Old Testament injunctions against idolatry

  10. Exodos scene and Retrieving Moses from the Nile, Dura Europos synagogue, c. 250 CE, Syria. http://www.arthistory.upenn.edu/smr04/101910/101910lecture9.html

  11. http://www.le.ac.uk/ar/stj/dura.htm www.philthompson.net/pages/icons/duraeuropos.html Dura-Europos ("Fort Europos") was a Hellenistic and Roman walled city built on an escarpment ninety meters above the banks of the Euphrates river. It is located near the village of Salhiyé, in today's Syria 13.Baptistry in Christian House, Dura Europos, miracles of Jesus, Dura Europos, 3rd cent. CE, Syria. http://www.arthistory.upenn.edu/smr04/101910/101910lecture9.html

  12. Sarcophagus- A coffin, usually of stone, although sometimes made of wood, metal, or clay. In ancient times they were often decorated with carvings of the deceased or with some religious or mythological subject.

  13. Constantine •      Constantine was the first Roman ruler to become a follower of the Christian religion. • Before Constantine's reign Christians were often punished for their religious beliefs. • This changed when Constantine gave religious freedom to all Christians living in the Roman Empire. He also allowed members of the Christian Church to take part in the Roman government. The new freedom of worship helped spread Christianity into many regions of Europe.

  14. In A.D. 306, Constantine replaced his father as the new ruler of the Western Roman Empire. Constantine, however, was not accepted as ruler by everyone. He had to fight many other would-be leaders for his position. In A.D. 312 Constantine defeated his last rival at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. The victory made Constantine ruler of the entire Western Empire. According to legend, it was during the battle that Constantine became a Christian. Around A.D. 315 the Arch of Constantine was built in Rome to celebrate Constantine's victory.

  15. Arch of Constantine

  16. Byzantine 324 C.E. • The Byzantine Empire, founded when the capital of the Roman Empire was transferred from Rome to Constantinople in 324 CE. • Constantinople remained as the geographic and symbolic center of this cultural and political sphere until its conquest and collapse (1453). • With the edict of Milan, promulgated by the emperors Constantine 313 CE, the Christians were no longer persecuted. They were free to profess their faith, to have places of worship and to build churches both inside and outside the city, and to buy plots of land, without fear of confiscation.

  17. After the death of Constantine in 337, the Roman Empire was split into Eastern and Western Empires • The Western half declines and the eastern half, with its capital in Constantinople (now Istanbul) flourished. • in 527 it gained further strength with the reign of Justinian (Golden Age of Byzantine) Roman Empire -300 A.D. Byzantine Empire- 500 A.D.

  18. The early churches were called basilicas. San Piero a GradoPisa. Italy Santa Costanza, Rome, Italy ca 350 A basilica is an early type of Christian cathedral or church. Basilicas have a very open floor plan and high ceilings.

  19. Outside of the churches may appear plain but they are filled with beautiful mosaics (made of glass-tesserae) • Much of Byzantine architecture was created to express religious experience and mediate between the believer and God • Therefore a high ceiling stressed the heavens above and created awe among it’s viewers • Light was also an important feature • Gradually the exterior also became imaginative with the onion-shaped domes of Russian churches • The Byzantine tradition of art and architecture lasted over 1000 years

  20. Early Christian Basilica • Long brick building with a timber roof • connected to an atrium (courtyard) in the front • with a covered walkway around it (narthex) • led into the nave (central part of the basilica) through two doors in the corners • side aisles on each side of the naïve, separated with columns usually taken from pagan temples • Clerestory windows above columns to flood interior with light • Apse- semi circular area at the front of the nave, above the apse a half dome • Transepts were added in latter basilica’s to accommodate large crowds • Crypts were sometimes placed under the apse for the burial of clergy

  21. Early St. Peter’s Below: reconstruction drawing of St. Peter’s, Rome c. 333-390 CE plan of St. Peter’s, Rome right: elevation of interior of St. Peter’s Rome.

  22. St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, Rome, 385 C.E -alter placed on the raised portion, covered by a canopy of carved and painted wood called a baldachin -a triumphal arch separated nave from the apse, symbolized the victory of Christ over eternal death -interior (symbolized richness of spirit) highly decorated with mosaics of coloured glass and gold, and marble inlaid floors. -eighty granite columns in four rows direct the view to the triumphal arch (also covered in mosaics) -exteriors –plain brick

  23. Atrium and Narthex St. Paul’s Outside the Walls

  24. Baldachin- St. Peter’s (Vatican) in Rome

  25. Some churches followed a rotunda plan plan and interior of church of San Vitale, brick, c. 540-547 CE, Ravenna.

  26. Sculpture- not much was produced and most have been destroyed Archangel Michael -sixth century AD ,British Museum, London • Small ivory (42 cm)panel from a diptych. Draped figure of an archangel standing with orb in right hand, staff in left. • The Archangel or Saint Michael who appears on this part of the diptych is probably a literal copy (as to details) of a much more ancient figure (perhaps the goddess Victory [see Nike] from whom the Christian angel is derived) the carver had before his eyes. Although the precision of the Archangel, his classical robes and the architectural elements framing the figure embody a focus on the realism of antiquity. • -the angel seems to hover over the staircase, barely touching the stairs. • Painstaking classical realism has been abandoned in favour of added emphasis on symbolism. • -architectural setting is symbolic and ornamental not realistic

  27. Golden Age Of Byzantine Art • Hagia Sophia (Church of the Holy Wisdom) Constantinople (Istanbul), 532-537 AD • stone • Architects: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus • http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/ha/html/byzantine_turkey_hag_ahm_2.htm

  28. Hagia Sophia is one of the great architectural triumphs of the ages. Here, the architects have transported the enormous outward thrust of the huge dome through features called pendentives, to four great stone piers, which are not directly beneath the dome. The dome is used for the first time as a roof over a square, rather than a drum, which was used in the Pantheon. Because the supporting structure is so inconspicuous, the dome gives the illusion of being magically suspended above the nave. The minarets are Turkish additions after 1453

  29. The architects devised a system where arches were placed in the four walls and the circle of the dome rests on the four arches, a pendentives is formed in the four corners. The massive weight of the dome is supported by this spherical triangle, which transfers the thrust to the four huge piers that support it. pendentive - A concave, triangular piece of masonry (a triangle section of a hemisphere), four of which provide the transition from a square area to the circular base of a covering dome. Although they appear to be hanging (pendant) from the dome, they in fact support it.

  30. St. Marks –Venice-began 1063 • This is the largest and most lavish decorated church in the Second Golden Age • It was built to hold the body of St. Mark • It is based on a typical Greek cross plan • Each arm has a dome of it’s own • The exterior has many mosaics • Four horses formerly stood above the main entrance (they are now preserved in a museum) The second church on this site was burned in a rebellion in 976, rebuilt in 978 and again to form the basis of the present basilica in 1063. Though straddling into the Romanesuqe era it is still considered a Byzantine design.

  31. Fethiye Camii (Church of Pammakaristos), Interior view, ca. 1100, Istanbul (Turkey) • http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/ha/related_sites/fethiye_camii_360/html/1.html http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/ha/related_sites/fethiye_camii_360/index.html

  32. Byzantine art • Byzantine art was very religious. Most Byzantine art was created for the Eastern Orthodox Church. Much Byzantine art was made by servants of the courts or members of religious orders. Most of these artists remained anonymous. • Mosaics and Fresco paintings covered the domes of many churches. They were often made of precious materials such as lapis lazuli, gold and silver. Byzantine artists had to follow many rules about subject matter, content, and form. Symbolic representation was very important in Byzantine art. The subjects appear flat and fairly abstract compared to the liveliness and individualism of Western art because Byzantine artists used little shading or other techniques that would have made their subjects more lifelike.

  33. Mosaics • Conveyed messages of salvation through mosaics • They achieved an incredible degree of expressiveness in this medium • Roman mosaics were made of polished, coloured stone, but Byzantine mosaics were made of brightly coloured glass (tesserae) pressed into wet plaster • The glass pieces were set on a slight angle to reflect the light. • Green and gold are used most often, but there are also scarlets, purples and blues

  34. The Emperor Justinian and his AttendantsThe Empress Theodora and her Attendants,c. 547 AD, mosaic, Ravenna, • These mosaics are companion panels of depicting the Emperor Justinian and his Attendants, and Empress Theodora and her attendants. Both are located in the apse, which flanks the altar, of the church of San Vitale. • These mosaics are prized among the most accomplished examples of surviving Byzantine mosaics

  35. Lots of gold glass tesserae. • They portray the emperor and empress as semi-divine rulers bringing gifts at the dedication of San Vitale (though they never actually attended the ceremony). • The figures are stiff and stylized, including: full frontal viewpoints, elongation of the figure, and stylization of faces with large eyes and almond shape faces, and decorative costumes. • Strong use of symbolism- bread and wine of Eucharist. Halo to show that Justinian is Gods holy representative on earth and therefore holy himself.

  36. Mosaic-A picture or design made of tiny pieces (called tesserae) of coloured stone, glass, tile or paper adhered to a surface. It is typically decorative work for walls, vaults, ceilings or floors, the tesserae set in plaster or concrete.

  37. Mosiacs of Hagia Sophia • The mosaic were scrapped off the wall and covered with plaster by the Moslems when the converted the church into a mosque. • This was due to the fact their religion does not permit likenesses of people • Some mosaics have been uncovered • Also the Iconoclastic Controversy happened in the Christian religion as well for over for over 100 years (725 to 842 CE) and no art was produced in this period. After this period we have the second Golden Age of Byzantine. The plans of churches were based on the Greek cross, such a St. Marks’ discussed before .