two important moments played a critical role in the development of early Christianity. Paul spread Christianity to the cities of the ancient Mediterranean world. Paul encountered the religious and cultural experience of the Greco Roman world. This encounter played a major role in the formation of Christianity. Christianity in its first three centuries was one of a large number of mystery religions that flourished in the Roman world.
Roman empire, persecution. Romans hate all religions that are monotheistic in nature
Until Constantine made Christianity the official religion of Rome, Christian art was limited to the catacombs and their secret places of worship (titulae)
Borrowed motifs from pagan culture Peacock flesh doesn’t decay after death
East and West each has its own emperor. After a long struggle, the Western Roman Empire fell to barbarian invaders.
Roman Emperors = power was taken by popes
model of people to follow as the sure way to attain salvation
As Christianity gained converts, the new Christians had been brought up on the value of images in their culture.
or ‘theo’ means ‘god’ several of Jesus’ disciples were fishermen miracle of turning loaves and 2 fish to feed 5000 people
…when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company.
symbolizes resurrection and eternal life, immortality
Probably the most common of symbols a beardless youth in pastoral scenes collecting sheep, similar to the Kourus figures
Anchor signifies hope The first century symbol wasn't the cross; it was the anchor maybe because the cross is too related to criminals
first two letters of Christ
Jonah Vomited from the Whale, Third century, Rome, Catacomb of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter
Christ among his apostles How is Jesus portrayed during Early Christian Art? Christianity at its purest
Tomb of Constantine’s daughter, Constantia circular shape with dome supported by a barrel vault
5th-century Galla Placidia mausoleum in Ravenna, Italy, contrasts with the stark simplicity of the plain brick exterior. This contrast is typical of Early Christian architecture. The mosaic from the entrance wall features Jesus Christ as the good shepherd.
Christ and the Apostles in the Heavenly Jerusalem
Constantinople is now ISTANBUL It flourished until the Fall of Constantinople under Turkish Ottomans During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe.
Anthemius is a mathematician while Isidore is a physicist
considered as the epitome or perfect example of Byzantine architecture used to have the largest collection of holy relics The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed and many of the mosaics were plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets – were added while in the possession of the Ottomans
Hagia Sophia’s most impressive feature is the huge dome. It’s dome rests on four huge piers, massive vertical pillars, that support arches made of cut stone.
The use of piers and arches in the construction of Hagia Sophia’s dome allows the erection of thinner walls and add more windows to light the interior of the church. Supporting the dome’s great weight are four pendentives, the triangular portions at the corners of each arch.
Orthodox basilica, mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul
a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
Mosque for five centuries principal mosque in Istanbul and became the basis for all other mosques
Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque ‘atbang’
The most salient feature of this new aesthetic was its “abstract,” or anti-naturalistic character. If classical art was marked by the attempt to create representations that mimicked reality as closely as possible, Byzantine art seems to have abandoned this attempt in favor of a more symbolic approach. More religious than aesthetic. Subject matter are often combined
Virgin Mary and the Christ Child between two figures. left figure - emperor Justinian carrying a small church right figure - Emperor Constantine is bearing a small city. The emperors are proclaiming the loyalty and dedication of the church and state to the Virgin and Christ.
The most famous of the surviving Byzantine mosaics of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople - the image of Christ Pantocrator on the walls of the upper southern gallery. Christ is flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. The mosaics were made in the 12th century.
also holding some ‘oriental’ influence to art lost its naturalistic appeal
Byzantine style was not only limited to the Eastern half of the Empire. Contacts and trade between East and West were not wholly broken off and maintained until the middle of the fourth century A.D. In the Italian city of Ravenna, Byzantine style was more obvious. Ravenna became the Western capital because it was isolated and seemed a safe refuge from barbarian invaders. Although Ravenna was captured in A.D. 476, it was recaptured by the Eastern emperor Justinian in A.D. 540. It remained under Byzantine control for the next two centuries.
Byzantine style was not only limited to the Eastern half of the Empire. Contacts and trade between East and West were not wholly broken off and maintained until the middle of the fourth century A.D. It remained under Byzantine control for the next two centuries.
finest example of Western Byzantine architecture dome, centralized, polygonal
San Vitale became the most famous church at that time.
The bodies of the most important people overlap those of the lesser ones. The archbishop’s leg is in front of Justinian’s cloak. This denotes that in spiritual matters, the bishop is the leader of all people including the emperor.
On the opposite wall, facing the emperor and his party, are Justinian’s wife ,Theodora, and her attendants. proclaims that they are marked for future sainthood.
Fa124 1 - early christian art
Early Christian Art
EARLY CHRISTIAN ART
Early Christian Art
One, the decision of Apostle Paul to spread
Christianity beyond the Jewish communities of
Palestine and into the Greco-Roman World.
Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, Rome
Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity and
became its patron
Christian art was necessarily and deliberately
using pagan imagery but had special meaning
Earliest surviving Christian Art are in the walls
of Christian tombs in the catacombs of Rome
Hercules killing the serpent - Jesus triumphing
Peacock - ‘resurrection’
Fall of the Roman Empire
After the Eastern capital was established in 330 AD, Roman
Empire functioned as two separate sections, East and West
In the West, emperors gradually lost their influence and
prestige. Soon, The West fell to Barbarian Invaders.
Emperors lost their power. The church, governed by popes,
assumed its place as the central authority in the West.
Decline of Roman empIre
During the decline of the
Roman Empire, a new source
of power was born: The
Church was the dominating
Early Christian artists show little interest in the
beauty strength and grace of the human body.
Main intention is to illustrate the power and
glory of Christ
Christian art was meant to tell the story of
Christ’s life here on earth.
Why did Early Christian Art Develop?
Importance of images in the Greco-Roman
Aside from images, changes in burial practices
have changed from cremation to inhumation
Ichthys (ΙΧΘΥΣ) translates to ‘Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior’
I (iota) is the first letter of Iēsous, Greek for ‘Jesus’
Chi (ch) is the first letter of Christos, Greek for ‘Anointed’
Theta (th) is first letter of Theou, Greek for ‘God’s’
Ypsilon (y) is the first letter of yios, Greek for ‘Son’
Sigma (s) is the first letter of Soter, Greek for ‘Savior’
Under imperial sponsorship, Early Christian
architecture flourished throughout the empire
on a monumental scale
Two Building Types:
Longitudinal Hall or Basilica
Centralized Building or Baptistry, Martyrium
The basilica is an ancient
Roman building type which
early Christian churches
It has a long central hall,
separated from side isles by
rows of columns
Nave or Bema or Apse raised platform where the
altar typically stood
Roofed porch or narthex where people enter
Atrium - square courtyard
Old Saint Peter’s
2. Centralized Building
Baptisteries, mausoleums, and martyria or
martyr shrines were built in centralized form
Circular or polygonal
The object of veneration visible to the faithful
from the cloister or aisle circling the site.
Mosaic - decoration with small pieces of glass
and stone set in cement.
Walls are richly decorated with mosaics, placed
on walls where lights from windows and
candles caused them to flicker and glow
Meanwhile in Byzantium...
In 285, Emperor Diocletian divided the Roman
Empire between eastern and western halves.
Emperor Constantine I transferred eastern
capital from Nicomedia to Byzantium which
Constantinople ‘City of Constantine’ or ‘New
Meanwhile in Byzantium...
Eastern part of the Roman Empire remained strong and unified, it
continued to thrive for another millennium.
Constantinople, the capital became the largest city in the medieval
world and a great cultural center with grand public buildings and
The art glorified Christian religion
Justinian I reconquered most of western Mediterranean including
north Africa, Italy and Rome
Hagia Sophia or ‘Holy Wisdom’ was built in
Constantinople (now Istanbul) between 532 and
537 under Emperor Justinian I.
Innovative Byzantine technology allowed
Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus to
design a basilica with an immense dome over
an open, square space.
Hagia Sophia’s most
impressive feature is the
huge dome. The dome rests
on 4 huge piers, massive
vertical pillars that support
arches made of cut stone.
It is the finest example of a
centrally planned Byzantine
Use of piers and arches for the
dome allows erection of
thinner walls and more
windows to light the interior
of the church
Four pedentives support the
dome’s great weight,
triangular portions at the
corners of each arch.
served as a former Orthodox basilica, seat of the
Patriarchate of Constantinople, Roman Catholic
cathedral, mosque, and now as a museum in
epitome of Byzantine architecture.
After Constantinople was conquered by Ottoman Turks under
Sultan Mehmed II, the building was subsequently converted to
Bells, altar, iconostasis, sacrificial vessels were removed
mosaics were plastered over
Islamic features such as the mihrab, minbar and minarets were
Characteristics of Byzantine Art
The most salient feature is the Byzantine
‘abstract’ or anti-naturalistic character
Abandoned realistic attempt in favor for
Subject matter: Primarily religious and imperial
Mosaics in Hagia Sophia
Mosaics are large and brilliantly colored
One mosaic shows the Virgin Mary and Christ Child between
The left figure is Emperor Justinian carrying a small church,
while Emperor Constantine is bearing a small city.
The message of the mosaic clearly tells the emperors are
proclaiming the loyalty and dedication of the church and state
to the Virgin and Christ.
Christ Pantocrator in the
upper southern gallery of the
Hagia Sophia in
He is flanked by the Virgin
Mary and John the Baptist.
In the Italian city of Ravenna, Byzantine style
was still obvious.
Ravenna became the Western Capital, isolated
and safe refuge from barbarian invaders.
Captured in 476 AD but recaptured by Justinian
in 540 AD.