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Intro to Early Christian Art

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Learn how to identify Jesus in early Christian art. Discover the arms-raised woman called the catacomb Orante.

Published in: Art & Photos, Spiritual
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Intro to Early Christian Art

  1. 1. An Introduction to Early Christian Art
  2. 2. Please note: All of the following examples are from 3rd- and 4th- century Christian sarcophagi.
  3. 3. How can I identify Jesus in early art? • Jesus was often depicted using a wand during his miracles.
  4. 4. Jesus used his wand to multiply bread in baskets (left) and to change jugs of water into wine (right).
  5. 5. How can I identify Jesus in early art? • Jesus was often depicted using a wand during his miracles. • Before the last two decades of the 4th century, Jesus was often depicted beardless.
  6. 6. Beardless Jesus healed the lame man, who then picked up and carried his bed on his back.
  7. 7. How can I identify Jesus in early art? • Jesus was often depicted using a wand for during his miracles. • Before the last two decades of the 4th century, Jesus was often depicted beardless. • Jesus was usually depicted with longer hair than the men around him.
  8. 8. Long-haired Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate
  9. 9. Longer haired Jesus performs the miracles of the bread and the wine.
  10. 10. How can I identify women in early art? • Women usually had longer dresses.
  11. 11. A woman wearing a long skirt depicted between two scenes with Jesus.
  12. 12. How can I identify women in early art? • Women usually had longer dresses. • Before Constantine, some artists – not all – depicted Christian women without veils and with short hair.
  13. 13. Pre-Constantine depiction of a short haired unveiled woman with doves and sheep.
  14. 14. How can I identify women in early art? • Women usually had longer dresses. • Before Constantine, some artists – not all – depicted Christian women without veils and with short hair. • After Constantine, almost all artists depicted Christian women with veils.
  15. 15. Post-Constantine depiction of Jesus with a veiled woman
  16. 16. How can I identify the Biblical scenes on a sarcophagus?
  17. 17. With close attention to details, you can recognize most of the iconography.
  18. 18. Jesus changed jugs of water into wine.
  19. 19. Jesus multiplied bread in baskets.
  20. 20. Jesus healed the blind.
  21. 21. Jesus, Peter and the crowing cock
  22. 22. Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb. Mary fell at his feet.
  23. 23. The baby in the manger
  24. 24. Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood who touched his hem.
  25. 25. Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac.
  26. 26. Moses received a scroll of the law.
  27. 27. This was the tomb of a man named “Claudiano.”
  28. 28. This was a portrait of Claudiano.
  29. 29. Some scenes are less well known to us, but most art historians agree what they depict.
  30. 30. An apostle—Peter or Paul—was arrested.
  31. 31. The apostle baptized his jailers.
  32. 32. There is no agreement, however, about this female figure.
  33. 33. This female figure, called the Orante, appeared often in the earliest Christian art.
  34. 34. Graydon F. Snyder says, “In the Christian culture that emerged about A.D. 180, no symbol occurs more frequently and integrally than this female figure with lifted arms.”
  35. 35. Snyder says, “She must be the most important symbol in early Christian art.”
  36. 36. Karen Jo Torjesen says, “Although male figures are occasionally found in this traditional posture, the overwhelming number of orantes are female.”
  37. 37. Torjesen says this figure is “evidence of the earliest tradition of women preachers.”
  38. 38. Some say she is the symbol of piety.
  39. 39. Others say she is the symbol of the church.
  40. 40. Yet others say she is the symbol of the soul.
  41. 41. Some call her the portrait of a dead woman.
  42. 42. Some call her the portrait of a dead woman. But here she appears on the tomb of a man.
  43. 43. In the 1800s, some researchers suggested early Christians knew her as Mary.
  44. 44. Other researchers said that was ridiculous.
  45. 45. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  46. 46. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  47. 47. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  48. 48. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  49. 49. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  50. 50. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  51. 51. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  52. 52. Who or what do you think this female figure in the center of these biblical scenes depicted?
  53. 53. Why do you think it is only the woman whose name we do not know?
  54. 54. Art as Text By Ally Kateusz In honor of Robin Jensen

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