Origins of Christianity inEarly Medieval Art the Roman West
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Review• Byzantine art immediately sets out to distinguish itself from pagan art of the Romans• So Byzantine art is characterized by the mosaic technique and materials, the use of gold, and flat, expressionless figures with drapery told through line• While Byzantine art is developing to serve the established hierarchy of the church and its royalty, Early Medieval art is simultaneously evolving but VERY differently...
Guiding Questions• Much of what is now Western Europe is pagan much longer than the countries of the Byzantine world, where Christianity became the state religion in 380. So what will the Christian arts look like if the makers had been steeped in paganism for much longer periods?
Guiding HistoricalEvents• Charlemagne becomes the first Christian Emperor in 800, and he establishes the Holy Roman Empire• Christianity reaches the Danes around 1,000, about eight hundred years after Christianity burgeoned in Syria
Where are we at in the world? This is a geography is made up of competing “barbarian,” or warrior cultures. The climate, which is colder and heavily forested, requires a new kind of architecture. Stave Chuch from Urnes, Norway
Characteristics of Early Medieval Art 1. Interlaced, ribbon style designs 2. Zoomorphic designs, with animals rather than humans as the main subjects of power and narrative 3. Small, portable objects commissioned by roving courts 4. Figures presented with an x-ray type flatness Hinged Clasp with Boars, from the Sutton Hoo Burial Ship, Suffolk, EnglandSelf Study:As Christianity settles in Western Europe, how have pagan designsbeen syncretized with Christian forms and styles? South Cross, Ahenny, Ireland
Medieval monasteries are Monasteries representative of Gods city in Heaven on Earth, so they are organized centered of prayer and most importantly work— they are responsible for clearing much of the forested environment. Medieval monasteries increasingly become the center of town living, with the monastery being a cloistered, self-sustaining community that educates and serves a community outside its walls. Medieval monasteries, like Byzantine monasteries, are major producers of Christian art that reflects the wealth, Plan of Saint Gall, Switzerland talents, and power of respective communities.Self Study:As seen in the recent History Channel television program, The Vikings, monasteries are often sackedand looted for their goods. The early Christians promoted nothing like the richness of the medievalchurch. What has changed, as we see in the Byzantine world as well?
Illuminated Manuscripts Meant to be difficult to read, as this was part of spiritual exercise. So illuminations are often like visual puzzles. Can you find the cat and mouse, the moths, the angels? Full page illuminations become popular and are called carpet pages, as they look very much like swatches of fabric. Copying texts will be made easier with Carolingian script, which uses spacing and upper and lower case letters to mark beginnings and proper nouns. Detail from XPI page from Book of Kells, possibly from Iona, Scotland
Carolingian Art Charlemagne is crowned in 800 and begins a program of reviving the Classical arts. We can see the naturalism of Greco-Roman painting and sculptural techniques becoming popular again. Charlemagne begins this campaign to revive Classical arts to connect his Holy Roman Empire (Christian) to the glory of the Roman past (pagan). Notice the drapery, the landscape, and the furniture in the folio to the left. The Holy Roman Empire will rule for nearly 1,000 years before it is defeated in the 19th century by Napolean. Saint Matthew, from the Coronation Gospels commissioned by Charlemagne on the event of his crowning as Emperor
In subsequent presentations, you will explore:• Monastic Living• Monastic Architecture• Illuminated Manuscript Production, as seen in the Lindisfarne Gospels