Transition from Roman to Byzantine

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Stylistic Contrasts and Transitions from Roman and Greek Art To Early Christian and Byzantine.

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Transition from Roman to Byzantine

  1. 1.  What are some of the stylistic characteristics of this artwork?
  2. 2. •The Great Parthenon frieze was hidden behind the outer colonnade. •In this way the subject of everyday people and citizens was allowed to be carved on the temple. This was highly unusual in Greece. •Also it allowed the worshiper to follow in the footsteps of the people as they walked to the sanctuary for the Pananthenia celebration.
  3. 3. Emperor Constantine the Great (306-337 AD) Initiates many major changes: •Recognizes the new religion of Christianity. Gives freedom for Christians to worship. • Moves away from the classical style. • Changes the scale and materials of some sculpture. • Borrows reliefs from previous “good” Emperors. These are called ‘Spolia’.
  4. 4.  313 – Constantine’s victory over Maxentius (dedicated in the Arch of Constantine) and his conversion to Christianity.  314 – The Edict of Milan where Christianity is recognized.  325 – Council of Nicaea, Christianity adopted as the state religion.  330 – Constantine moves the capital from Rome to Byzantium (renames it Constantinople, today Istanbul.) Results in an eventual split between the Eastern and Western Church.
  5. 5. What stylistic changes do you see?
  6. 6. Figures seem to have lost their individuality. They appear militaristic. The carving is crude, and seems to neglect all the advancements of the Greek artists, i.e. contrapposto, organic draperies , elegant proportions, spatial depth. Constantine tried to stimulate the arts by giving artists in training a stipend. (The first state financial aid program for artists!!)
  7. 7. Imperial Rome – Augustus: 27 BC – 14 AD Late Antique Rome – Constantine: c. 313 AD Contrast of Styles
  8. 8.  Heiratic composition – all glances lead to Emperor  Repetition of figures  Heads all in a row  Squat proportions
  9. 9. Style: • Natural poses and background • Spatial • Shading to give roundness in sheep and in rocks. • Hieratic composition, yet Christ looks to sheep, not to viewer or worshiper. • Halo - Symbol of divine light Style: • All gold background • Hieratic composition • Very 2-dimentional, little space • Frontalized – ‘devotional stare’ • Figures lack weight – step on feet • More elaborate halo for Christ • Purple robe – symbol of Kingship • Lack of shadows and natural effects • Strict symmetry
  10. 10.  Christ is no longer viewed as a common shepherd, a more human role, but now as a higher supreme being, as the Imperial ruler over the world. (See the symbol of the globe below him.) This is typical of Byzantine style.  The entire apse shimmers with gold—symbolizing heaven and the celestial world.  The figures are weightless, and have a supernatural quality. Notice how Christ does not really sit on the globe, but hovers in front of it.  The hieratic and symmetric composition is a mainstay of the mosaic.

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