What are some of the stylistic characteristics
of this artwork?
Parthenon frieze was
hidden behind the
•In this way the
subject of everyday
people and citizens
was allowed to be
carved on the
temple. This was
highly unusual in
•Also it allowed the
worshiper to follow
in the footsteps of
the people as they
walked to the
sanctuary for the
Emperor Constantine the
Initiates many major
•Recognizes the new religion of
Christianity. Gives freedom for
Christians to worship.
• Moves away from the classical
• Changes the scale and materials
of some sculpture.
• Borrows reliefs from previous
“good” Emperors. These are
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
325 – Council of Nicaea,
Christianity adopted as the
330 – Constantine moves the
capital from Rome to
Byzantium (renames it
Istanbul.) Results in an
eventual split between the
Eastern and Western Church.
Figures seem to have lost their
individuality. They appear
The carving is crude, and seems
to neglect all the advancements of
the Greek artists, i.e.
contrapposto, organic draperies ,
elegant proportions, spatial
Constantine tried to stimulate the
arts by giving artists in training a
stipend. (The first state financial
aid program for artists!!)
Imperial Rome –
27 BC – 14 AD
c. 313 AD
– all glances
Heads all in
• Natural poses and background
• Shading to give roundness
in sheep and in rocks.
• Hieratic composition, yet Christ
looks to sheep, not to viewer or
• Halo - Symbol of divine light
• 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
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.