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Early Christian Art, Early Jewish
Art
200-500 CE
THE LATE ROMAN AND BYZANTINE WORLD
KEY IDEAS:

•Christianity begins as underground religion
(prohibited). Early works appear in catacombs and on
sarcophagi
•...
VOCABULARY:

•AMBULATORY: a passageway around the apse or altar of a
church
•APSE: the endpoint of a church where the alta...
Vocabulary continued…
•LOCULI: openings in the walls of catacombs to receive the dead
•LUNETTE: a crescent-shaped space, s...
Being a Christian was rough in 1st-3rd centuries!
• Persecutions frequent
• Most early popes, including St. Peter, were ma...
Let’s see how folks were buried and look at some
Early Christian architecture…
Hundreds of miles of CATACOMBS found under city of
Rome…some five stories deep…millions of bodies
Christians, Jews, and pa...
CUBICULUM OF
LEONIS, CATACOMB OF
COMMODILLA
Near Rome.
Late 4th century.

Wealthy people
buried in mortuary
chapels called...
ARK OF THE COVENANT AND MENORAHS
Wall painting in a Jewish catacomb, Villa Torlonia,
Rome. 3rd century. 3'11" × 5'9”
Wealthy people often placed in
extravagant sarcophagi, like this
one dedicated to JuniusBassus

SARCOPHAGUS OF JUNIUS BASS...
---JuniusBassus was prefect of Rome, baptized just before his death
---Scenes from the Bible in separate niches on the fro...
• The world “makes peace” with Christianity around 313 CE, and
Christian architecture starts booming
• Built BASILICAS wit...
•

•

Focused attention directly on priest at the ALTAR
(“high place”)
ALTAR was elevated in the APSE

altar

• Male worsh...
CENTRALLY
Early Christian churches come in two forms,
both inspired by Roman architecture:
CENTRALLY PLANNED and AXIALLY P...
•
•
•
•
•
•

Axially planned buildings had long NAVES focusing on the APSE
NAVE used for processional space
Two SIDE AISLE...
PLAN of OLD ST. PETER's
c. 320-327; atrium added
in later 4th century.

• Old St. Peter’s used Roman columns
from pagan te...
RECONSTRUCTION DRAWING of
OLD ST. PETER's
c. 320-327; atrium added in
later 4th century.
Approx. 394’ long and 210’
wide.
Interior, Old St. Peter’s (no longer standing)
•Large, uninterrupted
interior spaces for a
large number of
Christians
•Gra...
•Domed buildings popular- round
or polygonal buildings topped with
a dome- taken from Roman bath
design- became baptisteri...
ALTAR
• Santa Costanza may
have been the
mousoleum for
Emperor
Constantine’s
daughter, Constantina
• Barrel vaulted side
aisles
...
• Santa Costanza Mosaics: PUTTI
harvesting grapes and producing wine
• Christian message of wine becoming the
blood of Chr...
Mausoleum of GallaPlacidia, 425 CE, Ravenna, Italy
•
•
•
•
•

Probably originally a chapel to St. Lawrence
Fusion of central plan AND axial plan
Exterior: brick façade repre...
• Interior: brilliantly
colored mosaics
• Represent the soul
• Shows a Christian’s
path to detemption
• Victory of eternal...
•Images in paintings are VERY narrative- from various books of New
Testament
•WHY do you think Christianity had to be narr...
Portraits of Evangelists
(writers of New Testament gospels)
Gospels are arranged in order in which it was believe they wer...
Catacomb paintings in SAINTS PETER AND MARCELLINO
4th century, Rome

•Not random imagesthere is an artistic
program with i...
THE GOOD SHEPHERD, ORANTS, AND THE STORY OF JONAH
Painted ceiling of the Catacomb of SS.
Peter and Marcellino, Rome. Late ...
GOOD SHEPHERD
4th century fresco, Rome
from Catacomb of Saints Peter and
Marcellino

•Part of Rome’s extensive catacomb
sy...
Remind you of anything?
GOOD SHEPHERD mosaic from the Mausoleum of GallaPlacidia, 425, Ravena, Italy
•When Christianity was recognizes as the offi...
•Regal version of Christ in lunette
•Golden cross shows victory over death
•Rich landscape
•3-D figures that cast shadows
...
EARLY JEWISH ART
•Today’s Jewish temples usually don’t have
imagery, but ancient Jews interpreted the 2nd
commandment in a...
SYNAGOGUE OF
DURA EUROPOS
245-256 CE
Frescoes
now at the National
Museum, Damascus
*A limited number of Jewish works
survi...
•No action, very “posed”
•No classical illusionism
(perspective, etc.)

•Stylized gestures
•Expressionless faces, huge eye...
she hands him to a nurse (actually his
own mom)
she wades nude into water to
save him
princess sees Moses

The Finding of ...
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Early Christian/ Early Jewish Art PowerPoint

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Early Christian/ Early Jewish Art PowerPoint

  1. 1. Early Christian Art, Early Jewish Art 200-500 CE
  2. 2. THE LATE ROMAN AND BYZANTINE WORLD
  3. 3. KEY IDEAS: •Christianity begins as underground religion (prohibited). Early works appear in catacombs and on sarcophagi •Christian images inspired by classical past but influenced by Constantinian artwork from the Late Roman Empire – most subject matter is taken from Old and New Testaments •Christian buildings use two forms: axially planned Roman basilica and centrally planned Roman temple •Early Jews prohibit a narrative artistic tradition.
  4. 4. VOCABULARY: •AMBULATORY: a passageway around the apse or altar of a church •APSE: the endpoint of a church where the altar is located •ATRIUM: a courtyard in a Roman house or before a Christian church •AXIAL PLAN: a church with a long nave whose focus is the apse, so-called because it is designed along an axis •BASILICA: In Christian architecture, an axially planned church with a long nave, side aisles, and an apse for the altar •CATACOMBS: an underground passageway used for burial •CENTRAL PLAN: a church having a circular plan with the altar in the middle •CHALICE: a cup used in a Christian ceremony •CLERESTORY: the third (or window) story of a church •COFFER: a sunken panel in a ceiling •CUBICULA: small underground rooms in catacombs serving as mortuary chapels
  5. 5. Vocabulary continued… •LOCULI: openings in the walls of catacombs to receive the dead •LUNETTE: a crescent-shaped space, sometimes over a doorway, that contains sculpture or painting •NARTHEX: the closest part of the atrium to the basilica- it serves as a vestibule (or loby) of a church •NAVE: the main aisle of a church •ORANT FIGURE: a figure with its hands raised in prayer •SPOLIA: the reuse of architectural or sculptural pieces in buildings generally different from their original contexts •SYNAGOGUE: a Jewish house of worship •TORAH: first five books of the Old Testament traditionally ascribed to Moses •TRANSEPT: an aisle in a church perpendicular to the nave, where the clergy originally stood
  6. 6. Being a Christian was rough in 1st-3rd centuries! • Persecutions frequent • Most early popes, including St. Peter, were martyred • Artists who work for government are greatly rewarded and have art in public places • Artists who worked for Christians had art in private church houses and burial chambers (no glory ) • Most Christian art in early centuries survives in the catacombs beneath the city of Rome • Christians were poor, underclass • Artists imitated Roman works, but sometimes in a sketchy and unsophisticated manner • Once Christianity is recognized as an official religion, patronage happened! Christian artists got respect and then eventually became the most popular artists!
  7. 7. Let’s see how folks were buried and look at some Early Christian architecture…
  8. 8. Hundreds of miles of CATACOMBS found under city of Rome…some five stories deep…millions of bodies Christians, Jews, and pagans used these burial grounds because they were a cheaper alternative to aboveground burial. Christians didn’t like cremation- preferred burial because it symbolized Jesus’s rising from the dead, body and soul Poor people placed in LOCULI: holes cut in the walls – bodies placed inside – usually bodies folded over to take up less room
  9. 9. CUBICULUM OF LEONIS, CATACOMB OF COMMODILLA Near Rome. Late 4th century. Wealthy people buried in mortuary chapels called CUBICULA
  10. 10. ARK OF THE COVENANT AND MENORAHS Wall painting in a Jewish catacomb, Villa Torlonia, Rome. 3rd century. 3'11" × 5'9”
  11. 11. Wealthy people often placed in extravagant sarcophagi, like this one dedicated to JuniusBassus SARCOPHAGUS OF JUNIUS BASSUS Grottoes of St. Peter, Vatican, Rome. 359 CE Marble, 4' × 8’
  12. 12. ---JuniusBassus was prefect of Rome, baptized just before his death ---Scenes from the Bible in separate niches on the front ---Center top: Christ enthroned like an emperor, feet placed on the sky god, Saints Peter and Paul on either side – Christ’s position is a symbol of the Christian god dominating the pagan ---Christ wears pallium (philosopher clothes), youthful face like a young Apollo, who may have served as a model ---Uniform height of figures sitting and standing ---Biblical episodes are mixed, not in order ---Carved on 3 sides, meant to be placed against wall ---Can you seen an influence of Roman architectural elements and figure style?
  13. 13. • The world “makes peace” with Christianity around 313 CE, and Christian architecture starts booming • Built BASILICAS with large, groin-vaulted interiors and impressive naves • Basilica entrance is on far end instead of the side (as before) • CLERESTORY = the third story of the basilica or church (always with windows) • Clergy occupied the perpendicular aisle next to apse – TRANSEPT • NARTHEX = a transitional zone in the front of the church • ATRIUM = in the front of the building, framing the façade, this is where catechumens stayed (people who wanted to convert to Christianity but didn’t do it yet)
  14. 14. • • Focused attention directly on priest at the ALTAR (“high place”) ALTAR was elevated in the APSE altar • Male worshippers stood in the long main aisle called the NAVE • Female worshippers stood in side aisles with partial view () • Christians were inspired by gender division in Jewish community atrium
  15. 15. CENTRALLY Early Christian churches come in two forms, both inspired by Roman architecture: CENTRALLY PLANNED and AXIALLY PLANNED AXIALLY Forced pagan architectural elements, like columns, to do service to a new god SPOLIA = reuse of architectural or sculptural elements
  16. 16. • • • • • • Axially planned buildings had long NAVES focusing on the APSE NAVE used for processional space Two SIDE AISLES on each side of the NAVE First floor had columns lining the NAVE Second floor decorated by mosaics Third floor = CLERESTORY (window space) Early Christian basilicas had wooden roofs with coffered ceilings Example of AXIALLY PLAN building RECONSTRUCTION DRAWING OF THE INTERIOR OF OLD ST. PETER'S, ROME c. 320-327
  17. 17. PLAN of OLD ST. PETER's c. 320-327; atrium added in later 4th century. • Old St. Peter’s used Roman columns from pagan temples- political statement of the triumph of Christianity over paganism. Reuse of architectural or sculptural elements = “SPOLIA” • Exteriors of churches/basilicas avoided decoration and sculpture that pagan temples had on facades • Plain exterior, rich interior: represents a Christian- plain exterior but beautiful soul (interior)
  18. 18. RECONSTRUCTION DRAWING of OLD ST. PETER's c. 320-327; atrium added in later 4th century. Approx. 394’ long and 210’ wide.
  19. 19. Interior, Old St. Peter’s (no longer standing) •Large, uninterrupted interior spaces for a large number of Christians •Grand, imperial feel that linked Christianity with its new role as state religion •Built on the spot where it is believed St. Peter was buried Old St. Peter’s had a wooden roof and coffered ceiling •Interior space was glittering with glass mosaics (not Roman stone mosaics)
  20. 20. •Domed buildings popular- round or polygonal buildings topped with a dome- taken from Roman bath design- became baptisteries (baptism was a sacred rite) and funerary chapels •Santa Constanza- domed cylindrical core lit by cleristory windows, ring shaped ambulatory Santa Constanza, Rome, c 350 CE
  21. 21. ALTAR
  22. 22. • Santa Costanza may have been the mousoleum for Emperor Constantine’s daughter, Constantina • Barrel vaulted side aisles • Dome above main central space • Double ring of 12 paired columns = symbol of 12 apostles • Central plan – inspired by Pantheon • Mosaics inside
  23. 23. • Santa Costanza Mosaics: PUTTI harvesting grapes and producing wine • Christian message of wine becoming the blood of Christ • PUTTI = chubby male child, usually nude, sometimes winged- non-religious (not angels)
  24. 24. Mausoleum of GallaPlacidia, 425 CE, Ravenna, Italy
  25. 25. • • • • • Probably originally a chapel to St. Lawrence Fusion of central plan AND axial plan Exterior: brick façade represents the gross exterior of the world Minimal windows Cornice runs around building, pediments on all sides
  26. 26. • Interior: brilliantly colored mosaics • Represent the soul • Shows a Christian’s path to detemption • Victory of eternal life over death • Mosaic of Christ as the Good Shepherd tending his flocks (more about this later…) • He holds an imperial staff joined to the Christian cross- symbol of combined earth and heaven • Contains sarcophagi of three Roman emperors
  27. 27. •Images in paintings are VERY narrative- from various books of New Testament •WHY do you think Christianity had to be narrative? •No written accounts of what people in the Bible looked like- artists recreate episodes using their imagination •New Testament episodes depicted through intense narrative: The Annunciation (angle Baptism of Jesus (Jesus’s Gabriel tells Mary she’s Jesus’s ministry begins when John the Palm Sunday (Jesus enters mother) Baptist baptizes him in the Jerusalem in triumph) The Visitation (Mary visits Jordan river) Last Supper (Jesus eats final cousin Elizabeth, who is Calling of the Apostles (Jesus meal with Apostles- body and pregnant with John the gathers his followers) blood from bread and wine) Baptist) Miracles (Jesus uses his Crucifixion (Jesus sentenced to Nativity (birth of Jesus) divinity to multiply loaves and death and dies on cross) Adoration of the Magi (three fish, resurrect the Deposition/Lamentation/Ento kings present gifts to Jesus) dead, change water into mbment (Jesus’s body Massacre of Innocents (King wine, etc.) removed from cross and Herod kills male babies) Giving the Keys (Jesus gives buried in a tomb) The Flight into Egypt (Jesus’s Peter key to heaven- Peter Resurrection (On Easter family escapes Herod’s plan) becomes first Pope) Sunday, Jesus rises from the Transfiguration (Jesus dead and goes to heaven) transforms into God)
  28. 28. Portraits of Evangelists (writers of New Testament gospels) Gospels are arranged in order in which it was believe they were written: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We’ll see a lot of them in Medieval and Renaissance art. But let’s meet them now! MATTHEW: symbolized as angel or a man MARK: symbolized as a lion LUKE: symbolized as an ox JOHN: symbolized as an eagle
  29. 29. Catacomb paintings in SAINTS PETER AND MARCELLINO 4th century, Rome •Not random imagesthere is an artistic program with intent •Jesus is always central/dominant • Grouped around him are Old and New Testament images •Framed figures in niches or LUNETTES (crecent-shaped space, sometimes over a doorway, that contains sculptures or paintings) •Figures have arms outstretched in prayer
  30. 30. THE GOOD SHEPHERD, ORANTS, AND THE STORY OF JONAH Painted ceiling of the Catacomb of SS. Peter and Marcellino, Rome. Late 3rd-early 4th century.
  31. 31. GOOD SHEPHERD 4th century fresco, Rome from Catacomb of Saints Peter and Marcellino •Part of Rome’s extensive catacomb system (4 million dead, 100 miles) •Restrained portrait of Christ as Good Shepherd •Symbolic- Jesus is like a shepherd who cares for his flock – rescues individual sinners who stray from the flock •A pastoral metaphor like this would have been easy for common people to relate to •Roman influence – look at the sketchy painterly brushstrokes – like Pompeian painting
  32. 32. Remind you of anything?
  33. 33. GOOD SHEPHERD mosaic from the Mausoleum of GallaPlacidia, 425, Ravena, Italy •When Christianity was recognizes as the official religion of the Roman empire in 380 CE, Christ takes on a more imperial image (no more humble, common-looking Good Shepherd image) •His robes become the imperial purple and gold, his crook becomes a staff, halo around head
  34. 34. •Regal version of Christ in lunette •Golden cross shows victory over death •Rich landscape •3-D figures that cast shadows •Balanced group of sheep •Refers to parable of the lost sheep
  35. 35. EARLY JEWISH ART •Today’s Jewish temples usually don’t have imagery, but ancient Jews interpreted the 2nd commandment in a way that made some images valid (2nd commandment: no worship of other gods/idols) •Example: Old Testament has God ordering Moses to install two cherubim above Arc of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies (in Exodus) •Ancient Jews living in Greco-Roman world were influenced by the narrative art around them
  36. 36. SYNAGOGUE OF DURA EUROPOS 245-256 CE Frescoes now at the National Museum, Damascus *A limited number of Jewish works survive because pictorial tradition was usually banned •Originally a private home •Converted into SYNAGOGUE: any large room where the Torah scrolls are kept and read publicly •Old Testament stories illustrated •All Bible figures represented except God (appears as a hand) •Torah niche in the center •Paintings not in narrative order
  37. 37. •No action, very “posed” •No classical illusionism (perspective, etc.) •Stylized gestures •Expressionless faces, huge eyes •Frontal arrangement •Outlined figures •Some hierarchy of scale (that again?!) •Figures lack volume and shadow
  38. 38. she hands him to a nurse (actually his own mom) she wades nude into water to save him princess sees Moses The Finding of the Baby Moses (in Dura Europos) •Vivid depiction of events follows the Roman tradition of historical narrative •Static, 2D figures float against neutral background •Moses’s mother sends Moses down the river in a basket to protect him from pharaoh’s decree that all Jewish infants be put to death (this is in the Book of Exodus) •Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and claims him as her own child (how ironic!) •Narrow foreground space

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