2. Before the Edict of Milan (313), which made Christianity the Roman Empire's state religion, Christian art was restricted to the decoration of the hidden places of worship. Most early religious artists worked in manner that was derived from Roman art, appropriately stylized to suit the spirituality of the religion. These artists chose to reject the ideals of perfection in form and technique. They rather sought to present images which would draw the spectator into the inner eye of their work, pointing to its spiritual significance. An iconography was devised to visualize Christian concepts. The first Christians don't see in art a way of expressing beauty, but one of transmitting their faith and beliefs as well as to teach them. After the fourth century, under imperial sponsorship, Early Christian architecture flourished throughout the Roman Empire on a monumental scale. Buildings were of two types, the longitudinal hall - basilica, and the centralized building - a baptistery or a mausoleum. The exteriors of Early Christian buildings were plain and unadorned and the interiors contrarily, were richly decorated with marble floors and wall slabs, frescoes, mosaics, metal works, hangings, and sumptuous altar furnishings in gold and silver. Early Christian illuminated manuscripts are of an unusually high quality. Freestanding Early Christian sculpture is rarely seen. Early Christian bas-reliefs survive in abundance in marble and porphyry.Overview 3.
- THE EARLY CHRISTIAN PERIODc. 200-527. Concurrent with Late Antique Period. Diversity of styles, differs only in subject matter and function.
- II. THE EARLY CHRISTIANS BEFORE CONSTANTINE(c. 200-313).
- Little is known about Christian art in the first two centuries after the death of Jesus. Among the earliest manifestations extant are the early 3d-century paintings on the walls of the catacombs in Rome. Whereas the style resembles that of secular Roman wall painting, the subject matter consists mainly of biblical figures. Jonah, Daniel, and Susanna appear in scenes of miracles through divine intervention. Among the motifs that symbolized the hope of resurrection and immortality are the fish and the peacock. Following the official recognition of Christianity after the Edict of Toleration (313), the scope of Early Christian art was radically enlarged.
- the Good Shepherd carrying his sheep(symbol of humanitarian concern)
- the Orans(figure with hands uplifted in prayer)
- fish(Greek word "fish" formed an acrostic for "Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour)
4. BURIAL PLACES .Construction of cemeteries: most famous are catacombs, underground passages cut into rock ( tufa ), outside city walls of Rome, beginning, c. 200 with wall niches.Catacombs are the name given to "subterranean galleries cut into the tufa beds outside of Rome," (Gough, p.24). They were rediscovered by the modern world during the nineteenth century and the few that have been excavated provide information about the world in 250 AD. The catacombs contain most of what we know about Early Christian art in wall paintings called frescoes, (wall paintings made by mixing paints with wet plaster and creating a virtually indestructible work of art)Contrary to some modern beliefs, these catacombs were not a secret to anybody in Rome; indeed, the catacombs were used as Christian cemeteries not because they needed secrecy. In reality, the Roman law strictly protected tombs from violation. Pagan practice in Rome was to cremate dead bodies before burying; however, early Christians did not believe in this practice and preferred to bury their dead, unburned, outside of the city.As Rome was predominantly a pagan society where unorthodox beliefs were persecuted, there was a need for discretion in the art of the catacombs. "The depiction of the cross was avoided" because it was an indisputable sign of the death of Jesus Christ. In some cases the differences between Roman mythology and Christian art in the frescoes lie beneath the murky waters of time. 5. Gallery and loculi of the Catacomb of Callixtus, Rome, second century. Construction of the early catacombs began in the second century and was used for both memorial services and internment of the dead. Some of the catacombs were built on four levels connecting a enormous system of galleries and linking passages with steep, narrow steps. Bodies of the deceased were placed in niches, 16 to 24 inches high by 47 to 59 inches long cut from the wall of soft tufa rock. The bodies were fully clothed, wrapped in linen and sprinkled with ointments to offset the decaying odor and sealed with a slab inscribed with the name of the deceased, date of death and a religious symbol Along the passages burial chambers ( cubicula)open to the right and left. In the side walls of the galleries horizontal tiers of graves rise from the floor to the ceiling; the number of graves in the Roman catacombs is estimated at two millions. The graves, orloculi , are cut out of the rock sides of the gallery, so that the length of the bodies can be judged from the length of the graves. 6.
- Decorated with frescoes. Sometimes started from established hypogaea (family tombs).
- Catacomb Paintings, Mosaics, Sculpture. Basic themes of deliverance through divine intervention and salvation obtained through prayer and sacraments of the church (Baptism and Eucharist).
- Style of paintings--sketchy
- Themes of Deliverance:Examples from Catacomb paintings of deliverance from Old and New Testaments (Three Hebrews in the Fiery Furnace, Book of Daniel; Sacrifice of Isaac, Genesis; Daniel in the Lion's Den, Book of Daniel; Jonah and the Whale, Book of Daniel)
7. ( Representations of Christ: 1. Christ as Good Shepherd, 3rd century, Cleveland Museum of Art; 2. Christ Enthroned (as Philosopher), c. 350, Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome; 3. Christ as Helios--sun God (mosaic), Mausoleum of the Julii, Rome, 250-275. . 8. 9. 10. The style of the frescoes was Roman, but their subjects were entirely Christian. One example is the Catacomb of Saints Peter and Marcellinus in Rome. The design is similar to Roman vaulted ceilings, and inscribed onto the dome is a cross, a symbol of the Christian faith. At the end of each arm of the cross are semicircular frames called "lunettes." Each of these lunettes contains an episode from Jonah's story in the Old Testament. On the left, Jonah is being thrown off a ship by sailors. On the right, Jonah is shown emerging from a ketos. A ketos was a sea dragon, equivalent to the whale in the contemporary version of the story. On the bottom, Jonah is seen safe on land, deep in thought about the miracle of salvation and the mercy of God. Jonah was a very popular figure in many early Christian sculptures as well as paintings because the early Christians considered him a forerunner of Christ. 11. Philosopher" Sarcophagus , c. 270 AD, Rome, Santa Maria AntiquaThe seated philosopher is borrowed directly fromcontemporary sarcophagi. The orant or praying figure has already been seen in our previous work.The headsof the praying woman and seated man are unfinished as the practice of pre-making sarcophagi and adding portraits later was common. Christ as Good ShepherdBaptism of Christ Jonah and the Whale 12. 13. Sarcophagus is decorated on front like western manner with two rows of five compartments.The deceased is not depicted but has scenes from Old and New Testaments. It is very rich in iconography. Crucifixion scenes are very rare. Triumphal entry into Jerusalem Sin of Adam/EveMaking Sacrifice necessary Abraham and Issac/ mirror of Christs sacrifice Christ Enthroned in Heaven/ Peter and Paul 14. 15. Christ Enthroned, 350-375 AD marble, 28 high The Greco-Roman influence on this depiction is great. Many converts still retained classical values so rareEarly Christian idols can be found.In succeeding Centuries the production of religious marbles cease entirely. 16. 17. GATHERING PLACES .Constantine was trying to establish Christianity as the religion of the empire. The small "house-churches", where Christians had previously privately celebrated their liturgy, and the poor cemetery shrines, and the cramped chambers for ceremonial dinners in the catacombs simply weren't enough to impress. Constantine's eastern churches (and a few in the west) might be circular or octagonal, but the main pattern in the west, and especially around Rome was an adaptation of the Roman civil basilica. Basilicas were places for meetings, civic musters, documentation and notarization, and, above all, for civil court proceedings. Rome was a most litigious place and venues for judgements had to be numerous to handle the big caseload. A magistrate took his seat in a "curile" chair in the apse at the end of the long central hall of a civil basilica, and there he -- never a she -- rendered his judgement. Often the judge's seat would be placed directly in front of a huge image of the Emperor, a statue seated in a correspondingly larger judgement chair of its own. Some Christian basilicas -- usually called cemetery basilicas -- held tombs, graves and sometimes a "martyrion", a centrally located shrine to a martyred Saint to which the church was dedicated. Old St. Peter's was one of these. 18. 1