Late Antiquity / Early Christian Art

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early Christian art (ca 200CE) Christian art under Constantine (306-337) Christian art (337-526)

The Good Shepard

The first images of Jesus portrayed him as the Good Shepard: someone who takes care of his flocks. The sheep on Jesus's shoulders symbolizes a sinner, over whom Jesus watches kindly and lovingly.

Fish and anchor

(top of cross). Jesus is, metaphorically, a fisherman fishing for fish (which represent people); he gathers people in a net and saves them all.

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus

Christian images on a sarcophagus, including Old and New Testament stories (Adam and Eve, Jesus arriving in Jerusalem on a donkey). Two rows of five images each.

Old St. Peter's Basilica

First church in the New Rome (that isn't in Palestine). Currently this church is directly beneath the St. Peter's in the Vatican now. It meant community, shared love: agare = brotherly love. The basilica plan makes it very personal, unlike a temple.

Basilica plan

Basilicas are in the shape of the Christian cross. The apse is the rounded thing at the top, there are two transepts (if the basilica is a t, then the transepts are the - line). The nave is the center of a church, and is separated from the two sets of aisles on either side by columns. Behind the nave there's often a narthex (where worshipers enter basilica) and atrium in the narthex. The atrium is for monks(?)

baptistery

building used for baptisms

catacombs

subterranean networks of passageways designed as cemeteries for the persecuted Christians in ancient Rome.

orants

praying figures

martyr

individual who chose to die rather than deny his/her religious beliefs

liturgy

official ritual of public worship

messiah

savior. Christians believe Jesus is the messiah, but both Judaism and Islam reject him as both the son of god and as the savior. (Islam accepts him as a prophet, however)

Madonna (not the singer)

The Virgin Mary; Theokotos; "Bearer of God"

Annunciation

Archangel Gabriel tells Mary she will give birth to God's son.

Nativity

Jesus is born in Bethlehem and placed in a basket. An angel announces the birth.

Adoration of the Magi

A bright star alerts three wise men that the "King of the Jews" has been born. They travel for twelve days and when they reach the baby Jesus, give him gifts.

Massacre of the Innocents/Flight into Egypt

King Herod orders massacre of all infants in Bethlehem but an angel warns the holy family and they fleet to Egypt.

The Last Supper

While celebrating Passover, Jesus foretells his imminent betrayal, arrest, and death. Eating bread and wine turned into the modern day Eucharist.

Agony in the Garden

Jesus goes to Mount of the Olives to overcome fear of death by praying for divine strength.

Betrayal and Arrest

Judas betrays Jesus to Jewish authorities for money.

Flagellation and Mocking

Roman soldiers flagellate (whip) and mock Jesus by dressing him as the king of Jews, adorned in a crown of thorns.

Carrying the Cross to Crucifixion

Romans made Jesus carry his own cross from Sinai to Mt Calvary.

Deposition, Lamentation, Entombment

1) Disciples remove body from cross 2) they take it to tomb Joseph purchased and mourn him 3) followers lower him into his sarcophagus in his tomb.

Resurrection, Ascension

On Easter Sunday, Jesus rises from the dead and leaves his tomb when no one's looking. On the fortieth day, on the Mount of Olives, he ascends to heaven in a cloud, with people watching.

Lunette

Semicircular area in a wall over a door, niche, or window; in churches often contains a mosaic.

purpose of mosaics in Christianity

create a beautiful setting for Christian liturgy but also is a vehicle for instructing congregation about biblical stories and Christian dogma.

codex

pages of vellum or parchment bound together at one side.

vellum

calfskin

parchment

lambskin

Illuminated manuscript

luxurious painted books made before the printing press (or a largely literate society)

gospel

four New Testament books that relate to the life of Jesus

diptych

two paneled painting or altar piece OR ancient Roman/early Christian/Byzantine hinged writing tablet, often made of ivory.

Jesus as Good Shepard in Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy ca 425

Mosaic of Jesus, who is adorned in royal purple and gold and watches over his flock. Jesus is elevated to royal and divine status and retains less of his "good shepard" innocence because of it. Deeply rooted in naturalistic classical tradition.

Galla Placidia ca. 425

Interior of the mausoleum.

Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy; dedicated 504.

Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, established his capital at Ravenna. The palace-church contains an extensive series of mosaics telling stories from Old and New Testaments.

Suicide of Judas and Crucifixion of Christ, plaque from a box, ca 420.

The first known representation of the Crucifixion. Christ is a beardless youth who experiences no pain. He doesn't HANG from the cross, he is DISPLAYED on it. Judas, meanwhile, hangs himself. Made of ivory.

Rossano Gospels, early sixth century

The earliest preserved illuminated book that contains illustrations of the New Testament. In silver on purple vellum.

Vatican Vergil

The oldest preserved painted Greek or Latin manuscript, dates from early fifth century. Originally contained 200+ pictures illustrating Vergil's works. Is a prime example of survival of traditional Roman iconography and classical style.

Vienna Genesis

Oldest well-preserved painted manuscript containing biblical scenes. Made in early sixth century. Made of calfskin dyed with purple for an imperial look.

Divine Miracles of Jesus

Stories of Jesus healing and raising the dead, turning water into wine, walking on water and calming storms, creating wondrous quantities of food.

Delivery of the keys to St Peter

Jesus chose Peter as his successor, because Peter is the rock on which his church will be built and symbolically delivers to Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

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