Ancient Art History

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Early Jewish, Early Christian and Byzantine Art

Discuss the Roman influences on Early Christian sculpture. Look at the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus  and compare it with some of the attributes of Roman art.

-The Early christian architecture and tis decorations began to demonstrate increasing monumentality as a result of its dependence on Roman imperial traditions. This caused the early christian sculpture to be more impressive and a work of art that demonstrated this is a fine Early Christian stone coffin, the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus. This richly carved sarcophagus was made for a Roman who had died in 359 at age 42 and who had been “newly baptized” as an inscription would tell us. The front of this was divided by columns into ten compartments, which contains scenes from the Hebrew Bible and the Christian one (New Testament). The upper register we see from left to right the Sacrifice of Issac, St. Peter Taken Prisoner, Christ Enthroned Between Sts. Peter and Paul, and Jesus before Pontuis Pilate. The lower register are the Suffering of Job, the Temptation of Adam and Eve. Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem, Daniel in the Lion Den, and St. Paul led to His Martydom.

The depictions of Peter and Paul, the veritable official saints of the city of Rome in which each is commemorated by a major basilica in the city can be related to Junius Bassus’ role as a hight-ranking government official. The Top register where Christ is enthroned with his feet treading on a personification of Coleus, the Roman pagan god of the heavens, as he gives the law to his disciples. Throughout this stone coffin these depiction's have a deep meaning in them all and is all referenced to God. Also, on this sarcophagus the style relies on imperial convention. This is most evident n the elements of classicism that are expressed, rich are the placement within deep, space-filled niches of figures that recall the dignity of Greek and Roman sculpture.

Use an example from Early Christian and Byzantine art and discuss how artists used the narrative and the iconic imagery to convey the foundations of the Christian faith. What is the difference between  the “Iconic” meaning from the “narrative” meaning in a work of art. What are the striking differences between the treatment of style and subjects in the two periods,

-An example of Early Christian art is the Catacomb of Santissimi Pietro e Marcellino, Rome, Italy which was created in the 4th century. On the ceiling of one of the more elaborate chambers in the catacomb is decorated in a style that was once formal and uncomplicated. Fixed boarders control the overall organization; a central medallion or circle contains the figure of a shepherd, who is flanked by sheep and carries a lamb across his shoulders. The circle is connected to four Lunettes and in the four corners are single figures with outstretched raised arms. This ceiling actually was consistent with the biblical phohbitition against image making, as specified in the 2cd commandment. Which this commandment christ is generally not represented in the catacombs except by metaphor. The figure of the shepherd was was flanked by sheep and is caring a lamb is a potent allusion to christ, Sense, in a number of biblical accounts Christ would refer himself as a Good Shepherd. Due to a concern for the well being of his flock and willing to sacrifice himself in order to guarantee the salvation of those who followed him. The Four Lunettes around the Good Shepherd forms a dedication to the Hebrew prophet Johan. Also, a principle of faith that Jonah spent three days in the belly of a great Whale, therefore christ is suppose to have spent three days in the tomb. This also can be seen from classical sources and the Good Shepherd himself is a reinder of pagan symbols of charity in the form of ancient sculptures of men carrying sacrificial animals on their shoulders.

-The narrative meaning of work of art is showing messages of comfort and to give us a sense...
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