Byzantine and Roman Empire Art

Topics: Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Constantinople Pages: 2 (556 words) Published: April 21, 2012
The Byzantine Empire was the new center for the Roman Empire, but did it directly inherit the art traditions from the Roman Empire? Give examples in your response.

The Byzantine people considered themselves as the heirs to the Roman Empire (Online Lecture) so this also meant that they inherited the art traditions of the Roman Empire. Their sculptures stayed with the classical style of the ancient Greek art but a new aesthetic and iconic type art began to develop. The new aesthetic art was created by the Christians to fulfill their religious needs. Byzantine art favored a more symbolic approach to religion by depicting frontal figures against a gold background and the idea the subject(s) might be floating. The subject matters in this art consisted largely of the combined religion and imperial power. This can be seen in the mosaic below (Kleiner, 137) of Justinian and the Bishop Maxinianus. The mosaic depicts Justinian, ruler of the time, in a purple rob and a halo over his head. He also holds the golden paten, helping to emphasize the balance between religion and power. He is flanked by members of the clergy on his left with the most prominent figure the Bishop Maximianus holding a golden cross. To Justinian's right appear members of the imperial administration identified by the purple stripe, and at the very far left side of the mosaic appears a group of soldiers, one holding a shield bearing the Christogram .

The presences of icons, portable paintings portraying Christ, Mary or saints, were also important during this time. They were more religious than aesthetic in nature: especially after the end of iconoclasm, they were understood to mark the unique presence of the figure depicted by means of a likeness to that figure maintained through carefully maintained canons of representation. The Virgin (Theotokos) and Child between Saints Theodore and George (Kleiner,138) is a good example of an icon.

This icon is created on wood, and represents...
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