Christ Representation

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The purpose of this essay is to discuss how two different artists’ manipulation of the formal elements and the social context during time of creation play major roles in the ‘reading’ of an artwork. I have chosen to analyse an Early Christian depiction of Christ as the Good Shepherd and Christ the Pantokrator from the Byzantine era. The Early Christian era, according to History. spans from 330CE when Emperor Constantine the Great moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium and declared Christianity to be the official religion. Kleiner (2013:256) states the Byzantine era to span a millennium and where Byzantium refers to the Eastern Christian Roman Empire of this time, while Byzantine refers to everything regarding its territory, history and culture. Firstly, I will discuss the compositional design of each artwork and, secondly, I will contextualise each artwork and address the stylistic tendencies. Lastly I will be comparing and contrasting the artworks.

Christ as the Good Shepherd (See Addendum A Fig 1) is a mosaic which can be found at the entrance wall of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, Italy and was created in is 425CE. The size of this mosaic is unknown. (Kleiner, 2013: 247). The focal point of the composition is the Christ figure who is in the centre in a seated position, holding a gold staff which is in the shape of a cross. The figure also has a matching gold halo. The cross shaped staff and halo are symbols of the figures divinity and suggests that he is Christ. Jesus Christ is seen wearing a gold and purple robe which according to Catholic Saints (2008), purple “togas” were worn by powerful Roman Emperors and royalty. The strong use of complementary colours, gold and blue further emphasize the importance of the Christ figure as he stands out against the neutral coloured sheep. Honour & Fleming (2009:303) note that the portrayal of rocks at the base of the composition provide a solid base, which can be said to add to the certainty...
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