History of Arts Research Paper

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Craig jones
Dagmar E. Sproll
April 3, 2012
Research Paper
Christian Art
In this research paper one will be reading about early Christian art and

about how pagan-inspired themes, classical influences, and its two major tendencies:

naturalism and abstract symbolism. Early Christian art and architecture is the art produced by

Christians or under Christian ruling from the earliest period between about 350 and 525. The

Christian art survived 2nd century’s and onwards. According to Beckwith “after 550 at the latest,

Christian art is classified as Byzantine, but It is also very difficult to know when Christian art

began. Prior to a large amount of Christians they may have been one of the best producing

durable works of art. Although Christianity was largely a religion of the less fortunate in this time

period” (Beckwith,john,2nd edn. 1979), and because of that there is a lack of surviving art due to

the lack of funds for patronage. Even though they had a lack of fund, they still made great work.

Early Christian practiced their religions in secret, and will make perfect catacombs

under Rome to bury their dead and then to practice their religion. Which in earliest times

included baptism and readings from early text. This became the catechism, the art of

catacombs is to celebrate a birth of a hero who teaches in mortal terms. The concepts of the protector healer, teacher and miracle maker are all based on the catechism. The Roman paganism, they worship of traditional gods natural spirits and emperors fail to satisfy peoples search for a meaningful satisfaction of metaphysical needs or guide to an ethical life. According to an article by David Balch “Some of the Traditional Roman state religion fails to satisfy intellectual or emotional needs of lower class paganism, in example: Image of Caesars as god, becomes satirical, deteriorating social values and economic opportunity, at time of great wealth to the privileged is demoralizing, Separation of people from the mystical experience and No ethical or moral teachings as examples” (Balch, David L, 2008, Mohr Siebeck).

The early Christian didn’t not deliberately copy the Isaac group for one of their most

sacred themes, or that they made direct use of symbolism which was connected in their minds

with what they thought was worshiping the devil but in reality their art was influenced and

allowed themselves to be inspired by a form of representation with which many of them were

familiar. In Rome the link which bound Christian with pagan art is painting and not sculptures.

All the earliest discoverys of the catacombs is through the medium of frescoes; sculptured

reliefs did not come into vogue until a later time. As it was shown in the book paganism and

Christianly “these arts were freely

inspired by pagan motives; but on this subject there were two main schools of opinion: (a) the

apologist for a purely Christian art who maintain that the resemblance to pagan contemporary

art is superficial and that we have here the seeds of an entirely new art which was eventually to

revolutionize the world, and (b) those who see in the figures of the good shepherd, the

prophets, virgins and martyrs, nothing but purely pagan designs”(pg. 143).

In Egypt however it is far more difficult to trace the connecting link. Probably the

Earliest Christian design is those worked in purple into the numerous specimens of cloth from

Akmim. Again the decoration of coffins and funerary furniture, which played a huge part in

Egyptain art, may very well have been the stepping stone by which pagan symbolism was

transferred to Christian decoration. The strange part is terra-cotta the medium employed

for the representation of numerous pagan deities, seems to have been forgotten by the early Christians of Egypt, but also one important execption to this appears in the figure of the good...
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