Justinian, Bishop and Attendants

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Jonmundur Gretarsson
LA 120 OL9: Art History through the 15th Century
Assignment Final Essay
Lindsey King
08/0812
Justinian, Bishop, and Attendants & Allegory of Good Government

Justinian, Bishop, and Attendants

&

Allegory of Good Government

In this essay I will discuss these two paintings and answer why they are both so unique for their time. I will also compare their content and context. I will also discuss how the mosaic Justinian and Attendants was used as means of political propaganda.

The beautiful church San Vitale was built in the 6th century in Ravenna, Italy. The Greek banker Julius Argentarius sponsored the construction of the church and it was built to honor Saint Vitalis for his Christian beliefs. Like so many other amazing buildings at this time it housed some of the best Byzantine Art. One of the most famous images of political authority from the Middle Ages is the beautiful Mosaics who are of the Emperor and Empress, the beautiful Justinian,Bishop Maximianus & Attendants and Theodora And Attendants.

The mosaic is on the north wall of the apse,San Vitale ,Ravenna, Italy and was made around 547 BC.. The Emperor Justinian is holding the bread, and Theodora the wine, which shows the true importance of the Emperor who was the leader of the church. Justinian is in the center of the art and more up front than other. This shows us the religious, administrative and military authority the Emperor has. He is between the power of the church and the imperial administration and army. He wears a crown and a purple imperial robe. On his left side are members of the clergy and Bishop Maximianus of Ravenna who was responsible for San Vitales completion. On his right are members of the imperial administration which we can see by their purple stripe, then at the far left side are a group of soldiers. We can see that the Emperor saw himself as the defender of Christian Faith and felt his duty was to establish the faith throughout the Empire. The priest and Justinian are carrying a censer, the gospel book, the cross and the bowl for the bread of the Eucharist. The fact that Justinian is carrying the bread might be a gesture to show the True King respect. The image also shows Christ offering his crown to Justinian, as a symbol of Justinian being Christ's governor on earth.

The Emperor and Empress are in royal attire and have attendants on their sides. The Emperor has a golden halo standing next to the Bishop, palatine guards and deacons. The Empress has a golden halo, crown and jewels and a train of court ladies. She seems to be moving from left to right into the church. The heads of all the subjects are the same height, but the images flat and the background is in gold which was the Byzantine trademark. The church has an octagonal plan and combines some of Roman Elements and Byzantine elements. Theodora is taking part in the Eucharist as she carries the golden cup with the wine. The portrait of Theodora is the same style as in the Justinian mosaic. She stands beneath an imperial canopy, waiting to follow the Emperor. She is standing outside the sanctuary which shows that she was not ranked equal to her consorts but the fact that she is there still shows her importance.

Ambrogio Lorenzetis was an artist living in Siena Italy at the 14th century and working at the beginning of the Renaissance. He was commissioned to paint frescoes on the walls of the Council Room of the City Hall of Siena. The paintings are representations of allegorical figures of virtue in how republic was governed. These paintings are complex works which had some Gothic influence of other Sienese painters. They are considered to be groundbreaking for that period of time and his work is in many ways timeless.

The piece is in the Town hall in the city of Apenine Peninsula. Before these new architecture buildings appeared, art was mostly related with churches and therefore religious themes. The Allegory of Good...
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