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The Christian Period

Early Christian art and architecture is the art produced by Christians or under Christian patronage from about the year 200 to about the year 500. Prior to 200 there is no surviving art that can be called Christian with absolute certainty. After about 500 Christian art shows the beginnings of Byzantine artistic style.

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A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone.

“GOOD SHEPHERD “ SARCOPHAGUS. *showing a great shepherd carrying sheep and grape harvest.



Middle Ages Art
Art during the Middle Ages saw many changes and the emergence of the early Renaissance period. Byzantine Art was the name given to the style of art used in very early Middle Ages Art. This period was also known as the Dark Ages ( 410 AD - 1066 AD ). The Dark Ages were followed by the Medieval era of the Middle Ages (1066 1485) and changes in Middle Ages Art which saw the emergence of the early Renaissance Art. To appreciate the full extent of the changes in Middle Ages Art and the Early Renaissance it is helpful to understand its forerunner - Byzantium Art and its effects on art during the Middle Ages.

The Dark Ages
Early scholars gave the name "Dark Ages" to the period in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. During this period, barbarian Goths, Vandals, and Huns swept down on Europe from the north and east. They destroyed many fine buildings and works of art that had existed during Roman times. During the Dark Ages, knowledge survived only in monasteries, and there were very few schools. Many of the old arts and crafts were lost. This is why the time was called the "Dark Ages."

 Byzantine


The capitol of the Roman Empire was Byzantium, renamed Constantinople. The Roman Empire was spit into two sections - the Eastern and Western part of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire fell when the German Visigoths, led by Alaric, sacked Rome. The Western part of the Empire disintegrated but the Eastern, or Byzantium Empire, stayed in tact. Early Medieval Art reflect the differences between the development of the Catholic religion in the west and the Byzantium Empire of the east.

Byzantine Art History - The Iconoclastic controversy (715 - 843)

Byzantine Iconography refers to the distinct art style embodied in Eastern Orthodox religious images painted during the period of the Byzantine Empire. The iconoclastic controversy was a religious rather than an artistic dispute which centred around how the Second Commandment of Moses should be interpreted. The iconoclasts believed that it meant that people should not create pictures of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary or the saints. The iconodules disagreed with this belief. The arguments and debates lasted for over one hundred years during which time many examples of Byzantine art were destroyed. The word 'iconoclasm' refers to the destruction of works of art on the grounds that they are impious.

Byzantine Art History - Macedonian Art (843-1025)

Macedonian art (sometimes called the Macedonian Renaissance) was a period in Byzantine art which began in the period followed the lifting of the ban on icons (iconoclasm). Macedonian art featured classical styles in beautiful floor mosaics, ornate ivory sculptures and more realistic paintings of people.

Byzantine Art History - The Sack of Constantinople in 1204
 The

sack of Constantinople was outrageous. Christian Crusaders, persuaded by the Venetians and motivated by financial greed, attacked and sacked Constantinople.  The crusaders burned down a great part of the city. They slaughtered the inhabitants and they deliberately destroyed monuments, statues, paintings, and manuscripts - the accumulation of a thousand years of Byzantine Art.

Byzantine Art History - The Palaiologos dynasty
 Under

the rule of the Palaiologoi, the fragmented Byzantine empire still claimed descent from the Roman Empire, but began to focus more on their Greek heritage. The Palaiologan period witnessed a renewed flourishing in Byzantine art in what has been called the "Palaiologian Renaissance". This heralded a renewed golden age of Byzantine art because of the increasing interaction between Byzantine and Italian artists. The influence of Italian art resulted in Italian-style frescoes replacing the traditional mosaic-work.

The Art of Byzantium Royal, Luxurious, Heavenly, and Spiritual
 In

the apse mosaic at Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, Italy, c.549, the change is complete. Notice the different arrangement in the human figure and sheep between this image and the Good Shepherd image in the Galla Placidia tomb.  Notice, too, the gold background and the abstraction of landscape elements.

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 "Virgin

and Child with Saints" is an icon from the Monastery of St. Catherine, Mount Sinai, Egypt, 6th Century. 

 Cover

of the "Reliquary of the True Cross," c.9th Century, silver gilt, cloissone enamel, and niello.

 Byzantine

gold pectoral (neck-ring or necklace), mid6th Century, gold and niello.

Byzantine Bracelet from  Constantinople,  c.600­650, gold, pearls,  emeralds and saphires

 "The

Pantocrator" is from the Royal Church at Monreale, Sicily.  Mosaic,  Late 12th Century. 

Christ Pantocrator" in the central dome, Church of the Dormition, Daphne, Greece. Mosaic, c.1090-1100.

 Byzantine

medallion in cloissone enamel on gold, 3 1/4" diameter.

Byzantine medallions  shown once decorated a  silver icon, like the one  shown in the center. 

 "The

Virgin and Child" is another popular Byzantine subject for painted wood panel icons and mosaics.  Like the image of Jesus, Mary and the Infant Jesus are also shown in an agreed-upon conventional way.  Note the similarities of the pose and facial features of Mary as well as the appearance of the infant.

 "The

Vladimir Madonna" is a 12th Century icon, painted wood. 

"Madonna and Child  on a curved throne"  is a late 13th  Century icon,  tempera on wood  panel, 

  The

"Icon of the Savior" to the left, a Georgian icon, has all the elements of Byzantine art:  the conventionalized appearance of Jesus, the gold relief set with pearls, rubies, garnet, turquoise, amythest and bone.

The Old Testament Trinity Prefiguring the Incarnation" 
This late Byzantine style can be seen in the art of the west in late Gothic and early Renaissance painting.

he middle period between the decline of the Roman Empire and prior to the period called the Renaissance .

 Medieval

Life and Times The term Medieval derives from the Latin words 'medium aevum' meaning the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages are so called as the middle period between the decline of the Roman Empire and prior to the period called the Renaissance. The early Middle Ages are often referred to as the Dark Ages. The period and era of the Medieval times span 1066 - 1485.

Architecture of the Middle Ages: Castles

Famous Medieval Castles

The famous castles built in the era include the Tower of London, Warwick Castle, Leeds Castle, Windsor Castle, Caernarvon Castle and the Chateau Galliard.

Leeds Castle

Chateau Galliard


 Dark

Age people prized gold and other precious metals and things because they had no other stable thing in life

 The 

most precious things were books. The cover of this one is studded with jewels

Books done in the most fancy way were called 'Illuminated Manuscripts.'  Illuminated because it seemed light was coming from them, and manuscripts because they were all one of a kind

Over 1000 years old , the Cross of Lothar is one of the most beautiful objects from the distant past . the front ( left ) is studded with jewels and the back has a stenciling of the Crucifixion , it is priceless .

Relics were kept in safe containers decorated with holy images like this one


 This 

frieze portrays Jesus and Mary fleeing to Egypt on a horse

 This 

one shows Eve, in her hand is the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

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is Christ on the Cross in stained glass

 Entire 

walls of the cathedrals were murals like this one, of Mary




of Jesus at the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, as an infant

Lady of Vladimir, Mary with Jesus

Icon of the


The icon of the death of Mary in the later decades, being welcomed into heaven by Jesus

The icon of St. Nicholas, who loved children

The Carolingian and Ottonian Periods Carolingian architecture and Ottonian art are commonly considered to have
been the earliest manifestations of discernibly Germanic art.  As the center of Charlemagneís empire, the Rhineland was the home of the massive palace chapel at Aachen (c.800), decorated with mosaics and of contemporary churches such as the one at Fulda.  Many of these show the revival of early Christian plans.  Carolingian ivory book covers and diptychs were also notable.  The first outstanding examples of German painting and sculpture were created (c.960 to c.1060) during the Ottonian dynasty.  Splendid manuscripts, enriched by illuminations remarkable for their force of linear expression, issued from the school of Reichenau (e.g., the Gospels of Otto III, State Library, Munich), while in Cologne miniature painting exhibited a brilliant use of color.  Fine craftsmanship is apparent in the metalwork of this period, from the small objects produced by the goldsmiths of Mainz to more massive achievements, such as the bronze doors (1015) for the Church of St. Michael at Hildesheim.  The architecture of St. Michaelís exemplifies a tendency in Ottonian buildings toward the development of a complex ground plan.  A highly rational system was devised of dividing the church into a series of separate units, a method that was to be of consequence in Romanesque design

A coin of Charlemagne with the inscription KAROLVS IMP AVG (Karolus imperator augustus)

Aachen Gospels (c. 820), an example of Carolingian illumination.

The Aachen cathedral treasury displays sacral masterpieces of the late Classical, Carolingian, Ottonian and Staufian period among them there are some unique exhibits like the »Cross of Lothair« the »Bust of Charlemagne« and the »Persephone sarcophagus«. The Cathedral Treasury in Aachen is regarded as one of the most important ecclesiastical treasuries in northern Europe


Church of St Michael .

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