Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Art History Everyone Should Know: Late Roman, Early Christian, and Byzantine Art

Late Roman and Early Christian Art
Time Line
Ancient Greece 100 B.C.E.
Golden Age of Pericles- 500 B.C.E.
High Hellenistic Period- 350 B.C.- 100 B.C.E.
Beginning of Pagan Roman Empire- 200 B.C.E.
Roman Empire- 200 B.C.- 315 C.E.
Early Christian Era- 315 A.D. - 800 C.E.

 

 


















x Arch of Titus, Rome, Italy c 81 CE. 
Concrete and white marble
50' tall
Roman Empire
Form:  Using the technology of Roman arches and the advancements of Roman slow drying concrete the massive monument serves no real purpose.  The outer surface is adorned with a veneer of marble panels and a facade of functionless post and lintel engaged columns in the Corinthian style.  Above the barrel vaulted arch, on both sides of the monument, are inscriptions in Roman capital letters.  Inside the two sides of the arche's tunnel are two relief sculptures. Iconography:  The use of arches for a monument is an expression of Roman technology and therefore Roman genius.  The triumphal arch is a common symbol that is dedicated to the victories of particular emperors.  In this case the victory of Titus over the Jews.
Context:  Titus is the same emperor who completed the construction of the Colosseum.  Arches like this were all over Rome and served as honorific gateways over main roads in the city.  This particular arch was dedicated by Domitian to commemerate his predessesor's victories.  Originally there would have been a massive sculpture of four horse chariot and driver.  Stokstad (254) gives and excellent contemporary account of the reasons why and circumstances surrounding the creation of this arch.

 
relief in the passageway of the
Arch of Titus, Rome c 81 CE. 
Concrete and white marble
50' tall


Bottom image is a reconstruction 
of what this frieze looked like
Form:  This relief sculpture is very naturalistic and uses relief in order to create a sense of space and volume.  Notice the inclusion of the arch in the releif at the far right is depicted at an angle almost as if the sculptors were using linear perspective.  Space is also created through size scale relationships, by overlapping the figures and by making the figures and objects in the background lower relief than those in the foreground.  The figures are naturalistically depicted and in some instances the drapery almost looks like the wet drapery style that dominates Greek art. Iconography:  This is clearly a victory scene as is evidenced by the processional carrying the spoils as they enter a triumphal arch at the left.  The icon of Jewish victory and resistance, the menorah, meaning is changed by a its change of context.  The Roman soldiers who carry another peoples' cultural icon are demonstrating their own victory by stealing it and exhibiting as a trophy.
Context: Roman soldiers carrying off the Menorah, the even-branched candelabra, and other spoils from the Temple in Jerusalem. The Roman general Titus had the Temple destroyed (7O CE) and the Jewish population expelled. Jews began to settle throughout the Roman Empire, along the coast of North Africa, in Italy and Spain, along the river Rhine and in France.
quote from
http://www.friends-partners.org/partners/beyond-the-pale/eng_captions/04-1.html

 
The Arch of Constantine -312-315 CE
Rome, Italy, Late Roman Empire
Form:  The overall form of the monument is similar to the Arch of Titus however, there are two additional arches on either side of the main one and the ornamentation of the monument is stolen from other monuments throughout Rome.  Another aspect of the ornamentation that this shares with Titus's monument is the use of post and lintel architectural components strictly for ornamental reasons.  For eaxmple, the columns do not support an entablature and are placed on pedestals of there own as if to honor them like a sculpture. Iconography:  The increased size of this monument is a way of out doing Constantine's predessors.  The reapporopriation of the round panels above the side arches is also a way of expressing power, even over the past.  Professor Farber comments,
Significantly it was decided to include on the Arch of Constantine reliefs that were taken from monuments made for earlier Emperors. There is a relief in the passageway under the primary arch that is from the time of the Emperor Trajan, while the roundels or medallions were made for the Emperor Hadrian. The oblong reliefs in the attic come from the time of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Scholars used to argue that this use of "spolia" from earlier buildings was a good indication of artistic decline. More recently scholars have seen this inclusion of earlier monuments as a way of linking Constantine to the great emperors of the past.
http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/
arth212/late_antiquity_imp_image.html
Context: The arch was was erected in honor of the first Christian Emperor's victory over Maxentius at Soxa Rubra (the Milvian Bridge) in 312 AD, just north of Rome.  Constantine then established the city of Constantinople that is now the city of Istanbul in Turkey.  Constantine was first Christian emperor although he did not get baptized until he was on his deathbed and he is also the emperor who legalized Christianity with his Edict of Milan c 318 CE.

 
 


According to Professor Farber,
A monument documenting the shift in conception of Imperial power is represented by the Triumphal Arch built by the Senate to commemorate Constantine's defeat of his rival Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D. It is hard to underestimate the importance of Constantine in the narrative of Medieval art. His patronage and ultimate conversion to Christianity were pivotal in the transformation of Christianity as a religion on the margins to Christianity as integral to imperial power. An important theme we will be developing in the first part of this course is the Christianization of Rome and the Romanization of Christianity. It is interesting to note that on the Arch that was constructed adajacent to the Colosseum, near the formal center of old Rome, there are no references to Christianity. There is not even a reference to the famous vision of the monogram of Christ that Constantine was believed to have seen before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. It is important to see how this monument justifies Constantine's power by linking him to the Roman Imperial past. In its form as a Triumphal Arch it links Constantine to the tradition of this form going back to monuments like the Arch of Titus constructed after 81 A.D. http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth212/late_antiquity_imp_image.html

detail Arch of Constantine 312-315 CE Rome,
The top Roundels depict Hadrian Hunting Boar 
and Sacrificing to Apollo sculpted c 130-130 CE
the bottom is of Constantine addressing the Senate
c 312-315   3' tall
Late Roman Empire
Form:  The relief sculptures on the exterior of the arch are rather dispaparite in style.  The circular medallions contain very naturalistic sculptures, some standing in contrapposto and wearing the wet drapery style.  The frieze beneath these medalions are of a completely different style.  The bodies are disproportionate.  The heads are too large and the drapery of their clothing does little to reveal the anatomy it covers.  The doll like figures lack contrapposto.  Unlike the relief from the arch of Titus, this relief does not make any real attempt to create space except fro the architectural elements which are rendered very unimaginatively.  Iconography:  Gardner suggests that the theft and recarving of the faces of the roundels was an attempt to associate Constantine with the "good" emperors of earlier periods.  For some art historians the lower frieze, which represents Constantine addressing the senate represents the decline of the Roman empire at least artistically.  The  lack of realism could represent the new political and theological climate of Rome.  The image is much more diagramatic and straightforward.  The viewer has all the iconography placed before them in one single unobstructed view. Constantine is placed in the center of the symmetrically designed composition which puts him in the most important position.  Perhaps this new digramatic style is related to the second commandment and its law against images.  It has also been suggested that the larger heads and reduction of naturalistic elements relates to the new Christian ideal of deemphasizing the physical world and reemphasizing the spiritual and mental.
 

According to Professor Farber,
Notice how Constantine has the same ad locutio gesture we observed in the comparison of the Augustus of Primaporta and the Colossus of Barletta. In the language of Roman Imperial art, this gesture clearly identifies the active subject of the image. The ritualized nature of the gesture also associates the bearer of the gesture to the tradition of Roman Imperial power. This connection to past power that we have already noted in the plan of the arch as a whole is further reitterated in specific details of this relief. It has been noted that the two seated figures at either end of the rostrum are representations of sculptural portraits of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius. The three highest figures in the relief are, thus, Constantine (had his head survived) and the two second century predecessors. The five columns behind the rostrum make a reference to the link between Constantine and his immediate predecessor Diocletian. In 303 A.D. a monument commemorating the tenth year of Diocletian's rule was constructed at the rostrum. The monument was composed of five columns with the central one topped by an image of Jupiter, flanked by others topped by images of the four Tetrarchs. This relief thus places Constantine at the center of Rome both physically and historically. http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/arth212/late_antiquity_imp_image.html
Context:  These medallions are probably sculptures that were transplanted from a monument created in the first century AD.
 

The Parthenon 

Basilican plan for the original St. Peters
The components of the Basilican Style of Building
(please see Stokstad page 298 Elements of Architecture: Basilica-Plan and Central-Plan Churches) The basilican plan is initially a wide open space that was designed to accomodate large group of people.  It formed in a square or rectangular form that contains a large inner space.  At one end of the basilica is usually an apse which is a large half circle mebedded in the wall and usually contains a statue or altar.  Notice it's similarity to the plan of the Parthenon's plan.  For Christian or Catholic basilican plans, like the Parthenon, St. Peters is also oriented towards the east.  For liturgical purposes the apse always faces east.  The apse was also important because it housed the Christian relics and the altar was placed in the apse. 
"Basilica" is a Greek word meaning "honored" and it is possible that for this reason one of the most used architectural form is the basilican plan which was used in the design of Christian churches. 
The parts of the basilica are:
apse- the area where the relics are stored and where the altar stands.  The term literally means "half wheel."
nave- this is the center of the structure.  The word has its root in the Greek or Latin word meaning ship.
atrium- this is a courtyard/waiting area.  It serves as a type of buffer zone between the secular and spiritual world.  It is a carry over from Greek and Roman home architecture.

 
 
The Basilica of Constantine, Rome Italy
Begun by Maxentius in 306-310, 
and completed by Constantine in 312-337
Late Roman


Context:  This section is quoted fromhttp://www2.trincoll.edu/~mzimmerm/zimmerman/Chapter4/bascon.html The Basilica of Constantine was begun by his predecessor, Maxentius, in 306 AD, directly at the start of his rule, but which again was not completed until after Constantine had seized power, so therefore it bears his name. Originally, the basilica opened up onto the Colosseum, but under Constantine, this was changed, and the entrance was placed facing the Sacra Via. Combining both Hadrianic and pre-Hadrianic architecture, the basilica retains the same basic plan as does the Basilica Julia, but with a series of barrel vaults on both sides, and two large apses, perpendicular to one another, for the seating of the judges.
Form:  This massive building is built in a typical baslican floor plan but departs from that schema in its use of barrel vaults over the sde aisles and intersecting groin vaults over the nave. This sdesign is in some ways closer to the design of the Baths of Caralla 216 CE. The raised nave allows light to fill the vaulted area and the use of the groin vaults creates a large open space.  This basilloica also departs from the basic basilican plan because it has two apses because the entrance was moved.  The interior surfaces of the walls were lavishly decorated with veneers of different colored marble and mosaics.
Iconography: The basilican form is a time honored form that derives its intitial inspiration from the Parthenon.  The the word basilica is Greek and means "honored."  Constantine's victory is symbolized by fact that this building was no longer in Maxentius's possesion.  His redocoration and altering of the structure is also a symbolic gesture made concrete by the structure itself..

Context: In 313 AD the Roman general, Constantine, possibly sensing the change in religious climate, had a miraculous dream and after his victory over Maxentius he adopted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire with his "edict of Milan."  After this happened, Roman Christians naturally adopted the traditional Roman art and architectural styles for use in the worship of Christianity. "Basilica" is a Greek word meaning "honored" and it is possible that for this reason one of the most used architectural form is the basilican plan which was used in the design of Christian churches.  According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Old St. Peter's Basilica was the 
first basilica of St. Peter's in Rome, a five-aisled basilican-plan church with apsed transept at the west end that was begun between 326 and 333 at the order of the Roman emperor Constantine and finished about 30 years later. The church was entered through an atrium called Paradise that enclosed a garden with fountains. From the atrium there were five doors into the body of the church. The nave was terminated by an arch with a mosaic of Constantine, accompanied by St. Peter, presenting a model of his church to Christ. On the clerestory walls, each pierced by 11 windows, were frescoes of the patriarchs, prophets, and Apostles and scenes from the Old and New Testaments. Old St. Peter's was torn down in the early 16th century and replaced by New St. Peter's 
Form:  Although the overall plan and rising windowed nave adhere to the standard Roman basilican plan, the main differences between St. Peters Basilica and Constantine's were the materials and the technology.  Old St. Peter's Basilica was not as lavish.  Initially it had a post and beam design made of timbers rather than the groin vault and stone and concrete arches used in Constantine's basilica

Parts of an Early Christian Basilica
(quoted directly from Dr. Farber's Website) 1) Propylaeum- the entrance building of a sacred precinct, whether church or imperial palace.
2) Atrium- in early Christian, Byzantine, and medieval architecture, the forecourt of a church; as a rule enveloped by four colonnaded porticoes.
3) Narthex- the entrance hall or porch proceding the nave of a church.
4) Nave- the great central space in a church. In longitudinal churches, it extends from the entrance to the apse (or only to the crossing if the church has one) and is usually flanked by side aisles.
5) Side Aisle- one of the corridors running parallel to the nave of a church and separated from it by an arcade or colonnade.
6) Crossing- the area in a church where the transept and the nave intersect.
7) Transept- in a cruciform church, the whole arm set at right angles to the nave. Note that the transept appears infrequently in Early Christian churches. Old St. Peter's is one of the few example of a basilica with a transept from this period. The transept would not become a standard component of the Christian church until the Carolingian period.
8) Apse- a recess, sometimes rectangular but usually semicircular, in the wall at the end of a Roman basilica or Christian church. The apse in the Roman basilica frequently contained an image of the Emperor and was where the magistrate dispensed laws. In the Early Christian basilica, the apses contained the "cathedra" or throne of the bishop and the altar.
9) Nave elevation- term which refers to the division of the nave wall into various levels. In the Early Christian basilica the nave elevation usually is composed of a nave colonnade or arcade and clerestory.
10) Clerestory- a clear story, i.e. a row of windows in the upper part of a wall. In churches, the clerestory windows above the roofs of the side aisles permit direct illumination of the nave.

The Catacomb of St. Peters and Marcellinus -
200 CE Rome, Italy
Early Christian
(go here for more detail views)
 
Form:  The catacombs were a series of underground tunnels dug into the soft volcanic rock beneath Rome.  Some of the tunnels were connected as an overall network system.  The small spaces were most often used as tombs in which the bodies were kept in crypts and in niches carved directly into the rock.  The cells or rooms for these tombs were often decorated with frescoes although in terms of the illusionistic and over all quality of the frescoes were not as fine as those found in Pompeii. This particular fresco is on the ceiling of one of the chambers.  It is a symmetrical design that fits the contours of the ceiling.  The over all shape is a medallion (circular form) which contains another circle.  Radiating from the inner circle is a cruciform (cross like) design that terminates in lunettes (small half circles).  Each of the empty spaces contained by the design hold a scene or a figure.  The figures all stand the orant pose but those inside the half circles and the central circle contain slightly different scenes.
The central circle contains a naturalistically rendered image of a figure standing in contrapposto pose.  His over all pose follows the schema of the sculpture of the Moscophoros.   The surrounding lunettes show scenes from the story of Jonah and the Whale. 
Iconography:  The imagery is neither wholly Roman, Jewish or Christian but instead a kind of composite of the best qualities of each.  The contrapposto pose and nude figures done in the Roman style demonstrate that the the ideas of kalos and beauty from the Greek classic periods have not completely faded.  The image of the youth carrying the lamb, is a borrowing from the Moscophoros image dealing with a sacrificial lamb but also refers to the Jewish and Christian ideas concerning King David from the Old Testament as a foreshadowing of the images of Christ as the "Good Shepherd."  The use of Old Testament themes to illustrate New Testament stories is referred to by Stokstad as typological exegesis.  (Go to Stokstad page 293 for more on Jonah)
Context:  Stokstad has an excellent description of the context that these frescoes would have been found in on page 293.
 
 

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus c359 CE
4x8' marble, St. Peter's, Rome Italy
Early Christian Culture and Period
Form:  The overall form of the casket is almost like that of a symmetrical classical or Roman building.  There are Composite columns, arches, entablatures and pediments.  Each of the scenes is contained within its own architectural niche.  Each of the individual scenes is then also structured into a symmetrical or semi symmetrical composition.  The fairly high relief figures, although a bit more classical in their depiction of contrapposto and drapery are still proportioned very much like the figures on the Arch of Constantine.  Iconography: The use of classical orders and Roman arches is a link with the culture of Rome and a way of making the new Christian iconography "classic."  The scenes chosen are a selection of the stories of both the Old and New Testaments.  The purpose of placing these scenes together  is a typological exegesis.  Each of the Old Testament scenes is designed to link refer to the newer ideas expressed in the New Testament.  (See Stokstad The Iconography of Jesus pg 307 and the text on page 308-9.)
This is a diagram of the scenes.
Abraham and Isaac Peter Arrested for Preaching after Jesus's Death Christ Enthroned Christ before Pontius Pilate Christ before Pontius Pilate
Misery of Job Fall of Man
(Adam and Eve)
Christ's Entry into Jerusalem Daniel in the Lion's Den St. Paul Lead to His Martyrdom
Here's an example of one of these typologies from the Old Testament of the Jewish/Christian Bible that relates to a message or theme in the New Testament.   The story of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" is a story in which a Jew's faith was being challenged because he would not bow down to a Persian king.  He was thrown into a lion's den but because he put his faith in "god" he was not harmed.  His faith protected him and he was rewarded.  This is similar to how Jesus' faith was tested when he was before Pontius Pilate.
As in the frieze on the Arch of Constantine, these images are much more diagramatic and straightforward.  The viewer has all the iconography placed before them in one single unobstructed view. Jesus, in the center panel, is placed in the center of the symmetrically designed composition which puts him in the most important position.  Perhaps this new digramatic style is related to the second commandment and its law against images.  It has also been suggested that the larger heads and reduction of naturalistic elements relates to the new Christian ideal of deemphasizing the physical world and reemphasizing the spiritual and mental.
Context:  Junius Bassus was a city prefect (a minor official in the Roman government) who converted just before his death.  The practice of converting on one's death bed or shortly before one's death was a fairly common practice and a way of insuring that, just in case the Christian's were right, that the after life would be pleasant.
Some messy contextual notes on Catholicism/Christianity 300-1500 AD
  • Catholic: means “universal”
  • Monotheistic
  • Triad of Three cultures ideas: Roman, Greek, Jewish
  • Greeks and Romans gave it:
    • Plays for morality,
    • Symbols of dome and circle (iconography),
    • Saints, Bldgs.,
    • State religion w/ pope @ head, roads, technology, laws, language
  • Jews gave it:
    • monotheistic faith,
    • Bible (Old Testament),
    • rules,
    • 10 Commandments
  • Vulgate: common version of the Bible
  • Christ: means “annointed”, blessed one
  • Philosophical points: it’s all about love, be nice to one another, forgiveness, guilt
  • So popular b/c: afterlife is rewarding, Jesus and apostles from lower class so people relate, rulers are dictators, (antiwar, afterlife, forgiveness).
  • Edict of Milan: legalized Christianity
  • Nicene Creed: standard Catholic (universal) philosophy
    • Jesus was not a prophet but actually God on Earth
    • Holy Trinity is three beings all of same vehicle;
      1. God- creator,
      2. Jesus- incarnate flesh,
      3. Ghost- spirit
    • Heretics are people against church; “wrong believers”
  • Structure of Church’s Authority:
    • Jesus’s #1 Main Apostle- Peter (Petrus) (“rock”, 1st pope)
    • “On this rock I will build this church,” said Jesus.
    • Hierarchy:
      1. Pope
      2. Bishops
      3. Cardinals.
        1. Bishops become priests and cardinals are important bishops that elect pope.
  • Old Testament: prophetic book (typological exegesis) leads to life of Christ
    •   Psalms: songs
    •   Prophecy: coming of messiah
    •   Apocrypha: history added on, leads up to birth Christ, family tree
  • New Testament: Gospels (teachings & stories)
    •   Acts: apostles’ stories after life Christ
    •   Letters: lives of apostles
    •   Revelation: apocalypse
Byzantine Art Time Line
Beginning of Pagan Roman Empire- 200 B.C.E.
Roman Empire- 200 B.C.- 315 C.E.
Early Christian/Byzantine 315-750 C.E  (some sources say the Byzantine style survived all the way to 1450)
Romanesque 800-1150 C.E.
Gothic 1150-1350 C.E.
NOTE:  The chapter on Byzantine art in Stokstad is excellent and this section of the on-line textbook is a little skimpy so make sure you read it!
 

Hagia Sophia (Sofia) 532-37
architects: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus
Istanbul, Turkey (Byzantium)
Byzantine
Form:  This is a central-plan design that expands on the original basilican design.  The design incorporates the use of pendentives, buttressing half domes, and arch and dome technology creating a large many storied central area.  Expands on the concept, engineering and design function of the Pantheon by adding cross vaulting technology that the Romans had developed. A good example of this cross vaulting technology is in the Basilica of Constantine. Decorative forms (in terms of two-dimensional designs) inside the Hagia Sofia reflect early Byzantine Style, which means that even up to the 1300's they are still using many of the same things in the Hagia Sofia to depict people. 
Iconography: The name Hagia Sofia can be translated as "Holy Wisdom."  The plan has the form of a Greek cross surmounted by a dome which as in the Pantheon is a symbol of the dome of heaven.  The engineering used is also symbolic of the power and intelligence of Constantine's empire.
Context:  The geographic location of Hagia Sofia places it in the region of Byzantium. The city where they moved the empire to is called Constantinople that is in modern day Turkey, and is also now called Istanbul. The four minarets that surround it were built later.  They were added by the Muslims to them to call the faithful to worship after the church was transformed into a mosque. A mosque is an Islamic place of worship. The ornamentation of the interior is Islamic looking.
For more details of images at Hagia Sofia go here.

 

Capital, Hagia Sophia (Sofia) 532-37
architects: Anthemius of Tralles and Isidorus of Miletus
Istanbul, Turkey (Byzantium)
Byzantine
Form:  This capital at first appears to be an almost Corinthian capital but on closer inspection it is the correction of the original Greek and Roman orders.  The designs on the capital are much more ornate and less solid looking then its predecessors.  The over all intricate organic patterning and weaving of the ornamentation is abstract and overly ornate.  Iconography:  The organic vine like qualities refer to the symbol of Christianity as a vine that keeps spreading.   In the center of the column is the monogram or initials for Justinian the emperor who commissioned the structure.  The use of classical ornamentation and then the obvious changing of it is symbolic of the fusion of the Roman and Greek classic ideals wedded to the culture and decorative forms of the east as well as the iconography of Christianity.
The symbology of the vine relates to many images of vines in the Old and New Testament:
John
Chapter 15
1
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
2
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
3
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
4
Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.
5
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.
6
Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.
Go here for a Catholic Sermon on the iconography of vines: http://www.abideinchrist.com/messages/jn15v1.html
 
 

Mosaic of Christ from the interior of 
Hagia Sophia
created c 1300
Form:  Decorative forms (in terms of two-dimensional designs) inside the Hagia Sofia reflect early Byzantine Style, which means that even up to the 1300's they are still using many of the same things in the Hagia Sofia to depict people.  The figures are stylized in a typical Byzantine mode.  The heads are too large and the bodies are covered completely with drapery that does not reveal the anatomy beneath.   It also shares some elements from the Arch of Constantine, the heads are big and there's no Contrapposto (liberal movement in figures).  The facial anatomy is stylized.  The face is also elongated and the nose meets the bridge of the brows and the eyebrows actually go directly into the nose.  These are some of the elements that become standardized in Byzantine Manuscript 
Iconography:  The distortions of the anatomy are symbolic.  The distortions and diagrammatic and cartoon like drapery deemphasizes the figure's naturalism and emphasizes the spiritual, intellectual and didactic aspects of the figures.  Jesus is represented as a teacher and his weapon against evil is the Holy Bible or Libris Mundi (Latin: "book of the world") and his compassion. 
Jesus is also surrounded by a halo which symbolizes an aura of light.  Possibly meant to be literally a symbol of "enlightenment."  Inscribed inside the halo is the cross on which Jesus was martyred and on either side of the cross are his initials IC XC.  Basically it is an acronim for his name in Greek.  The acronym when promounced sounds like "ichthys" which sounds very much like the Greek word for fish.  Hence the fish symbols on either side of his head.
 
 
Context:  The Byzantine style, although centered around the geographic region of Constantine's Byzantium, expands all through out the Christian world.  It was used for manuscript and church art throughout France, Italy, Spain and the rest of Europe well into the 1400's and perhaps even later.   As an artistic style it is used well into the Romanesque and Gothic periods.  Even during the Renaissance there are still artists who use Byzantine drapery and facial stylization.
For more details of images at Hagia Sofia go here.

Jacob Wrestling the Angel
The Vienna Genesis, 
Probably made in Syria or Palestine.
Early 6th century. 
Tempera, gold, and silver paint 
on purple-dyed vellum,
approx. 9"x12"
Osterreiche Nationalbibliothek, Vienna
Byzantine Style
detail images go to see also Stokstad fig 7-35
Page with Rebecca at the Well
Form:  This manuscript page, made on animal skin, marks the evolution of Christian manuscript making.  Manuscripts combined two forms of art, calligraphy and painting.  The term calligraphy literally means beautiful writing (kalos: beauty graphos: to write)  The letters and words are written in silver (now tarnished black) in Greek and follow a fairly unified style of script without much of the variation and ornamentation that develops later in Christian and Islamic manuscripts. The page was conceived of as a whole composition in which the words at the top, packed tightly and uniformly across the surface, balance with the almost frieze like image beneath.  The narrative beneath starts at the left and continues around in a reversed "C" like shape.  Multiple scenes with the same characters inhabit the same space.  This convention referred to as a continuous narrative, run throughout the entire manuscript and mimic the paintings of Dura Europos.
Iconography:  Color and the materials used to adorn the book are iconic.  The silver and gold paint elevate the physical and therefore highlight the spiritual value of the text.  The same is true of the expensive purple dye of the page which is also symbolic of royalty.  (Note the purple robes of Theodora and Justinian above.)  The decorative qualities of how things are written, called calligraphy (calos- beautiful graphy- to write) is symbolic in and of itself.  The beauty and care in which the letters, words, and decorative forms are written is symbolic of the beauty of the meaning of the words and phrases.  Figures are represented very much like Christ figure from Hagia Sofia, which exists from the 13th century. The drapery stylization and face are the same.
The story here is important Read Mencher Liaisons 15-21 (Selections from Genesis-Jacob and Esau) 
Context:  Early Christian artists or calligraphers, borrowed and developed the decorative forms of calligraphy from the Romans, Greeks and sacred books of the Jewish Torah, in order to decorate and honor the words of the Old and New Testaments. 
Since Jews and Christians share in many of the ideas expressed in the Old Testament, one of the concepts they share is the second commandment which forbids the creation of graven images.  Early Jews and Christians took this commandment quite literally and did not create any such sculptures or images.  The rational was that image making could lead to idolatry.  Some Jewish groups and Christians felt that the word graven indicated a ban on sculptural images but both graphic ones.  Christians were split over this decision but came on a comprise in which images were useful because they instructed. This controversy is called the iconoclastic controversy (see Stokstad "Iconoclasm" page 309).  This may account for the deliberate stylizations and lack of naturalism of the figures that is similar to the relief sculptures on the Arch of Constantine.

Virgin and Child with Saints and Angel
icon second half of 6th century
Encaustic on wood, 27x18"
Monastery of Saint Catherine,
Mount Sinai, Egypt
Form:  This encaustic painting (wax and pigments) is symmetrical in its composition.  The painting also combines several styles of painting faces and bodies.  The central figures are painted in a slightly more naturalistic Graeco Roman style while the two figures of Theodore (left) and George (right) are painted in a more Byzantine and codified manner.  There are more tonal transitions on the faces and bodies of the Virgin and Jesus and that the anatomy is revealed more by the drapery than in the flanking figures. Iconography:  The symmetry of the composition places the most important figures at the center.  Icons like this begin the tradition of creating the symbolic system in which Mary serves as the throne of God referred to by Stokstad as an intercessor and the Throne of Wisdom.  The halos each wears are derived from the ideas of enlightenment they represent.  A halo is a graphic representation of the light or aura of wisdom or knowledge that sacred individuals exhibit.  The halos are often differentiated almost as if to give a rank.  For example, Jesus' halo is inscribed with a Greek cross.  Her clothing is both Jewish and eastern in style which precedes the invention of the Muslim Hijab but looks very much like it.  The clothing, organization of the composition and use of halos sets the standard for costuming and depictions of Mary and Jesus well into the Renaissance.  The two flanking figures are idealized types and one would have to be told how to identify them to know who they are.  Nevertheless, their attributions as Theodore (left) and George (right) are the warrior saints who slew serpents similar to the one that Adam and Eve were tricked by.
Context:  Not many icons exist from this period mainly because of the iconoclastic controversy.  (see Stokstad "Iconoclasm" page 309)

 
 
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style












Form: This central plan structure has an octagonal shape and two levels.  The arches walls and floors are all covered with ornate and intricate Byzantine style mosaic and tile work.  Arches and some vaulting are used and the center even has a dome, which from the exterior looks like an octagons full of windows that flood the interior with light. Eight large piers alternate with columned niches to define precisely the central space and to create a many layered design.  Nevertheless, the technology used to construct San Vitale is not quite as advanced as Hagia Sophia although the walls were lightened by the use of hollow pots in its interior. Iconography:  San Vitale reflects Byzantine influence and technological creativity. St. Vitale is the major Justinian monument in the West. It was probably built as a testament to the power of Orthodoxy in the declining kingdom of the Ostrogoths. He tries to establish a place where there are severe Christian Churches (people were forced to convert to Christianity). 
Context:  On the second level of the ambulatory, is a special gallery reserved for women. This was a typical custom of Jewish religious worship. The reason for this, was to segregate the males from the females in order for them to pray with greater devotion. 
For more details of  San Vitale go here.

 
Emperor Justinian and his Attendants
mosaic on north wall of the apse
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Empress Theodora and Her Attendants.
mosaic on south wall of the apse
Church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Form:  The interior of St. Vitale, is similar to the Pantheon and Hagia Sophia.  The design includes an enormous amount of different colored marble and all the other surfaces are decorated with mosaic or tile.  The ornamentation in the church's interior looks Islamic or Arabic although it predates Islam.  The figures are stylized in a typical Byzantine mode.  The heads are too large and the bodies are covered completely with drapery that does not reveal the anatomy beneath.   It also shares some elements from the Arch of Constantine, the heads are big and there's no Contrapposto (liberal movement in figures).  The facial anatomy is stylized.  The face is also elongated and the nose meets the bridge of the brows and the eyebrows actually go directly into the nose.  These are some of the elements that become standardized in Byzantine Manuscript.
Stokstad discusses the reverse perspective of the image which basically is a denial of the illusionistic systems of Roman art that are apparent in the mosaics and frescoes of Pompeii.
Iconography:  Both the empress's and emperor's mosaics face one another across the apse and each holds one component of the eucharist.  Justinian holds the tray and the wafer which symbolizes the body of Christ.  In his twelve companions, which are roughly the equivalent to Jesus' twelve apostles, the emperor also has two symbols of the power he holds: on the earth he has his army to support him at his right hand.  Notice they have the implied mandate of the power of Constantine because of the chi ro on their shield.  (Here's what a chi ro is)
Chi-Rho n, pl Chi-Rhos [chi + rho] (1868): a Christian monogram and symbol formed from the first two letters X and P of the Greek word for Christ--called also Christogram  What is Chi Ro? Chi Ro, pronounced (KI ROW), is probably the oldest monogram used for the name of Christ. It was found written along the walls of the catacombs, which were the cemeteries of the early Christians and also a place where they held their secret meetings. The Chi and Ro are the first two letters in the Greek word for Christ. Our CH was one letter in Greek and was shaped like our X. The Greek R had the shape of our P. By combining the RO or P to one arm of the Chi we get XP. As a pre- Christian symbol, the Chi Ro signified good fortune. The Chi Ro became an important Christian symbol when adopted by the Roman Emperor Constantine, representing the first two letters in the name Christ. According to Church Father Eusebius, on the eve of the Battle of Milvan Bridge, the Emperor saw the emblem in a dream, with the inscription "With this symbol, you shall conquer." According to the story, the battle was won. In return for the victory, Constantine erected Christian Churches. The symbol was the standard of the Emperor's army, prominently displayed on the Emperor's labarum, or battle standard. 
For his spiritual power he has the members of the clergy on his left.  Directly to his left is the archbishop Maximus whose face is almost as defined and unique as Justinian's.  Theodora is surrounded by her ladies in waiting and the local clergy as well and Theodora holds the wine which symbolizes the blood of christ.  On her gown is an image of the three Magi carrying their gift to the newborn Jesus.  Both are wearing royal purple and both are placed at the center of the image.  The placement and the icons they carry and wear were meant to communicate to the viewer that the emperor and empress were the church and the only path to salvation.  This links theological and political power as a single theocratic unit.
Context:  (Stokstad gives a much more detailed discussion of the iconography in the Byzantine chapter.)
For more details of  San Vitale go here.
 
 
 

Capital, Church of San Vitale, 
Ravenna, Italy 526-47 CE
Byzantine Style
Form:  This capital at first appears to be an almost Tuscan or Doric capital but on closer inspection it is the correction of the original Greek and Roman orders.  Between the arch and the capital is an additional structure called an impost block.  The designs on the capital are much more ornate and less solid looking then its predecessors and combines carving, polychroming and mosaic.  The over all intricate organic patterning and weaving of the ornamentation is abstract and overly ornate.  Iconography:  The organic vine like qualities refer to the symbol of Christianity as a vine that keeps spreading.   In the center of the column's capital and impost block are cruciform symbols.  Notice on the capital, the Greek cross formed of four circles that looks like the domed greek cross plan discussed on page 324 The Elements of Architecture, Multiple-Dome Church Plans.  The use of classical ornamentation and then the obvious changing of it is symbolic of the fusion of the Roman and Greek classic ideals wedded to the culture and decorative forms of the east as well as the iconography of Christianity.
 
 

Mosaic of Christ from the 
Archepiscopal Palace in Ravenna
late 6th Century This image of Christ from San Vitale demonstrates a shift
in Christian thought.  If you look at how Jesus is depicted 
and how this passage relates to the Psalm at right you may 
notice that Jesus is now a Christian soldier and defender.
This relates somewhat to the politics that govern the 
interaction of Christianity with Islam in Byzantium almost 
a century later.
PSALM 91, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling --
even the Lord, who is my refuge --
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
(sometimes worded: 
You shall tread upon the asp and the viper, 
trample the lion and the dragon.)
"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

 

S. Gall Benedictine Abbey, St. Gall Switzerland 7th-8th C
The Monastic System fulfilled the needs and took care of the people. It educated the Lords and the Serfs. The Monks kept the world going by praying, and they were very intelligent. The Monk Monasteries were like Universities, they were a place to learn spiritual renewal and a place to pray. They would also copy the Bible and make manuscript. They preserved some of the text that would have otherwise been burned. In the Monastery the servants slept next to the livestock. There was a big church at the entrance with statues of Gabriel and Michael (Archangels). The Monastery also included a hospice for the poor (a free clinic) where a medieval physician would bleed you. There was also a physicians house. There were breweries and bakeries etc. next to the kitchen. There was a caretakers house and a cemetery. In the middle there was a cloister, a courtyard where you go to reflect on the life of God. There was also a guest house and a school. There was a novitiate house (convent for the novices) for people who were thinking of becoming Monks and Nuns.
 Stokstad 497-502
Political and Theological Systems 570 or 580 AD- Pope Gregory comes to power. Everyone is worried because they are moving to a new century. He tries to save as many souls as possible. Some of the things that Pope Gregory does is to codify or systematize worship and the liturgy of the church. One such system was Gregorian Chant.
Gregorian Chant : all sing together (monophonic)
Why was chant invented? It passed on Catholic beliefs in an oral tradition and it helped people remember the words. Gregorian chant started with Pope Gregory -ceremonial from the Jewish temple Gothic cathedral and Gregorian chant-echo (overtones and undertones)
The next passage is quoted directly from the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
Gregorian chant, monophonic, or unison, liturgical music of the Roman Catholic Church, used to accompany the text of the mass and the canonical hours, or divine office. Gregorian chant is named after St. Gregory I the Great, pope from 590 to 604. It was collected and codified during his reign. Charlemagne, king of the Franks (768-814), imposed Gregorian chant on his kingdom, where another liturgical tradition--the Gallican chant--was in common use. During the 8th and 9th centuries, a process of assimilation took place between Gallican and Gregorian chants; and it is the chant in this evolved form that has come down to the present.
The Ordinary of the mass includes those texts that remain the same for each mass. The chant of the Kyrie ranges from neumatic (patterns of one to four notes per syllable) to melismatic (unlimited notes per syllable) styles. The Gloria appeared in the 7th century. The psalmodic recitation, i.e., using salm tones, simple formulas for the intoned reciting of psalms, of early Glorias attests to their ancient origin. Later Gloria chants are neumatic. The melodies of the Credo, accepted into the mass about the 11th century, resemble psalm tones. The Sanctus and Benedictus are probably from apostolic times. The usual Sanctus chants are neumatic. The Agnus Dei was brought into the Latin mass from the Eastern Church in the 7th century and is basically in neumatic style. The concluding Ite Missa Est and its substitute Benedicamus Domino usually use the melody of the opening Kyrie.
The Proper of the mass is composed of texts that vary for each mass in order to bring out the significance of each feast or season. The Introit is a processional chant that was originally a psalm with a refrain sung between verses. By the 9th century it had received its present form: refrain in a neumatic style--a psalm verse in psalm-tone style--refrain repeated. The Gradual, introduced in the 4th century, also developed from a refrain between psalm verses. Later it became: opening melody (chorus)--psalm verse or verses in a virtuosically embellished psalmodic structure (soloist)--opening melody (chorus), repeated in whole or in part. The Alleluia is of 4th-century Eastern origin. Its structure is somewhat like that of the Gradual. The Tract replaces the Alleluia in penitential times. This chant is a descendant of synagogue music.
The sequence flourished primarily from about the 9th century to the 16th. In its modern form the texts are sacred poems with double-line stanzas having the same accentuation and number of syllables for each two lines. The melody of the first line was repeated for the second line of then stanza, a new melody being given to the next stanza; the music is syllabic. The Offertory originally consisted of a psalm and refrain, but by the 12th century only the refrain remained. The music is quite melismatic. Peculiar to the Offertory is repetition of text. The Communion is, like the Offertory, a processional chant. The music is neumatic in style.
The canonical hours consist of eight prayer services: Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline. Each includes antiphons or refrains, short texts that precede or follow each psalm and are set mostly in syllabic chant; psalms, with each set to a psalm tone; hymns, usually metrical and in strophes or stanzas, and set in a neumatic style; responsories, which follow the lessons of Matins and the chapter, a brief lesson of the other hours, and have the form response- salm verse-partially or entirely repeated response. The responsory is related to the form and style of the Gradual.
Encyclopaedia Britannica,
St. Augustine-theologen who wrote about man's relationship with God system to understand philosophical structure-spiritual world and physical world are tied together.
Greek Orthodox Church exists in Constantinople and the Roman Catholic Church lives in Rome, Italy. Everybody believes in the ten commandments, that Jesus has come to save them and that he died for our sins. This is a theology everybody has come to accept, except for the Jews and Islamics. The beginning of some of the problems that they have is that they start reading different doctrine and different ways of worshiping into that and that changes what people think. In the Greek Orthodox church they speak Latin, only because it's a trade language.
Feudalism- Starts at almost 600-700 A.D. Feudalism was a system of military service and land ownership that created a pyramid of political and military power. Feudalism is a system of government in which the minority rules the majority. For every Lord there are 60 to 70 Serfs. It called for support mostly from the church and included mainly little kingdoms run by Landlords-kings. It did not rely on one single dictator or person to run the empire. During or about this time Monasteries were also built . They served as universities, hospitals, library, training schools for future monks, public shelter, and many other purposed. These same monasteries also were responsible for preserving many important documents that are so vital in today's history. If it weren't for them we may have not seen many of the documents that have provided us with many important information about history.
In around 500-600 AD there was a breakdown in the pre-established Roman order which had dominated Europe and the Near East.  Feudalism came to the fore and cities, as we know them, disappeared.  The Church at this time became the central repository of classical knowledge.
When Charlemagne, in the late 700 to early 800's attempted to centralize the "Holy Roman Empire," the churches he built also served as a kind of palace/throne room.  The architecture of these structures is not as sophisticated or ornamented as earlier basilica.
Another great achievement of the middle ages was the rise monasticism.  The monastery was almost a great fortress of information.  Scribes and scholars housed in monasteries were basically responsible for transcribing and storing the information of classical antiquity and later philosophers and theologians.
 
 
One of the main products or art forms the monks produced was the illuminated manuscript.