Byzantine Art: The Transfiguration of Christ Mosaic in Saint Catherine's Monastery

Topics: Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Constantinople Pages: 4 (1393 words) Published: April 6, 2006
Early Christian art was highly influenced by religious, political, and cultural changes. In contrast to the classical, idealistic portrayal of man, Early Christian art took a much more stylized approach to the depiction of man, with a neglected attention to human anatomy. The subject matter of much of the art turned from secular to religious; Christianity to be more specific. Constantine was the last emperor of the Roman Empire to hold undivided power. Under his rule, Constantine created the Edict of Milan, granting religious tolerance to all religions. This was of particular importance to Christians, who had been previously persecuted due to their spiritual beliefs. Because of the Edict of Milan, many Christian buildings were erected in addition to the many secular buildings that were transformed into Christian buildings. These buildings housed countless numbers of priceless religious artworks. One such example is the Transfiguration of Christ mosaic located in Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai, Egypt.

When Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople (modern day Istanbul), the Empire separated. Upon the division of the Roman Empire, Justinian, The Last Roman Emperor, held power over the Eastern Roman Empire from 527 to 565. Justinian was both a political and religious leader. Under his reign, many Christian buildings were constructed. Justinian often associated himself with Jesus Christ in the Byzantine artworks that these Christian buildings housed as a form of propaganda. The Orthodox Church now recognizes Justinian as a saint.

Byzantine is a term used to describe eastern Mediterranean art from 330 to 1453, when the Turks conquered Constantinople (Strickland, 1992, p. 24). Mosaics were one of the most common forms of art during this period. They were intended to publicize the Christian creed through their religious subject matter (Strickland, 1992, p. 25). Byzantine mosaics are composed of small,...
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