Art in Late Antiquity is a huge general topic that can be divided. Luckily for you we have prepared a few sample subtopics for your next essay. Consider the 20 samples below:
The early Christian images found dating from the Late Antiquity period displays many important characteristics which account for historical and religious changes of the time. Originally, there was the Emperor Diocletian who ruled over the then-Roman empire. During this rule, the empire was cut into four administrative units each of which were governed by a tetrarch. The tetrarchs can be observed in famous sculptures from this period, which came before the Late Antiquity period around 305 A.D. This sculpture shows all four together, looking decidedly similar, the impact of which was meant to show that there was unity and stability in the four governing units. Emperor Diocletian’s rule began to break as Constantine was able to defeat the former tetrarch Maxentius during the Battle of the Milvian Bridge.
After his victory, Constantine assumed the position of ruler and began to implement many changes including the promotion of the new religion: Christianity. In part because of this new religion and because of his triumph in battle he had the Church of St. Peter constructed in honor of the victory. The new church was an architectural masterpiece, one which brought about many new elements not only of this new religion but of this new rule. While the church would have been considered a temple by the Romans and the architecture used for it were typical of Roman public buildings, it was given the name “basilica” to honor the many new traits it embodied. Other churches which remain today as an example of the architecture and artwork from this era include the Basilica of Constantine located in Trier in Germany. This building has the famous clerestory, the sunken ceiling panels, the lunette, the apse, and the ambulatory all associated with the Late Antiquity period.
Some of the new traits included the representation of the new religious leader: Jesus Christ. His earliest artistic depicture is that of the Good Shephard, something which can be viewed in the basilica, and other buildings constructed during this time. The church also boasted an altar located in alignment with the east. At the end of the later was the apse. There existed an ambulatory which was the passageway which surrounded the altar of a church. The overarching structure relied upon the axially planned church and featured third level windows called clerestories and the sunken panels inside of the ceiling. Over the doorway leading to the entrance of the church were lunettes, or, a crescent-shaped space, inside of which paintings or sculptures were held. Outside of the church was the atrium, or courtyard where more artistic displays were found. The artwork commissioned during this time reflected upon the new gospels which were used by the new religion. During this time people used the first four books, or Gospels. These books were written by the Four Evangelists who are all portrayed in a great deal of art from the time as different celestial animals. Eagles were used to construe both Matthew and John. Mark was painted as a lion. Luke was portrayed as a bull.
Changes with relation to how the dead were handled also took place, and were another way for artistic displays to find prominence. During this rule, catacombs, or underground network of passages in which to bury the dead. Inside of the catacombs were paintings across the walls and ceilings all of which showed pictures of salvation. These paintings covered the cubicula’s which were small rooms known as mortuary chapels as well as the loculi were the openings in the walls. The mausoleums were another type of building intended to memorialize the dead and show simultaneously how unimportant the physical body was by incorporating the bodies into the ceremonies. This can be viewed in many artistic pieces found here including the Ravenna in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia where it remains today. This piece is found on the lunette and dates to between 425 and 500 A.D.
As a leader Constantine is featured alongside the purple colors in many pieces of art. The Porphyry stone was purple, and it was reserved for the emperors. It is for this reason that the artwork consisting of leadership or rulers from the time have purple hues. Additionally, Constantine sought to bring a message with his rule and did so by having sculptures of himself made. One such remaining example is the colossal head of Constantine, which came from the Late Antiquity period and is dated to between 310 and 330 A.D. His head is like many statues of Constantine which were designed with a message: the open and unblinking eyes were meant to tell his people that he was always watching.
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