Early Christian and Medieval period 200 to1250 3

Eastern types and elements were being introduced through Byzantium. Oriental ornamentation, gold embossing, rich color were doing away with form, perspective, light-andshade, and background.
The color was rich and the mechanical workmanship fair for the time, but the figure had become paralytic. It shrouded itself in a sack-like brocaded gown, had no feet at times, and instead of standing on the ground hung in the air. Facial expression ran to contorted features, holiness became moroseness, and sadness sulkiness. The flesh was brown, the shadows green-tinted, giving an unhealthy look


to the faces. Add to this the gold ground (a Persian inheritance), the gilded high lights; the absence of perspective, and the composing of groups so that the figures looked piled one upon another instead of receding, and we have the style of painting that prevailed in Byzantium and Italy from about the ninth to the thirteenth century. Nothing of a technical nature was in its favor except the rich coloring and the mechanical adroitness of the fitting.

EARLY CHRISTIAN PAINTING: The earliest Christian painting appeared on the walls of the Catacombs in Rome. These were decorated with panels and within the panels were representations of trailing vines, leaves, fruits, flowers, with birds and little genii or cupids. It was painting similar to the Roman work, and had no Christian significance though in a Christian place. Not long after, however, the desire to express something of the faith began to show itself in a symbolic way. The cups and the vases became marked with the fish, because the Greek spelling of the word " icthus "gave the initials of the Christian confession of faith. The paintings of the shepherd bearing a sheep symbolized Christ and his flock ; the anchor meant the Christian hope ; the phoenix immortality ; the ship the Church ; the cock watchfulness, and so on. And at this time the decorations began to have a double meaning. The vine came to represent the " I am the vine " and the birds grew longer wings and became doves, symbolizing pure Christian souls.
It has been said this form of art came about through fear of persecution, that the Christians hid their ideas in symbols because open representation would be followed by violence and desecration. Such was hardly the case. The emperors persecuted the living, but the dead and their sepulchres were exempt from sacrilege by Roman law. They probably used the symbol because they feared the Roman figure and knew no other form to take its place. But symbolism did not supply the popular need ; it was impossible to originate an entirely new figure ; so the painters went back and borrowed the old Roman form. Christ appeared as a beardless youth in Phrygian costume, the Virgin Mary was a Roman matron, and the Apostles looked like Roman senators wearing the toga.
Classic story was also borrowed to illustrate Bible truth. Hermes carrying the sheep was the Good Shepherd, Psyche discovering Cupid was the curiosity of Eve, Ulysses closing his ears to the Sirens was the Christian resisting the tempter. The pagan Orpheus charming the animals of the wood was finally adopted as a symbol, or perhaps an ideal


likeness of Christ. Then followed more direct representation in classic form and manner, the Old Testament prefiguring and emphasizing the New. Jonah appeared cast into the sea and cast by the whale on dry land again as a symbol of the New Testament resurrection, and also as a representation of the actual occurrence
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