Art History Chapters

  1. Introduction to Western Art History
  2. Art in the Ancient Middle East to 400 B.C.
  3. Art of the Hebrews and Jews, 2000 B.C. to A.D. 135
  4. Art of the Ancient Greeks, 1200 B.C. to A.D. 146
  5. Art of the Romans, 753 B.C. to A.D. 300
  6. Christian Art in the Roman Empire, 4 B.C. to A.D. 1453
  7. Art in the Early Middle Ages, A.D. 500 to 1000
  8. Art in the High and Later Middle Ages, 1000 to 1500
  9. Art of the Renaissance, 1400 to 1648
  10. Art in Early Modern Europe, 1543 to 1815
  11. Art during the Industrial Revolution, 1764 to 1914
  12. Art in the Age of Imperialism and Nationalism, 1810 to 1918
  13. Art during the InterWar Years and World War II, 1917 to 1945
  14. Art during the Early Cold War, 1945 to 1980
  15. Art during the Contemporary Era, 1980 to the Present
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Art History for Chapter 6:

The Revolutionary Rabbi: Christianity, the Roman Empire, and Islam, 4 B.C. to A.D. 1453


Many art historians feel that the late Roman Empire saw some slippage in artistic quality. Just as the politicians ran out of creative solutions, so did artists, who often settled for borrowing from their predecessors (literally as they sometimes broke off sculptures from an older site to use in a newer one, such as in the constantine constantine Arch of Constantine.

Early Christian Art began in a small way, since the Christians were a persecuted minority. After their legalization by Constantine more art became oriented to the needs and desires of the Christians.


Painting/Graphic Arts

The earliest fragments of Christian art portray Jesus as a classical hero, young, strong, and beardless. Only with the rise of imperial Christianity does he become the bearded and long-haired figure with European features most commonly done today.



Simple crosses were the first form of sculpture for Christians. More decorative statues (including the crucifix which portrayed a suffering Christ on the cross) would only be made in the Middle Ages.



Catacombs, where Christians were allowed to bury their dead, became the first sites of Christian art. As the empire fell apart, a last gasp of a united Rome under Justinian resulted in several new churches in Ravenna, northern Italy. They were built with pristine clean lines, proportions and walls and domes. And their decoration with beautiful mosaics of sparkling glass preserved the power and theology of the fading civilized Rome. While the Byzantine Empire with its capital in Constantinople survived for a thousand years, Westerners found little interested in its art (although they plundered a great deal in the Fourth Crusade of 1204).

hagiasophia Justinian's Hagia Sophia, The Church of Holy Wisdom, rose over Constantinople at the emperor's command.



Last Updated: 17 January 2017