Medieval art

Medieval Art is the art, including architecture, produced in Europe from the fall of the western Roman Empire in approximately 500 CE to start of the early modern period in approximately 1500 CE. Although most extant medieval art and architecture is religious, one must beware in assuming that the church was sole patron of art in the medieval period. Much of the religious art of the period in fact was commissioned by secular powers, and some secular art survives from throughout the period.

Medieval artists depended, in varying degrees, upon artistic heritage of the Roman Empire and upon the legacy of the early Christian church. These sources were mixed with the vigorous "Barbarian" artistic culture of Northern Europe to produce a remarkable artistic legacy. Indeed the history of medieval art can be seen as the history of the interplay between the elements of classical, early Christian art, "Barbarian" art.

Table of contents
1 Classical Legacy and Early Christian Art
2 Barbarian Art
3 Hiberno-Saxon Art
4 Byzantine Art
5 Merovingian Art
6 Carolingian Renaissance
7 Ottonian Art
8 Mozarabic Art
9 Romanesque Art
10 Gothic Art
11 Late Medieval Art

Classical Legacy and Early Christian Art

Christianity developed in the Roman Empire and, accordingly, early Christian art was strongly influenced by classical art in form, style and content. Almost nothing is known about the art of the first two centuries after death of Jesus. The earliest Christian art is funerary art especially in the wall paintings in the Roman catacombs and on several carved sarcophagi. Until the conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Milan, Christians had few public buildings. Services were held in 'house churches" such as that found at Dura-Europos.

After the Edict of Milan Christians were free to build larger, more public buildings, and indeed received Imperial patronage for a lavish building program. The Christians adopted the Roman basilica to their needs. Several large basilicas were built in the 4th and 5th centuries, including Old St. Peters and others.

Early Christians used the same artistic media as the surrounding pagan culture. These media include fresco, mosaics, sculpture, and manuscript illumination. They also adapted secular Roman architectural forms, especially the basilica, to ecclesiastical purposes.

Early Christian art not only uses Roman forms, it also used Roman styles. Late classical style included a proportional portrayal of the human body and impressionistic presentation of space. Late classical style is seen in early Christian frescos, such as those in the catacombs of Rome.

Early Christians adapted Roman motifs and gave new meanings to what had been pagan symbols. Among the motifs adopted were the peacock, grapevines, and the good shepherd. Early Christians also developed their own iconography. Some symbols such as the fish were not borrowed from pagan iconography.

Barbarian Art

Hiberno-Saxon Art

Byzantine Art

Merovingian Art

Carolingian Renaissance

Ottonian Art

Mozarabic Art

Romanesque Art

Gothic Art

Late Medieval Art

List of Late Antique, Early Christian and Medieval art monuments




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