Given its theocratic nature, it is perhaps not surprising that Byzantine culture is more noted for its icons than its murals. First appearing during the early 4th century, these small-scale devotional diptych panel paintings (sometimes called "travelling icons") of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, or Saints, proved hugely popular. Church screens (iconostases) were filled with them, as were private homes. After the victory of the pro-figurative Iconodules over the Iconoclasts in 842, the production of icons increased dramatically, and the techniques of icon painting spread to Greece and Russia, notably to Kiev, Novgorod and Moscow. Famous examples of Byzantine icon paintings include: The Virgin Hodegetria (mid 5th century, Hodegon Monastery, Constantinople: now lost); St Peter (c.550, Monastery of St Catherine, Mount Sinai); St Michael (c.950-1000, Tesoro di San Marco, Venice); the Holy Virgin of Vladimir (c.1131, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow); Madonna of Don Icon (c.1380, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow) by Theophanes the Greek, founder of the Novgorod school of icon-painting (c.1100-1500); and Mother of God Hodigitria (1502-3) by Dionysius, an early master of the Moscow School of painting (c.1500-1700). Christian Wall Art
“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
Baroque architecture abandoned the balanced symmetry of Renaissance designs in favour of dramatic curved lines and surfaces that combined art and architecture into one dynamic entity, creating illusionary effects of light, colour and texture. Baroque churches were characterized by a combination of domes, decorated chapels, fresco quadratura, and other embellishments, as exemplified by these four structures. Christian Canvas Art
Spain is the only European state to have emerged from a religious struggle between Christianity and Islam (Muslim rule over most of the Iberian peninsula lasted 718-1492). Not surprisingly therefore, the school of Spanish Painting produced a form of Christian art which was consistent with the country's uncompromising devotion to the Catholic cause. Its greatest exponent was Domenikos Theotokopoulos, called El Greco. After training in Byzantine icon painting he worked in Venice before making his home in Spain. Here he created a series of ecstatic portraits of Christ and the Saints, whose intensity of expression appealed directly to the spiritual feelings of the spectator. These powerful holy paintings, with their elongated figures, distorted perspective and non-natural colour schemes made El Greco the father of Counter-Reformation art in Spain. His most famous Catholic paintings include: The Trinity (1577-9); The Disrobing of Christ (1579); The Burial of Count Orgaz (1586); Christ driving the Traders from the Temple (1600); the Resurrection (1600), and The Opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse (1608). Although they had none of Caravaggio's naturalism, these pictures were spiritual masterpieces, and thus wholly in line with the doctrinal requirements of the Vatican.
The spiritual intensity achieved by Spanish painters was also seen in the works of Spanish sculptors, such as Alonso Berruguete (c.1486-1561) the greatest of all Renaissance sculptors in Spain, whose masterpieces include: the altarpiece for the monastery of La Mejorada Valladolid (1526), and the choir stalls in Toledo Cathedral (1539-43); Juan de Juni (1507-1577), noted for his emotive expressiveness, as in his two groups of the Entombment of Christ (1544 and 1571). Juan Martinez Montanes (the "God of Wood"), famous for his wooden crucifixes and religious figures, like The Merciful Christ (1603) and the Santiponce Altarpiece (1613); and Alonso Cano (the "Spanish Michelangelo"), whose masterwork is The Immaculate Conception (1655). Christian Wall Art
Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes.” The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt. Then my God put it into my heart to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it: ...
"The house which I am about to build will be great, for greater is our God than all the gods. "But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him? So who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to burn incense before Him? "Now send me a skilled man to work in gold, silver, brass and iron, and in purple, crimson and violet fabrics, and who knows how to make engravings, to work with the skilled men whom I have in Judah and Jerusalem, whom David my father provided. Christian Gifts
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Since its beginnings during the first century of the Roman Empire, Christianity has spread around the world to become the principal religion, value-system, and social agenda of mankind: at least until the 20th century. Run first by Christ and the Apostles, it gradually gave birth to its own hierarchical organization, the Christian Church, which over time became the largest and most influential patron of the arts. Indeed, from the outset, the Christian Church used many different types of art in order to create an identity for itself, increase its power and thus attract worshippers. In the process it developed its own Christian iconography, relying heavily on architecture (cathedrals, churches, monasteries), sculpture (statues of the Holy Family, as well as prophets, apostles, saints), painting (altarpieces, church murals), decorative art (stained glass, mosaics) and illuminated manuscripts (Gospels, psalters). In fact, during the early 16th century, the Church commissioned so much Biblical art - using money raised through higher taxes, and the 'sale' of benefices and indulgences - that it led to widespread protests: protests that coalesced into the Reformation, and the division of the Church into Roman Catholic and Protestant. Even so, one can say that, in the West at least, the history of art is the history of Christian art.
Towards the end of the Gothic era, there emerged a rich style of art, among the royal courts of Europe, that acted as a kind of bridge between Gothic and Renaissance culture. Known as International Gothic (c.1375-1450), this style was exemplified by a range of Christian illuminations which reached their peak in works like Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1416) by the Limbourg Brothers (all died of plague, 1416); the Hours of the Marechal de Boucicaut, by Jacquemart de Hesdin (c.1355-1414), and The Missal of Jean des Martins by Enguerrand de Charenton (Quarton) (c.1410-1466).
Protestant aesthetics achieved a highpoint during the Dutch Baroque era (c.1600-80). This period, known as the Golden Age of Dutch art, witnessed the ultimate development of the realist style adopted earlier by Flemish painters. Although portraits and landscapes were also popular, the period is best known as the high point of Dutch Realist genre painting, and what is known as still life painting (arranged tableaux). Leading genre painters of the Protestant Reformation came from a variety of schools. Adriaen van Ostade and the Catholic artist Jan Steen represented the Haarlem school; Jan Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch represented the Delft school; Hendrik Terbrugghen and Gerrit van Honthorst belonged to the Utrecht school; Gerrit Dou represented the Leiden school; Samuel van Hoogstraten and Nicolaes Maes were members of the Dordrecht school; and Carel Fabritius, Gerard Terborch, and Gabriel Metsu belonged to the Amsterdam school. Christian Canvas Art
The Orthodox Church of Constantinople, which enjoyed greater stability within the surviving Eastern Empire was key in commissioning imagery there and glorifying Christianity. As a stable Western European society emerged during the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church led the way in terms of art, using its resources to commission paintings and sculptures.
Ravenna remains the best single source of surviving mosaics. These include: Christ as the Good Shepherd mosaic (450, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia); the Baptism of Christ mosaic (6th century, Arian Baptistery); the Queen Theodora mosaic (547, Basilica San Vitale); Christ Before Pontius Pilate mosaic (550, Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, Classe). In Istanbul, see the floor mosaics (400-550) at the Imperial Palace; the South Gallery mosaics (c.1260) in Hagia Sophia; and the Dormition of Mary mosaic (1310, Church of the Chora Monastery). Elsewhere in the Byzantine Empire, see the mosaics at Hagios Demetrios (650) in Saloniki; and the outstanding early 12th century apse mosaics in Torcello Cathedral, Venice.
Probably the most spectacular form of Christian painting was the church ceiling mural painting (called quadratura), often executed with trompe l'oeil illusionist effects. This decoration of vaulted/domed ceilings of churches began during the Renaissance in Italy. Renaissance examples included: the Sala delle Prospettive fresco (c.1517, Villa Farnesina) by Baldessare Peruzzi; and the Assumption of the Virgin (1524-30) by Correggio, which decorated the domed ceiling of Parma Cathedral. Christian Wall Art
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter's hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: ... Christian Wall Art