With the fall of Rome and the disintegration of the Roman Empire, Western Europe entered the Dark Ages (400-800), a period of political uncertainty and cultural stagnation. The only possible unifying force was Christianity, but with Rome sacked and the Roman Church under pressure, its influence was limited. Only in Ireland, a country cut off from the European mainland, did Christianity flourish. In fact, Irish Monastic art and culture was critical in keeping alive the ideas of classical antiquity, as well as the message of the Bible. Early Medieval art in Ireland was dominated by the making of illuminated manuscripts, notably the Cathach of St. Columba (c.610), the Book of Durrow (c.650-80), the Lichfield Gospels (c.730), the Echternach Gospels (690-715), the Lindisfarne Gospels (698) and the stunning Book of Kells (800). Because of the country's ongoing tradition of Celtic art, most Irish manuscript illustrators used abstract Celtic designs, rather than figurative imagery preferred by Continental artists.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. ...
Ephesians 5:25-33: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, ..."
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Only one major innovative example of Christian church architecture was built in Europe during the 19th century - the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (1883), designed in a highly decorative neo-Gothic style by Antoni Gaudi. Celebrating the Holy Family and the mysteries of the Catholic faith, this extraordinary church with its tree-like formation of vaulted structures includes five towers and twelve campaniles. Made of stone and concrete, the building is embellished in parts with ceramic tiles, pompom finials and numerous sculptures, but is still not completely finished. Gaudi himself was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and was associated with the Catalan Modernista school. Christian Wall Art
Only in the New World were significant numbers of new churches erected. The type of architecture chosen was generally revivalist: see, for instance, the neoclassical-style Baltimore Basilica (1806-21), the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States, designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe; the decorated Gothic-style St Patrick's Cathedral, New York (1858-79), designed by James Renwick; Richard Upjohn's Trinity Church, New York (1841-6), another masterpiece of Gothic revivalism; and Trinity Church, Boston (1872-77), designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in a revivalist Romanesque style.
A third type of Christian art which appeared in Ireland during the Middle Ages was High Cross Sculpture (c.750-1150 CE). Consisting of different-sized monuments, all based on the standard design of the Celtic-Cross. Decorated either with abstract patterns or narrative scenes from the bible (rarely both), these monuments constitute the most important set of free-standing sculpture produced between the fall of Rome (c.450) and the start of the Italian Renaissance (c.1400). Christian Wall Art
Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. ... Christian Gifts
Byzantine art, that is the art of the Eastern Orthodox Church - the form of Christianity that emerged in Constantinople (previously called Byzantium, now called Istanbul), headquarters of the Roman Empire in the east - was the first category of Christian art to really blossom. An expression of the theocratic state that it represented, Christian Byzantine art specialized in architecture, mosaic art, mural and icon painting. Byzantine artists also excelled at items of jewellery, goldsmithing and ivories, and produced the earliest illuminated manuscript, or codex.
He also made two capitals of molten bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; the height of the one capital was five cubits and the height of the other capital was five cubits. There were nets of network and twisted threads of chainwork for the capitals which were on the top of the pillars; seven for the one capital and seven for the other capital. So he made the pillars, and two rows around on the one network to cover the capitals which were on the top of the pomegranates; and so he did for the other capital. The capitals which were on the top of the pillars in the porch were of lily design, four cubits. There were capitals on the two pillars, even above and close to the rounded projection which was beside the network; and the pomegranates numbered two hundred in rows around both capitals. Thus he set up the pillars at the porch of the nave; and he set up the right pillar and named it Jachin, and he set up the left pillar and named it Boaz. On the top of the pillars was lily design. So the work of the pillars was finished. Christian Canvas Art
With the fall of Rome and the disintegration of the Roman Empire, Western Europe entered the Dark Ages (400-800), a period of political uncertainty and cultural stagnation. The only possible unifying force was Christianity, but with Rome sacked and the Roman Church under pressure, its influence was limited. Only in Ireland, a country cut off from the European mainland, did Christianity flourish. In fact, Irish Monastic art and culture was critical in keeping alive the ideas of classical antiquity, as well as the message of the Bible. Early Medieval art in Ireland was dominated by the making of illuminated manuscripts, notably the Cathach of St. Columba (c.610), the Book of Durrow (c.650-80), the Lichfield Gospels (c.730), the Echternach Gospels (690-715), the Lindisfarne Gospels (698) and the stunning Book of Kells (800). Because of the country's ongoing tradition of Celtic art, most Irish manuscript illustrators used abstract Celtic designs, rather than figurative imagery preferred by Continental artists. Christian Gifts
In addition, there are numerous expressionist works by the French Catholic painter Georges Rouault, notably his series of The Holy Face, the Crucifixion and Christ Mocked, which make him one of the most important Christian artists of the 20th century. A similar accolade could be bestowed on the Russian fantasy painter Marc Chagall, whose imaginative Jewish art and scenes from the Old Testament were followed later by his series on religious themes - The Bible Message - now on display at the Cimiez Museum, in Nice. Chagall also produced a number of stained-glass designs for the cathedrals of Metz (1968), and Reims (1974), as well as the Hadassah Synagogue near Jerusalem. In addition, he was noted for the tapestry art that he designed for the Knesset. Christian Wall Art
Protestantism taught a low-key, personal form of worship that focused on the direct relationship between God and man, without making a fuss about go-betweens like Popes, Bishops and other church employees. It also placed little or no importance on decorative or ceremonial aspects of religion. Because of all this, Protestant art favoured low-key moralistic depictions of ordinary day-to-day life, or simple narrative scenes from the Bible, rather than dramatic theological scenes involving the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. Other acceptable scenes included depictions of sinners forgiven by Christ, in line with the Protestant view that salvation is only possible through the grace of God. Protestant art also tended to be smaller-scale than Catholic art, reflecting a more modest, personal approach to religion. For the same reason, book illustration and prints became more popular, while Catholic paintings and sculptures became the object of physical iconclastic attacks, as exemplified by the beeldenstorm, an episode of mob destruction which broke out in 1556. But Protestant church authorities were equally aware of the power of art to educate and influence worshippers. As a result they made maximum use of various forms of printmaking, which allowed images to be made widely available to the public at a very low cost.
And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work. He cast two pillars of bronze. Eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured its circumference. It was hollow, and its thickness was four fingers. The second pillar was the same. He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars. The height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. There were lattices of checker work with wreaths of chain work for the capitals on the tops of the pillars, a lattice for the one capital and a lattice for the other capital. ... Christian Wall Art
By the middle of the 18th century, Catholic countries were becoming overstocked with cathedrals, churches, abbeys, monasteries and convents - in the case of certain cities like Naples, almost absurdly so. As a result, ecclesiastical commissions began to dry up. At the same time, with the advent of the 18th century Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and political upheavals like the French Revolution of 1789, the European Christian Church lost ground to nationalism, socialism and other value systems. What's more, it raised less money to spend on religious statues or other forms of church art. By the 19th century, the Church was less important as a patron of the arts than kings and noblemen, while the middle class demand for portraits, topographical landscapes and other secular works, was increasing rapidly. Painters could enjoy a prosperous career simply by focusing on portrait art, or various types of landscape painting, without ever painting a religious subject - something hitherto unknown in Catholic countries, though long regarded as normal in Protestant ones. Christian Canvas Art
Late Gothic sculptors, based in Germany during the 15th and early 16th century, produced a burst of exquisite Christian wood-carving in a series of spectacular triptych altarpieces, never since equalled. Noted for the emotion of their expressionist figures, These master carvers included Michael Pacher (1435-98), Veit Stoss (c.1447-1533), Tilman Riemenschneider (c.1460-1531) and Gregor Erhart (c.1460-1540). See: German Gothic Art (c.1200-1450).
In the West, the Renaissance saw an increase in monumental secular works, but until the Protestant Reformation Christian art continued to be commissioned in great quantities by churches, clergy and by the aristocracy. The Reformation had a huge effect on Christian art, rapidly bringing the production of public Christian art to a virtual halt in Protestant countries, and causing the destruction of most of the art that already existed. Christian Gifts
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