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Lecture

VISA 1Q99 Lecture Notes - Early Christian Art And Architecture, Dura-Europos, Santa Costanza


Department
Visual Arts
Course Code
VISA 1Q99
Professor
Kristin Patterson

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Christianity grew as a religion after Constantine’s rule. Romans tended to separate
ethics from religion. Christianity and Judaism believed in encompassing ethics and
religion together.
Jewish Art:
Synagogue at Dura Europas, interior west wall, c. 244-45 CE: This was destroyed. The
second temple was destroyed by Titus and commemorated in the arch of Titus. Unique
synagogue due to the images. You could portray stories about the old testament or
Torah. Some of the figures are identified with Greek inscriptions. Three levels of
painting. In the center there is the Torah in each in the form of a scroll. The people
would gather to read the Torah. This would have been an upper class style in the view of
many. Very little 3D, or depth to this work. These are religious stories, not everyday life.
Moses giving water to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Dura Europas, c. 245 CE: An outline
or schema of what is taking place. Common to pick a moment in a story that would act
as a remembrance. Moses is represented in the center. Figures around Moses stand
with their arms up (this represents giving or receiving, symbolizing their devotion).
Moses gives water to the 12 tribes during a drought. Wears a Roman toga, has a
bearded appearance. In 249 a new emperor took power, this emperor forced all people
to make sacrifices to the Roman empire so they could achieve greatness again.
Christians did not agree with this, but were persecuted if they did not give to the Roman
gods.
Early Christian Art:
Priscilla Catacombs, Rome: Underground tombs or rooms. Niches that are cut out of
rock that would have contained the Christian dead. Located on the outskirts of Rome.
Earliest examples of Christian art. Chambers were made for well to do families. They
would own entire rooms. The cross meant a number of things. Crucifixes were not seen
until much later.
Chi-Rho Monogram detail from sarcophagus, c.340 CE: Very important symbol of the
presence of Christ. The fish symbol was also very important, used to determine friends
from foe.
Cubiculum of Leonis, Catacomb of Commodilla, near Rome, Late 4th century: Many of
the early paintings can be interpreted in a number of ways. A lot of the artists hired
would have been recently converted to Christianity, they were coming up with a new
type of art. The early representations of Christ had him clean shaven, youthful,
sometimes carrying a book. Meant to represented the bounty and fertility that came from
Christianity. On the left in the corner there is a depiction of St. Peter, who wants to
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