2018HSSL_FlipBooks

2018_FlipBook_Getlein_LivingWithArt_12e

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T H E R I S E O F C H R I S T I A N I T Y  • 357 arrayed across the marble structure, which features a central barrel-vaulted passage- way flanked by two smaller openings. A tall attic story includes an inscription celebrating Constantine's strength and divine inspiration. Erected in the center of Rome next to the Colosseum, the arch symbolized the emperor's power and his imperial lineage. To decorate his arch, Constantine borrowed relief sculptures made for his predecessors Trajan, Hadrian, and Marcus Aurelius. These images employ the nat- uralistic style of Classical art. Reliefs commissioned by Constantine, on the other hand, reveal a very different approach. The panel picturing Constantine and his court (15.2) features small, stereotyped figures, drapery described with thick lines, and limited spatial depth. The style of art in the Roman Empire had changed. The beauty of the human body was no longer important to artists. Now art emphasized symbolism and narrative clarity, with signs borrowed from pagan art but repurposed with Christian meaning. The idealized bodies and individualized faces of the Clas- sical era had been replaced with stylized figures and generic facial features. Art reflected the Christian shift of attention from the well-being of the body to the cultivation of the soul. Most early worship took place in private homes, although only one such early house-church has been discovered. Some of the earliest Christian art has been preserved in underground burial chambers that were later forgotten. The sarcopha- gus containing the remains of the Roman patrician Junius Bassus (15.3) employs the same simplified style as Constantine's reliefs, as well as a fascinating assortment of Roman imagery borrowed for Christian purposes. The sarcophagus represents stories from Jesus's life and scenes from the Bible within a high-relief, architectural setting. In the upper, central section, Jesus appears between two figures. The artist based his divine likeness on Roman images of the youthful, beardless sun god Apollo. The enthroned Jesus shows his dominion over heaven and earth by resting his feet on another borrowed sign: a Roman personification of the heavens. These and other Roman symbols became a convenient and familiar vocabulary from which Christian artists and patrons drew the images of the new faith. 15.3 Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus. 359 c.e. Marble, height 48". Lanmas/Alamy Stock Photo

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