Classical Roman Art Vs. Early Christian Art

1027 words - 4 pages

Classical Roman Art Vs Early Christian
There are many similarities and differences between Classical Roman and Early Christian Art. What particularly stands out to me is how much these two cultures have in common when it comes to their art and architecture. Romans were geniuses when it came to engineering and we can see that in the monuments they left behind. Many early Christian architectural styles and ideas were adopted straight from the Romans. Their communities became organized geographically much like those of the Roman provincial governments. Christian cultural styles derived straight from Roman visual traditions. Early Christian art features the adoption of Roman art forms for Christian purposes. Their art also featured recycling of images and sculpture to be used as early representations of Christ.
Roman art was also deeply influenced by the art of the Hellenistic world, which had spread to southern Italy and Sicily through the Greek colonies there. The Etruscans and Babylonians can also be seen as inspirations. “With the founding of the Republic, the term Roman art was virtually synonymous with the art of the city of Rome, which still bore the stamp of its Etruscan art” (Honour and Fleming,1999). During the last two centuries, notably that of Greece, Roman art shook off its dependence on Etruscan art. In the last two centuries before Christ, a distinctive Roman manner of building, sculpting, and painting emerged. Indeed, because of the extraordinary geographical extent of the Roman Empire and the number of diverse populations encompassed within its boundaries, “the art and architecture of the Romans was always eclectic and is characterized by varying styles attributable to differing regional tastes and the diverse preferences of a wide range of patrons” (Kleiner Fred S. pg 209).
For the purposes of this paper, I will focus on two examples of Early Roman and Christian art. The first example is the statue titled “Augustus as Pontifex Maximus (white marble-2.3 meters, 1st Century AD). His head is veiled (the practice of the time) for Roman priests. His right hand may have held some type of parchment. Here are two images of the sculpture, at the time that he probably held the office of Pontificus Maximus…

From an historical perspective, this piece is an excellent example of early classical Rome. You can sense the respect and admiration that the average Roman citizen had for Augustus, in the fine details of the sculpture.
In contrast to the noble figure of Augustus, the piece titled “The Good Shepard” (300-350 AD. Marble. Height: 39 inches) which resides as a wall painting in the Catacomb of Calixtus, is an early symbolic representation of Christ as a Shepard (Mueso, Rome Web 2014). Symbolic images like these were common for the period of Early Christian art. It compares nicley to the Greco-Roman sculpture ( 3rd Century b.c.e) piece of the same name. A similar depiction can also be found at Dura...

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