Full Text

Iconography, Styles of


Subject Religion
Classics » Classical Art and Archaeology

Key-Topics arts and architecture, spirituality, symbolism, worship

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405185394.2011.x


Christian art, while initially linked to the artistic style of Antiquity, baptized the existing forms with a new religious content. The methods worked out to accomplish this led to the evolution of different styles of iconography. These styles evolved over three major productive periods of Byzantine history. These three periods may be defined as the Early Byzantine (4th-8th centuries), the Middle Byzantine (867–1204), and the Late Byzantine (1204–1453). These periods of Byzantine art also laid the foundation for all the various schools of Orthodox iconography that continued to develop after the fall of the Byzantine Empire. Plate 32  Nun painting an icon. RIA Novosti/Topfoto. The acceptance of Christianity as the official faith of the Byzantine Empire freed Christian art from its previous attachment to symbolic representations common in the catacombs and sarcophagi of Late Antiquity. The grand building programs of Constantine (4th century) and later of Justinian (6th century) fostered the development of an explicitly Christian iconographical style. Art of this early period represented two main tendencies: a Hellenistic and an oriental style. The former, based on Hellenistic naturalism, was dominant in the centers of Greek culture such as Constantinople. In this style classical forms were imbued with a Christian spirituality as can be seen in the renowned Pantocrator icon (6th century) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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