In the first two centuries of Christianity there weren’t any form of art recorded. Christians meet in small groups in a private phone and conducted simple services. In these services they would eat wine and bread that reminded them of Christ sacrifice on the cross. (Lamm 175) Christian symbols were a major form of art in the earlier years of Christian art. The Egyptian, Greek, and Romans artist had different symbols that represented different things. The Greeks created gods of their own image. For example, Zeus with the thunderbolt.
This symbolized that this was the god of power. (176) Some artist am e up with a variety of solutions using biblical stories, parables, and symbols to design Christian art. (177) In the age of Constantine, Constantine proclaimed freedom of religion in the Edict and Milan in 313. For centuries basilicas were constructed by the Romans. The basilicas served as meeting halls, mercantile centers, and halls of justice. There were two basilicas that were built in the early centuries. They were Old St. Peters and St. Paul’s.
The outside walls of St. Paul were destroyed by fire in 1823 and rebuilt in 1854. (180) In 404 Ravenna became the capital of the Western Empire under Honorius. Ravenna fell nder Odoacer in 476, but emerged as the capital of Theodoric Ostrogothic kingdom between the years of 489-526. Ravenna concluded its royal careen as the western capital of Justinian’s Byzantine Empire during 527-565. (181) Justinian marked the beginning of the Byzantine style from 527-565. It was notable for artistic production and for Justinian legal code.
Operating from his capitals of Constantinople in the East and Ravenna in the West, Justinian was the emperor of the Roman and Oriental potentate, in witch later became Byzantine Empire. (183) In 330 Constantine was known as “New Rome. ” The city was very popular. It was the sumptuous of Byzantine civilization for over 1,000 years. The faith of Orthodox was totally dominate in that city. In 532 the Blues and Greens rival chariot-racing joined forces and revolted against the autocratic rule of Justinian and Theodora.
The imperial troops put down the revolution by slaying about 30,000 people and most of the public buildings were destroyed, including Basilica of Hagia Sophia (The Church of Holy Wisdom). (185) Because the first Hagia Sophia was destroyed, Justinian hired a mathematician to design another one. The new Hagia Sophia was beautiful. It was nothing like anything the Roman or he Byzantine had ever seen. The empire was flooded with lights and windows everywhere. Twenty-one years after the building was built the dome of it collapsed.
Byzantium never produced another structure equal to the one in Hagia Sophia. Now today Hagia Sophia is a museum. (186) Terminating the first Byzantine golden age, Iconoclastic controversy lasted mostly on that off from 726 to 843. Leo III ordered the destruction of all images of Christ, saints, and prophets. A religious issue based on the commandment forbidding graven images, caused a controversy between church and state. In 843 Empress Theodora allowed those images again. The controversy renewed the interest in secular art and late classical motifs.
This set the stage for the second Byzantine age of ca. 900-1100. (186) St. Mark’s of Venice was the most decorated and largest church in the second golden age. One of the master pieces in St. Mark’s was a plaque of the archangel St. Michael. This colorful piece of art was so typical of Byzantium that it can be used to define Byzantine style. (186-187) The Byzantine style of painting, architecture, and decorated arts moved throughout Balkan, into Russia, and as far West at to Sicily. Byzantine influenced the Western art of the Middle Ages. (187)