Byzantine Art: The Transfiguration of Christ Mosaic in Saint Catherine's Monastery

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Early Christian art was highly influenced by religious, political, and cultural changes. In contrast to the classical, idealistic portrayal of man, Early Christian art took a much more stylized approach to the depiction of man, with a neglected attention to human anatomy. The subject matter of much of the art turned from secular to religious; Christianity to be more specific. Constantine was the last emperor of the Roman Empire to hold undivided power. Under his rule, Constantine created the Edict of Milan, granting religious tolerance to all religions. This was of particular importance to Christians, who had been previously persecuted due to their spiritual beliefs. Because of the Edict of Milan, many Christian buildings were erected in…show more content…
Byzantine mosaics contain many characteristics that distinguish them from the rest. The typical gold background of a Byzantine mosaic creates a sense of weightlessness within the figures, as if they are floating. Byzantine artists depicted sacred figures with halos, separating them from the other figures. With nude images having been forbidden, one can hardly make out the anatomy of the fully clothed figures. Though it is evident that symmetry was greatly appreciated, it is also evident that the mosaics lack perspective. The figures depicted in the mosaics are flat and frontal facing with linear details. They are often slim with almond shaped faces and large eyes. The images depict little to no movement, creating a sense of stillness. These highly stylized Byzantine mosaics show disregard for Greco-Roman ideals.

On an expedition set out by the University of Michigan in search of sites to excavate in the Near East, the staff spent five days at Saint Catherine 's Monastery (Forsyth, 1997). They discovered that the mosaics within the monastery had undergone little restoration since the time of Justinian (Forsyth, 1997). As a result, most of the works were in bad condition and on the verge of collapsing (Forsyth, 1997). Mosaic restorers came in to save the mosaics, which could have been lost forever (Forsyth, 1997). After they secured the mosaics, the restorers cleaned them (Forsyth, 1997). The mosaics now appear in their original state (Forsyth, 1997). One of the most

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